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  • Writer's pictureTammy Lowe

Story Time...




In the 8th century B.C., an old, blind Greek man named Homer wrote a poem. It was --both literally and figuratively-- an epic one.


Meant to be performed orally, it is still well-known today, almost three thousand years later.


So, if you'd like, grab your cup of coffee or tea and settle in for story time.


There was a guy named Odysseus, King of Ithaca, who fought in the Battle of Troy. Odysseus is freaking legendary--not because of his muscles, but because of how cunning he is. He's the one who came up with the whole "Trojan Horse" idea.


Anyhow, after the Trojan War, which he didn't even want to fight in, Odysseus hops in his boat to sail back home. He's got a wife, Penelope, and a son waiting for him. It should take about two weeks across the Mediterranean Sea.


However...


Odysseus and his crew come ashore on an island, looking for food. They hike inland, finding a huge cave filled with enormous amounts of milk and cheese.


The men stuff their faces, eating as much as they can. "That was good food. Now...let's get out of here."

"No," Odysseus tells them. "I have a better idea. Let's wait and see who lives here. Maybe he'll be really hospitable and give us gifts."

"Say what?" They all look at him like he's mad.

"Yeah. You know...maybe whoever lives here is the hostess with the mostess and will shower us with hospitality."


So, they all hang out in the cave, eating and drinking, waiting around all day for whoever lives here to return and give them presents.


The host eventually returns with his flock of sheep.


Turns out, he's not only a giant, he's a cyclops named Polyphemus, who happens to be Poseidon's son. (The god of the sea)


He comes inside with his sheep and pushes a huge boulder over the entrance-- too large for humans to move.


They're now trapped.


"WHO ARE YOU?" Polyphemus demands when he sees them.

"Hey, how you doing? We're on our way home from Troy. Since we're your guests...do you have any gifts for us?" Odysseus asks.

"WHERE ARE YOUR SHIPS?"

"Oh...they were destroyed, smashed against the rocks," he says, lying.


Polyphemus then grabs two of the men, one in each hand, bashes them against the rocks...and eats them for dinner..


He then goes to sleep.


"Crap..."


This didn't go according to plan, so Odysseus needs to come up with a new one.


"We have to kill him," the men whisper.


"No. We'll be trapped in this cave if we do that."


Polyphemus gets up the next morning and takes his sheep outside with him, making sure to roll the enormous boulder over the entrance on his way out.


While he's gone, Odysseus sharpens a huge piece of wood into a spike, putting it into the fire to harden it. When it's ready, he hides it.


At the end of the day, Polyphemus returns to his lair once again, eats several more men, and is about to settle in for the night, when Odysseus offers him some wine.


This wine he happens to have is so powerful, you are meant to mix it with twenty parts water.


Polyphemus is happy to drink the wine, lapping up several goblets of it.


"WHAT IS YOUR NAME?" the cyclops asks Odysseus.

"My friends all call me Nobody."

"BECAUSE YOU GAVE ME WINE, NOBODY-- I HAVE GIFT FOR YOU. I WILL KILL YOU LAST."


Then, when Polyphemus passes out drunk, Odysseus grabs the spear, stabbing the sharp tip into the cyclops' eye.


"Hoisting high that olive stake with its stabbing point,
straight into the monster's eye they rammed it hard--
I drove my weight on it from above and bored it home...
round and round in the giant's eye
till blood came boiling up around that smoking shaft
and the hot blast singed his brow and eyelids round the core
and the broiling eyeball burst..."

By now, Polyphemus is screaming so loudly that all the other cyclopes come running to his rescue.


"WHO IS BOTHERING YOU?" they ask from the other side of the huge boulder.

"NOBODY! NOBODY IS KILLING ME!"


So....they all leave.


But, Odysseus and his men are still trapped in the cave with the now blind cyclops.


In the morning, when Polyphemus moves the boulder to let his sheep out, he feels each one with his hands to make sure none of Nobody's men are escaping. However, Odysseus and the others grab onto the underbelly of each one and ride out to freedom.


Once outside, they hightail it back to the shore, hop on their ship, and start to sail away.


Odysseus though....he just has to get the last word in.

He yells out, taunting Polyphemus.


The cyclops runs after them, throwing huge boulders into the sea.


The waves return the ship to the shore.


"Stop!" his men plead.

"No more, Ody!"

"Can we just get out of here, please?" they beg while trying to sail away again.


Odysseus couldn't resist though.


"If anyone ever asks who got the better of you, tell them it was Odysseus of Ithica," he shouts out.


In a rage, Polyphemus throws another huge boulder at the ship, but this time it drove them further out to sea.


They thought they were safe, but forgot one thing:


Polyphemus was Poseidon's son.


With the god of the sea now an enemy, what should have been a two week voyage...took ten years.


And there you have it. Your interesting fact of the day: Book Nine of the Odyssey.

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