Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Odysseus and twelve of his crew, on their way home from the Trojan War, landed on the island of the Cyclopes (one-eyed giants) in search of provisions. They came across the cave of Polyphemus, and went inside hoping to steal food while Polyphemus was away tending his flock. Being inquisitive, Odysseus wanted to see what a Cyclops looked like, so they hid in the cave until Polyphemus returned.
That evening, Polyphemus herded his flock of sheep and goats into his cave and, for safekeeping, rolled a huge boulder across the entrance, not knowing the Greeks were inside. On seeing the one-eyed giant, Odysseus and his men gasped in disbelief, giving away their hiding place. Polyphemus rushed forward, killed two of the men, devoured them, then fell fast asleep. Odysseus relished the thought of killing Polyphemus, but knowing full well he and his men could never remove the boulder from the cave entrance, he devised an escape plan. On waking the next morning, Polyphemus caught two more of Odysseus' men, and ate them both for breakfast. He then rolled back the boulder, allowing just enough room for his flock to get out, then rolled the huge rock back into place, leaving the Greeks inside ready for his next meal. Meanwhile Odysseus and his men sharpened a stout pole and hid it ready for that evening.

As dusk grew close Polyphemus returned, again rolling back the boulder and letting in his flock. He caught two more Greeks, killed them and ate them. He then asked Odysseus, "What is your name?" Odysseus replied "Outis" (in Greek this means "nobody"). Odysseus offered Polyphemus a full goatskin of wine and when he had finished the last drop Polyphemus fell asleep. This was the time to take action: Odysseus and four of his men brought out the pole and with one great thrust plunged the point into Polyphemus' eye, pushing it in deep, to ensure it made him totally blind. The agonizing pain made Polyphemus scream so loud that the neighbouring Cyclopes rushed in to see what was wrong. "Who is hurting you?" they asked. Polyphemus screamed "Nobody is hurting me!" Assuming he'd been punished by the gods, the other Cyclopes left again.
At daybreak, Polyphemus rolled the great boulder from the mouth of the cave to let out his flock, but being totally blind, and knowing the Greeks would try to escape, he felt each animal as he let it pass. Odysseus and his men clung on to the underside of the sheep and, one at a time, escaped from the cave. They quickly ran to their ship and once aboard, Odysseus taunted Polyphemus by telling him his true identity, and Polyphemus, realising he had been tricked, hurled rocks at the ship, trying to smash it to pieces. When Odysseus had made his escape, Polyphemus prayed to his father Poseidon asking him to send a curse, and throughout the rest of Odysseus' journey home, Poseidon was his enemy.


Blogger kinglear said...

Moral: Make sure it's not you who gets eaten....

12:15 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home