In Homer’s The Iliad, Achilles’ shield is described in great depth. On one portion of the shield, there is fashioned a scene with a golden herd of straight-horn cattle. They are being led along a fruitful riverside by a group of four golden shepherds and nine hounds. Two lions approach the herd, and mutilate a mighty bull. The shepherds can do nothing but watch, as they dare not approach the predators. This scene is crucial in understanding the behavior of Odysseus’ men in the sequel to this epic, (The Iliad, p. 227).
In Homer’s The Odyssey, Odysseus narrates a portion of the epic concerning his journeys and trials during his long quest home for Ithaca. Throughout these adventures, his men play an important role in determining the fate of the entire crew of his ship. At some points, he portrays them as being heroic, while at others, they seem barbaric in nature and disloyal to their captain.
These qualities of his men, and certainly others, are best exemplified through the episodes involving the Cyclopes and the Cattle of the Sun God.
Before comparing and contrasting the actions of the men during these two mini-stories, a good understanding of the inhabitants of the two lands is necessary. The Island of the Sun God, Helios, is referred to as “the world’s delight,” as it provides habitation for this god’s limitless flocks of cattle. Conversely, the Island of the Cyclopes inhabits primitive one-eyed, half-man, and half-bestial beings, (p. 218). While Helios’ island is described as “noble,” almost as golden as the sun itself, the land of the Cyclopes is illustrated as a land filled with wild vegetation, and neglected by its undemocratic and uncivilized people. This depiction of these people being poor gardeners coincides with previous evidence from this epic, and others, that this type of lifestyle being lived by the Cyclopes was looked down upon by the author, and by the gods, in particularly. The other land, therefore, is obviously blessed and considered to be holy to the gods.
Soon after landing on the Cyclopes’ Island, Odysseus takes a team of his best men with him to explore the new wilderness. They then discover the cave of Polyphemos, your everyday, average, sheep-herding Cyclopes. Odysseus’ men suggest taking the vision-impaired beast’s cheese and flocks and making a run for it, but the “raider of cities” insists on awaiting his homecoming in an attempt to see the caveman and what he has to offer.
Exposing Boundaries in Wilson’s Fences
Exposing Boundaries in Fences
Fences is a play that deals with boundaries that hold people back and the trials and tribulations of those who try or wish to cross them. The characters are African-Americans in a time before the civil rights movement, living in an industrial city. The main character, Troy Manxson, is a talented baseball player who never had the chance to let his talent shine, with restrictions on race and his time in jail as the main obstacles that held him back. He is now hard working and loves his family. However, he tends to exaggerate and has his faults, most prevalent a wandering eye when it comes to women. His wife, Rose, is younger than him and loyal, but she may not have known about all of his faults when she married him. At the beginning of the play, Troy has a son from a previous marriage, Lyons, and a son with Rose, Cory. Also appearing are Bono, Troy’s drinking buddy, and Gabriel, his brother.
All of the characters are “fenced in,” by various barriers. Troy is working in a job where African Americans can get the lowest and most difficult tasks. On the home front, he has responsibilities to his family. Rose has chosen life with Troy as an alternative to “a succession of abusive men and their babies, a life of partying, or the Church.” Troy’s son, Lyons, is supposedly a musician but is going nowhere. Cory has potential but has his dream of playing college football extinguished by both protective and jealous Troy. The characters must deal with hardships of daily life, racial discrimination, straining relationships with each other, and the feeling that this is all their lives are: somewhat of a confined space with no escape; fenced in.
Troy’s brother Gabriel, although minor, is important to the play for many reasons. The most important is that while Gabriel perhaps has highest and most impassable fence around him, he is the only one who ignores it; he is not bounded, at least not in his own mind.
Gabriel is seven years younger than Troy. They were both in a large family with a frustrated and abusive father. Gabe is the only family Troy speaks with now. Injured in World War II, Gabriel had part of his head blown away. He now has a metal plate and is confused and somewhat delusional.