K ing Nestor
r
The Wine Red Sea:  Journeys of Odysseus
© Copyright 2014 - 2018 by Peter J Ponzio

The Cyclopes, Book IX

 True to his word, Polyphemus demonstrated that he was not afraid of Zeus by grabbing two of Odysseus' men and eating them live.  At first, Odysseus thought of killing the giant outright, but recalled that if he dispatched the Cyclops, he would not be able to roll away the immense boulder that the giant used to block the entrance to his cave. As dawn broke the next day, Polyphemus repeated his cruelty of the prior day, snatching two men and eating them.  Despite his rage, Odysseus crafted a plan. Using the Cyclop's club, Odysseus fashioned a point, then thrust it in the fire to harden the tip.  When the giant appeared that evening, he snatched two more men for his meal, and after he was finished, Odysseus offered him a mixing bowl of wine, which he finished and followed this up with two more bowls of wine. The Greeks used wine at their meals, mixing it one part wine to three parts water.  The wine given to the Cyclops was undiluted, and had its desired effect:  the giant fell fast asleep.  But before he drifted off, Odysseus told him his name:  'So you ask me the name I'm known by, Cyclops?/I will tell you.  But you must give me a guest-gift/as you've promised.  Nobody-that's my name.-/so my mother and father call me, all my friends” (IX, 408-410). Once the Cyclops was fast asleep, Odysseus and four of his men plunged the heated club into Polyphemus' one eye, blinding him.  The giant screamed in terror, and woke a number of his neighbors who asked what happened, or who was terrorizing him.  Polyphemus, repeating the name Odysseus gave him, exclaimed:  “'Nobody, friends'. . .'Nobody's killing me now by fraud and not by force!’”  Since “nobody” was bothering Polyphemus, the other Cyclopes ignored him and went back to sleep. Odysseus and his men, although pleased by their successful strategy, were unable to leave the cave.  Odysseus, ever plotting his escape, developed a plan to leave the cave unharmed.  Polyphemus kept a flock of rams and sheep in his cave, and took them out to pasture each morning.  Odysseus tied his men underneath the belly of a ram, and then tied himself under the belly of the lead ram.
Odysseus serves wine to Polyphemus
Odysseus, secure under the ram