The Cyclops were a race of one-eyed giants. The name "Cyclops"
comes from words meaning "wheel-eyed", because
each of them was big enough that his eye was as big as a
wagon wheel. Some Cyclops were responsible for making the
thunderbolts used by Zeus as his favorite weapon, but the
one you see here wasn't one of those.
This is Polyphemus, most famous of the Cyclops, a race
of wild monsters.. A son of Poseidon, god of the sea, Polyphemus
had a herd of giant sheep he tended in a remote part of
Sicily, where he lived. The great Odysseus landed his ship
there, and sought shelter in a cave (which they did no know
was Polyphemus's home until they became trapped in there
with him when he rolled a huge boulder in front of the door).
Polyphemus caught two of Odysseus's men and ate them raw
before going to sleep, and in the morning, ate two more
for breakfast, before leaving with his sheep and rolling
the boulder in front of the cave, trapping the men inside
again. But Odysseus had his men take a huge pole that was
inside the cave, sharpen one end of it, and heat it in a
fire until it was hard and dry. When Polyphemus came back
to the cave, the men drove the pole into the Cyclops's eye,
blinding him. Polyphemus sealed off the cave again, and
spent the night trying to catch the men, but he could not.
He roared out, "Who has done this to me?" and
Odysseus replied, "I am Noman, and Noman has done this
In the morning, Polyphemus rolled the boulder away from
the door to let out the sheep. He felt the back of each
sheep to see if the men were riding the sheep out - but
Odysseus had each of his men hang underneath the sheep as
they left the cave, and the blind Cyclops missed them. The
Cyclops called to his brothers to come and help him, and
when they asked who had harmed him, Polyphemus said "No
man! No man has done this to me!" The others said,
"If no man has done this to you, then it must be a
god who has done it. We will not interfere in the affairs
of the gods!" and they left him alone.
Odysseus got his men back to the ship, and made good his
escape. When he was far enough away that he knew Polyphemus
could not reach his ship, he shouted taunts at Polyphemus,
which enraged the Cyclops so much that he tore off the top
of a mountain and threw it at the ship. It missed, but the
waves pushed the ship almost all the way back to shore.
Odysseus got away again, and shouted back to Polyphemus,
"I am not Noman, but Odysseus, ruler of Ithaca. Tell
everyone that I, Odysseus, blinded the mighty Polyphemus!"
Polyphemus cried out for vengeance to his father, Poseidon,
who tried for the next ten years to destroy Odysseus, before
Odysseus finally made it home to his island kingdom.
Cyclops: SAI- clops
Polyphemus: Polly- FEE- mus
Odysseus: o- DISS- ee- us (or o- DEESE- ee- us)
Noman: Pronounce as you would "no man"
Ithaca: ITH- uh- kuh, like the city in New York State
Poseidon: po- SIGH- don