The Good, The Bad, and…The Funny?: The Fusion of Comedy and Horror in the Character of Polyphemus
Place of Publication
Table of Contents
Polyphemus is a dynamic character appearing in multiple genres across Greco-Roman literature such as Homer’s Odyssey, Theocritus’ Idylls, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Within these works, there is a tension between his dual identity as epic monster and pastoral shepherd, both of which manifest through the presence of the grotesque and its juxtaposition with the pastoral in various works. Using Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of the grotesque from Rabelais and His World as well as Jeffery Jerome Cohen’s “Monster Culture (Seven Theses),” it can be understood that the grotesque provides comedy and horror in monstrosity. First establishing these interactions between comedy, horror, the grotesque, and the pastoral, I aim to examine the comedy and horror present in each work, arguing the duality of Polyphemus comes from the juxtaposition between the grotesque and pastoral imagery present in each episode. Through his pastoral setting and grotesque nature, Polyphemus becomes an agent of the Hesiodic Golden Age. Polyphemus then embodies the Bakhtinian suggestion that the Hesiodic Golden Age is not only alive but an alternate way of life amidst the contemporary world of figures such as Odysseus and Galatea.