This paper argues that Homer’s Odyssey was the world’s introduction to ideas about human evolution popularized by Darwin and that these ideas are recognizable in the individuals and communities that the hero and his son encounter on their journeys. Homer represents the stages of human evolution through the characteristics of various social groups described in the Odyssey , such as the Cyclopses, Lastrygonians, Ithacans, Kikones, and Phaeacians, as well as through the characteristics of noteworthy individuals such as Helen and Penelope. This comparison of different communities and individuals seems to mirror Darwin’s hierarchy of evolution in The Descent of Man. Ultimately, Homer seems to demonstrate that the participation of women and pursuit of peace serve as markers of a society's development, anticipating the ideas of Darwin by over two millennia.
Cuddy, Lois A.
"Teaching Homer’s Odyssey Through Charles Darwin’s The Descent of Man: An Ancient Version of Evolution,"
New England Classical Journal: Vol. 46
Available at: https://crossworks.holycross.edu/necj/vol46/iss1/6