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Humanities 2018, 7(4), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7040107

Odysseus and the Cyclops: Constructing Fear in Renaissance Marriage Chest Paintings

James Pearson Duffy Department of Art and Art History, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
Received: 8 August 2018 / Revised: 19 October 2018 / Accepted: 22 October 2018 / Published: 31 October 2018
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Abstract

Recent scholarship addressing access to Homer’s epics during the Italian Renaissance has illuminated the unique importance of visual narratives for the dissemination and interpretation of material associated with the Trojan War and its heroes. This article looks at early fifteenth-century images deriving from the Odyssey that were painted for marriage chests (cassoni) in the popular Florentine workshop of Apollonio di Giovanni. Focusing on Apollonio’s subnarrative of Odysseus’ clash with the Cyclops Polyphemus (the Cyclopeia), I argue that Apollonio showcased this archetypal tale of a failed guest–host relationship to explore contemporary anxieties associated with marriage, an institution that figured prominently in the political and economic ambitions of fifteenth-century patriarchal families. View Full-Text
Keywords: cassone; Apollonio di Giovanni; narrative painting; Renaissance; Homer; Odyssey; Odysseus; Polyphemus; Xenia; hospitium; marriage; dowry cassone; Apollonio di Giovanni; narrative painting; Renaissance; Homer; Odyssey; Odysseus; Polyphemus; Xenia; hospitium; marriage; dowry
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Franklin, M. Odysseus and the Cyclops: Constructing Fear in Renaissance Marriage Chest Paintings. Humanities 2018, 7, 107.

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