The Applications of Colin Renfrew’s Systems Theory in The Odyssey by Homer

The Applications of Colin Renfrew’s Systems Theory in The Odyssey by Homer

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In the giant’s cave is where the relationship between subsistence, trade and communication, and Social/Political Hierarchy 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.
Examples of subsistence
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. There is proof of this when Odysseus and his crew explore the cave where he describes “the large flat racks loaded with drying cheeses, the folds crowded with young lambs and kids” Odysseus also depicts Polyphemus’s “…vessels, pails and hammered buckets he used for milking” and how they were “brimming full with whey”
Forms of trade and communication
In the beginning of the book, Odysseus is telling King Alcinous and his people the story of his encounter with Polyphemus. Odysseus is sharing his knowledge of the world and his encounters with it. This is shown in the beginning of book nine where Odysseus starts of by saying “But now you’re set on a probing the bitter pains I’ve borne, so I’m to week and grieve, it seems, still more. Well then, what shall I go through first, what shall I save for last? What pains-the gods have given me my share. Now let me begin by telling you my name…” This is a form
of communicating with the Phaeacian people as well as educating them on what is out in the world outside their homes.
When P...

... middle of paper ...

...elp they sharpen and harden the end of the Cyclops’ club. Odysseus and his men could have sat around hopelessly to await their death, but because Odysseus is a leader and cunning warrior, he comes up with the idea of how to hurt Polyphemus in order to escape. His crew must have been just as terrified as Odysseus, but because Odysseus is their leader, they turned and listened to his idea and all communicated and worked together in order to escape.
In the end of all of this, all of these subsystems came together to describe all of the diverse ways man and giant correspond with one another in Book Nine of The Odyssey. The different ways of life, morals, and sets of principles between these two may have not come to a mutual understanding, but the understanding of how the relationship between man and hitself is not the same as the one he has with the rest of the world.

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