Polyphemus and Odysseus: The Story

09/07/2020
     "I'm nobody". Have you heard this phrase? Said by Odysseus (Ulysses) to King Cyclops Polyphemus, son of Posidon (Poseidon) and nymph Teosa and lived in a cave near Sicily, taking care of sheep.

Who Was Odysseus?

     Odysseus (Ulysses) was, in Greek Mythology and Roman mythology, a character in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. He is the main character of this last work, and a separate figure in the narrative of the Trojan War. He is one of the most cunning warriors of all Greek epic, even after the war, when he returned to his kingdom, Ithaca, one of the numerous Greek islands.

Polyphemus and Odysseus:

     His life is interrupted when Odysseus (Ulysses, in Roman Mythology) and his men disembark in the land of the Cyclops looking for food during the journey home from Troy. Odysseus and his companions entered Polifermo's den looking for food and drinks, not knowing that it was the place where the Cyclops slept and kept their sheep. When Polyphemus returns, he closes the cave with a huge rock, imprisoning the sailors. Breathless, in front of the figure of the one-eyed giant in the middle of the forehead, they reveal their presence. The Cyclops grab two men and devour them. After blocking the cave's entrance with a huge stone, Polyphemus continues to devour two men at a time. 

     Odysseus then arranges a plan for everyone to escape and offers wine to Polifemo, who asks who offers him the drink, to which Odysseus replies: "it was Nobody". When Polyphemus falls asleep due to drinking, Odysseus and his men sharpen a stick and stick it in the cyclops eye, blinding it. The next day, Polyphemus opens the cave to let the sheep out, checking with tact whether they are really sheep or prisoners. However, they hide, holding themselves under the sheep, managing to escape. Polyphemus, upon realizing the escape, shouts that "No one had blinded him" to his fellow Cyclops, but they ignore him. 

     On his ship, Odysseus makes fun of Polyphemus and reveals his name (he shouts that it was "Nobody" who hurt him, but Odysseus). Polyphemus, furious, throws large rocks at random into the sea, which almost reach the vessel. The Cyclops asks his father Poseidon to take revenge on Odysseus, cursing the Greeks. Poseidon answers, tormenting Odysseus for the rest of the trip.

Eneida-Based Text:

     According to a quick passage from Virgil's Eneida, the Trojans passed through the Cyclops' island apparently a few weeks after Odysseus. And there they met Achaemenids, an Odysseus soldier who was left behind while the others fled. He tells the Trojans what happened between his king and Polyphemus, but interrupts the narrative when he sees that Polyphemus himself, now blind, has been walking towards the beach to wash his injured eye. 

     In silence, the Trojans try to escape as quickly as possible from there with their boats. But Polyphemus, though blind, sees something moving in the water beside him. The monster tries to grab the boats, but fails and the Trojans flee safely. And that makes the Cyclops scream with hatred as loudly as he can, attracting the other Cyclops on the island to the beach, who look at the Trojans walking away without being able to do anything.

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