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Polyphemus

Polyphemus, a character in Greek Mythology, is a Cyclops, a son of Poseidon and Thoosa.

Polyphemus in Homer's Odyssey

In the story of Homer's Odyssey a scouting party led by the Trojan War hero Odysseus, lands on the Island of the Cyclopes and ventures upon a large cave. They enter into the cave and proceed to feast on some food they find there. Unknown to them, this cave is the home of Polyphemus who soon comes upon the trespassers and traps them in his cave. He proceeds to eat several crew members, but Odysseus devised a cunning plan for escape.

To make Polyphemus unwary, Odysseus gave him a barrel of very strong, unwatered wine. When Polyphemus asked for Odysseus' name, he told him that it was "Noman". Once the giant fell asleep, Odysseus and his men took a hardened spear and destroyed Polyphemus' only eye. In the morning, Odysseus tied his men and himself to the undersides of Polyphemus' sheep. When the Cyclops let the sheep out to graze, the men were carried out. Since Polyphemus was blind, he didn't see the men, but felt the tops of his sheep to make sure the men weren't riding them.

Once the sheep (and men) were safely out, Polyphemus realized that the men weren't in his cave. He yelled out to his fellow Cyclopes that "Noman" hurt him, so they ignored him. As Odysseus and his men were sailing away, he told Polyphemus that "Noman didn't hurt you, Odysseus did!" Odysseus didn't realize that Polyphemus was the son of Poseidon, and that telling him his name would have severe repercussions.

The Sicilian Greek poet Theocritus wrote two poems circa 275 BC concerning Polyphemus' love for Galatea, a sea nymph. When Galatea instead loved Acis, a Sicilian mortal, a jealous Polyphemus killed him with a boulder. Galatea turned Acis' blood into a river of the same name in Sicily.


In Greek mythology, Polyphemus was one of the Argonauts. He helped Heracles search for Hyllas and both were left behind by the Argo.



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