Savage or Civilized: Is There a Difference? Essay

Savage or Civilized: Is There a Difference? Essay

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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 punishme...


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...looks at these stories without identifying oneself with anyone, it becomes obvious that there is little difference between the savage and the civilized. If murder is a savage crime, then Odysseus was just as much a savage as Polyphemus, but what makes Odysseus worse, is that his actions affected more people than the cannibalism of Polyphemus, yet he is still regarded as a hero for his behavior. In turn, Candide is no more civilized than the Lobeiros tribe, as he had committed murder before but he justifies his action, just as the actions of murder, rape and maiming are justified if they are committed by the inside group, the so-called civilized world. Therefore the real savageness of people, exemplified by Odysseus and Candide, manifests in ignorance and rigidity, yet there is a certain kind of comedy in that really nothing has changed since the beginning of time.

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