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 to you!"

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


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