Cyclopes vs Big Dan Teague

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Lucas Chaney
2/19/2013
When analyzing the movie “O Brother Where Art Thou”, it becomes obvious that there are many similarities between the characters in the movie and those in Homer’s Odyssey. One scene where this is exceptionally apparent is when Everett and company sit down to eat with Big Dan Teague outside of a restaurant. Describing himself as “a man with a large appetite”, Big Dan consumes copious amounts of food in the same manner that Polyphemus the Cyclopes devours Odysseus’s men. Both characters are single-eyed, gluttonous beasts that seem to have little concern for anyone but themselves. An example of this can be seen in some of Polyphemus’s first words to Odysseus. “You are dumb, stranger, or from far away, if you ask me to fear the gods. Cyclopes don’t care about Zeus or his aegis or the blessed gods, since we are much stronger” (9.265). While Polyphemus has power over humans due to his superior size and strength, Big Dan uses his persuasive abilities and and “gift of gab” to take advantage of Everett and his companions. Although different methods are used, both characters end up receiving a meal from their victims. Another important similarity is the theme of expected xenia that both characters share. Just as Polyphemus demands wine from Odysseus, Big Dan asks Everett to pick up the bill, and proceeds to eat their leftover food afterwards.

While there are countless possible comparisons between these two characters, the most important trait that they both share is the shepherd’s role that they play. Unlike a traditional shepherd who values his sheep as if they were companions, these characters seek only to gain personal benefits from their sheep. Polyphemus is a shepherd in a more literal sense, as he guides and cares for his livestock with the intention of using them for food in the future. Big Dan however, provides his “sheep” with “answers from the book that’s got em”, the Holy Bible. This modern Cyclopes steals money from his...
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