In the giants cave is where the relationship between subsistence, trade and communication, and technology are most described. The analysis of these three subsystems from Colin Renfrew’s systems theory reveals how the diverse ways of the giant and man corresponded with one another when they were put to interact with each other in book nine of The Odyssey.
Subsistence in the Cyclops cave
When Odysseys and his men arrive to the land of the Cyclops and find the cave, they find objects that would be fit to fall under the category of subsistence. They find milk, large drying racks filled with cheeses, utilities used for milking sheep and goats, and they have the wine that Odysseus decided to bring along.
Forms of trade and communication
Very few forms of trade and communication can be found in this section. When Polyphemus eats the last two of Odysseus’s men, Odysseus offers the Cyclops wine which later ends up with ...view middle of the document...
I turned it over the blazing ﬁre to char it good and hard, then hid it well, buried deep under the dung that littered the cavern’s ﬂoor in thick wet clumps.”
This was a form of communication that he had thought of with his men. He thought of the idea of using the club as a way to hurt Polyphemus, shared it, and strategized with them.
A different form of communication was the way he offered Polyphemus wine. Although it may not sound like an extraordinary act, it was the foundation to Odysseus’s escape plan. This falls under this category because Odysseus was able to give the Cyclops some wine in which resulted in him falling asleep. That allowed Odysseus and his men to plunge the hot and sharp point into the Cyclops eye, blinding him, and enabling them to get out of the cave.
Social and Political Hierarchy
Some forms of social and political hierarchy represented in this section of the book are the social statuses of Polyphemus and Odysseus. Odysseus is the leader of his crew and they all listen and take orders from him. Polyphemus however, governs himself and does not take orders from authority. When Odysseus tells Polyphemus how he should feed them and follow custom, Polyphemus conveys “stranger, you must be a fool, stranger or come from nowhere, telling me to fear the gods or avoid their wrath! We Cyclops never blink at Zeus and Zeus’s shield of storm and thunder, or any other blessed god-we’ve got more force by far”. Odysseus and his crew have respect for the gods as well as fear. Evidence of this appears when Odysseus and his men are in the cave where he describes “There we built a fire, set our hands on the cheeses, offered some to the gods and ate the bulk ourselves and settled down inside, awaiting his return…” Offering food to the gods shows their respect for them. They do not wish to anger them since they are on a journey and need all the help and blessings from the gods in order to have a safe trip. It also demonstrates how they know and acknowledge their roles in the chain of command. They do not try to be bigger, smarter and mightier than the gods.