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Savage Or Civilized: Is There A Difference?

1975 words - 8 pages

Many different groups make up the human population of the world. Each differentiates itself from the others based on customs, traditions, language and culture, thinking that what they have is the best. When two groups or people from different civilizations come into contact with each other, in theory both groups believe that their way of life is the sophisticated one and the other’s is the savage one, but more often than not, there is little difference between the two groups. Murder is a savage crime, yet both sides are able to explain it through their traditions, making it acceptable for themselves and appalling if it’s the other side doing it, yet in reality, murder is a cruel act and no matter who commits it, he commits an uncivilized act. In the Greek epic, Odyssey, Polyphemus, the Cyclops is considered a savage beast, who does not follow the customs of the Greeks and hence condemned as a brute. He eats several men, who had accompanied Odysseus, and this act further adds to his “savageness” in the eyes of the Greeks. However, if he is a savage just because he didn’t follow the rules of Greek society and committed murder than wouldn’t Odysseus be a savage beast for murdering all the suitors and the maids instead of putting them under “civilized” justice, after all his patron goddess is the goddess of justice and wisdom? Wouldn’t his men be considered savages for eating the cattle of the Sun God after being told that they were sacred? If savages are the ones, who don’t follow the customs and commit murder, then the whole epic is about savages and not heroes. In Voltaire’s Candide, savageness hides under the pretense of civilized law, where one can burn down villages according to the law, rape and sell women without any punishment or commit cannibalism for a lost cause, all done in a sophisticated society. However, if a woman has monkey lovers or if a different group commits cannibalism than that can only be accepted as “savage” behavior. This is the comedy of human life that reveals the underlying foolishness of all people. A person is always better than the other, two people can commit the same act, yet one will be civilized, while the other is deemed savage, only depending on one’s point of view.
Odysseus, the Greek hero of the Trojan War, who was known for his cleverness and cunning, inspired an epic story, which was passed through hundreds of years, even into the 21st century. Over the years, the Odyssey taught many lessons about bravery and ingenuity, which were the trademarks of Odysseus, and about the valor of the Ancient Greek civilization that has disappeared a long time ago. In each book of the epic, Odysseus is admired by mortals and immortals alike, however, when one looks at the epic in terms of the definitions of civilized and savage without the overbearing admiration of the poet, it becomes obvious that Odysseus is just as savage as the greatest savage of the story, Polyphemus, the Cyclops son of Poseidon.
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