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A Cyclops’ blind fury

By Debra Dobbins

In Greek mythology a Cyclops was a giant with only one eye – right in the middle of his forehead.

In the Odyssey, Homer writes of the adventures of Odysseus as he tries to return home to Ithaca, Greece, after fighting 10 years at Troy (now considered part of Turkey). At one point his men and he find themselves not only in the land of the Cyclopes, but also imprisoned in the cave of a Cyclops named Polyphemus.

Polyphemus asks Odysseus what his name is; Odysseus replies, “Nobody.”

Polyphemus finds the men quite tasty and gobbles up a few. Odysseus then devises a plan to escape. He plies Polyphemus with wine, and soon the giant falls asleep.

Odysseus tells his remaining men to cling to the bellies of huge sheep kept by Polyphemus. He then creeps up on Polyphemus and blinds his only eye. The giant wakes up, bellows with anger and pain and in his confusion removes the huge rock to the entrance of the cave.

The men escape along with the sheep. Shortly after, Odysseus follows, and they all make their way back to their ship. Polyphemus lumbers out of the cave, shouting that he has been blinded. “Who blinded you?” his fellow Cyclopes ask. To which he can only reply, “Nobody.”

Polyphemus by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein, 1802
Photo of painting courtesy of Wikipedia



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