How Odysseus Tricked Polyphemus the Cyclops to Escape
As if the Trojan War wasn’t enough for Odysseus to deal with. Odysseus was arguably the hero of the Trojan War, since he was the mastermind behind the sneaky plan to build an enormous, hollow wooden horse to present to the Trojans as a gift while the Greek soldiers hid inside to attack while the Trojans slept. It’s the reason the Greeks finally won the ten-year war and Helen was returned to her husband, King Menelaus. Odysseus had lots of reason to celebrate. Unfortunately his celebration was short lived as he was posed with another challenge quite quickly.
Upon his return home to Ithaca via boat, along with the other Greek soldiers, Odysseus encountered terrible stormy seas that were caused by angry gods. The boat was no match for the storm and washed up on the shore of an island. Odysseus and his men went looking for food and entered a cave upon hearing goats and sheep inside it. They were thrilled to find cheese and milk and began to eat it.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t just goats and sheep inside the cave. It turns out the cave, along with the goats and sheep inside, was tended to by the most feared Cyclops (a giant man with one eye in the middle of his forehead), Polyphemus. Upon discovering the men, Polyphemus was angry that the men were in his cave and eating his food. He rolled a rock over the entrance of the cave so that the men couldn’t escape, snatched up two of the men and ate them, and then lied down to sleep for the night.
While he was sleeping the remaining men tried to devise a plan to escape. They couldn’t kill Polyphemus since he was the only one big and strong enough to remove the rock that blocked the entrance. If they killed Polyphemus, the men would also die inside the cave. Odysseus once again came up with a sneaky plan. The men chiseled the end of a log with a sharp point and hid their weapon in the shadows. The next day Odysseus offered Polyphemus some wine, which he knew would make Polyphemus drunk and sleepy. Polyphemus drank the wine and asked Odysseus for his name. Odysseus, thinking quickly, said that his name was “Noman”. Polyphemus thanked “Noman” for the wine and proceeded to pass out.
Once he was asleep the men heated the sharp end of the log with the fire and then rammed the sharp end into Polyphemus’ only eye to blind him. Odysseus and the men then tied sets of three sheep together and strapped themselves to the belly of the middle sheep. When Polyphemus let out the sheep the next morning, he couldn’t see where the men were hiding and they exited the cave and ran to the boat and sailed away from the island to safety.
Polyphemus told the other Cyclops that “Noman” did this to him so they were left to assume that it was an act of Zeus and the other gods and that Polyphemus must have deserved his punishment.
Categorized in: Greek Mythology
This post was written by Greek Boston