Few tales are as well-known as the story of Odysseus and The Cyclops.
This classic Greek myth tells the story of a clever hero who uses his wits to outsmart a giant, one-eyed monster. Along the way, he also demonstrates the importance of friendship and loyalty.
Upon setting sail on his return journey from the Trojan War, things go well for Odysseus at first. There is a prophecy, however, that says the journey will take 10 years. After spotting land, he takes a group of 12 with him to search for food and fresh water sources. They’re amazed to find everything seeming much larger than they’re used too – even the sheep are enormous!
They see a cave in the distance and make their way over: hoping to find the shepherd who owns it. Once arriving, they discover that not only is the cave empty – except for some of the shepherd’s animals and cheeses – but it’s also huge! They slaughter one of the lambs and enjoy a celebratory roast meal inside.
The shepherd returns to his cave – he is a giant cyclops.
Polyphemus, the Cyclops, is Poseidon’s son and a giant with one eye in the center of his forehead. His meals generally include whatever he can find nearby – two of Odysseus’s sailors become his victims in this story.
Once Polyphemus falls asleep, the crew starts to think about killing him; however, Odysseus realizes that even if they kill Polyphemus, they will all die trapped inside the cave since it would be impossible for them move the large rock blocking the entrance by themselves.
Odysseus, recognized for his resourcefulness and slyness, begins to hatch a plan. They need to find someway to make the Cyclops open up the cave.
As morning arrives, the Cyclops savors two more of Odysseus’ crew members as breakfast before he heads out to the pasture; subsequently blocking the cave entrance once again behind him.
Odysseus and his remaining crew come up with a plan to blind the Cyclops.
Odysseus tells the cyclops that his name is “Nobody”.
They sharpen a large stick at one end and heat it in the fire until it’s glowing red. When Polyphemus returns that night, they offer him wine as a peace offering. He gets drunk quickly and falls asleep. Odysseus and his crew then shove the hot stick into Polyphemus’s eye.
The Cyclops wakes up in agony, screaming and tearing at his eye. His cries echo through the cave and wake up the other Cyclopes who live on the island. They ask him what’s wrong and he tells them that “Nobody” has hurt him. They tell him to go back to sleep and stop making such a fuss.
In the morning, Odysseus and his crew tie themselves underneath the bellies of the sheep so they can’t be seen.
When the Cyclops lets the sheep out, he feels their backs to make sure they’re all there – and doesn’t notice Odysseus and his crew.
Once they are free Odysseus announces his escape to the cyclops, and that it is he who has tricked him and taken his eye.
Polyphemus complains to his father, Poseidon, about what happened.
As a result, Poseidon vows to take revenge on Odysseus and make his journey home much more difficult.
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