HOW ODYSSEUS CAME TO THE LAND OF THE CYCLOPES, AND HIS ADVENTURES THERE
 On and on across the waves sailed the dark-prowed
ships of Odysseus, until again they came to land.
It was the Land of the Cyclopes, a savage
and lawless people, who never planted, nor
ploughed, nor sowed, and whose fields yet
gave them rich harvests of wheat and of
barley, and vines with heavy clusters of
grapes. In deep caves, high up on the hills,
these people dwelt, and each man ruled his
own wife and children, but himself knew no
Outside the harbour of the Land of the
Cyclopes lay a thickly wooded island. No
hunters went there, for the Cyclopes owned
neither ships nor boats, so that many goats
roamed unharmed through the woods and
cropped the fresh green grass.
 It was a green and pleasant land. Rich
meadows stretched down to the sea, the vines
grew strong and fruitful, and there was a fair
harbour where ships might be run right on
to the beach. At the head of the harbour
was a well of clear water flowing out of a
cave, and with poplars growing around it.
Thither Odysseus directed his ships. It was
dark night, with no moon to guide, and mist
lay deep on either side, yet they passed the
breakers and rolling surf without knowing it,
and anchored safely on the beach.
All night they slept, and when rosy dawn
came they explored the island and slew with
their bows and long spears many of the wild
goats of the woods.
All the livelong day Odysseus and his men
sat and feasted. As they ate and drank, they
looked across the water at the Land of the
Cyclopes, where the smoke of wood fires
curled up to the sky, and from whence they
could hear the sound of men's voices and the
bleating of sheep and goats. When darkness
fell, they lay down to sleep on the sea-beach,
and when morning dawned Odysseus called
 his men together and said to them: 'Stay
here, all the rest of you, my dear companions,
but I will go with my own ship and my ship's
company and see what kind of men are those
who dwell in this land across the harbour.'
So saying, he climbed into his ship, and
his men rowed him across to the Land of
the Cyclopes. When they were near the shore
they saw a great cave by the sea. It was
roofed in with green laurel boughs and seemed
to be meant for a fold to shelter sheep and
goats. Round about it a high outer wall was
firmly built with stones, and with tall and
leafy pines and oak trees.
In this cave, all alone with his flocks and
herds, dwelt a huge and hideous one-eyed
Polyphemus was his name, and his father
was Poseidon, god of the sea.
Taking twelve of his best men with him,
Odysseus left the others to guard the ship
and sallied forth to the giant's cave. With
him he carried a goatskin full of precious wine,
dark red, and sweet and strong, and a large
sack of corn.
 Soon they came to the cave, but
Polyphemus was not there. He had taken of
his flocks to graze in the green meadows,
leaving behind him in the cave folds full of
lambs and kids. The walls of the cave were
lined with cheeses, and there were great pans
full of whey, and giant bowls full of milk.
'Let us first of all take the cheeses,' said
the men of Odysseus to their king, 'and carry
them, to the ships. Then let us return and
drive all the kids and lambs from their folds
down. to the shore, and sail with them in our
swift ships homeward over the sea.'
But Odysseus would not listen to what they
said. He was too great-hearted to steal into
the cave like a thief and take away the giant's
goods without first seeing whether
Polyphemus might not treat him as a friend,
receiving from him the corn and wine he had
brought, and giving him gifts in return.
So they kindled a fire, and dined on some
of the cheeses, and sat waiting for the giant
Towards evening he came, driving his flocks
before him, and carrying on his back a huge
 load of firewood, which he cast down on the
floor with such a thunderous noise that
Odysseus and his men fled in fear and hid
themselves in the darkest corners of the cave.
When he had driven his sheep inside,
Polyphemus lifted from the ground a rock so huge
that two—and—twenty four—wheeled wagons
could not have borne it, and with it blocked
the doorway. Then, sitting down, he milked
the ewes and bleating goats, and placed the
lambs and kids each beside its own mother.
Half of the milk he curdled and placed in
wicker baskets to make into cheeses, and
the other half he left in great pails to drink
when he should have supper. When all this
was done, he kindled a fire, and when the
flames had lit up the dark-walled cave he
spied Odysseus and his men.
'Strangers, who are ye?' he asked, in his
great, rumbling voice. 'Whence sail ye over
the watery ways? Are ye merchants? or are
ye sea-robbers who rove over the sea, risking
your own lives and bringing evil to other
The sound of the giant's voice, and his
 hideous face filled the hearts of the men
with terror, but Odysseus made answer
'From Troy we come, seeking our home, but
driven hither by winds and waves. Men of
Agamemnon, the renowned and most mightily
victorious Greek general, are we, yet to thee
we come and humbly beg for friendship.'
At this the giant, who had nothing but
cruelty in his heart, mocked at Odysseus.
'Thou art a fool,' said he, 'and I shall not
spare either thee or thy company. But tell
me where thou didst leave thy good ship?
Was it near here, or at the far end of the
But Odysseus of the many counsels knew
that the giant asked the question only to bring
evil on the men who stayed by the ship, and so
he answered: 'My ship was broken in pieces
by the storm and cast up on the rocks on the
shore, but I, with these my men, escaped from
Not one word said Polyphemus in reply, but
sprang up, clutched hold of two of the men,
and dashed their brains out on the stone floor.
Then he cut them up, and made ready his
 supper, eating the two men, bones and all, as if
he had been a starving lion, and taking great
draughts of the milk from the giant pails. When
his meal was done, he stretched himself on
the ground beside his sheep and goats, and
In helpless horror Odysseus and his men had
watched the dreadful sight, but when the
monster slept they began to make plans for
their escape. At first Odysseus thought it
might be best to take his sharp sword and stab
Polyphemus in the breast. But then he knew
that even were he thus to slay the giant, he
and his men must die. For strength was
not left them to roll away the rock from the
cave's mouth, and so they must perish like rats
in a trap.
All night they thought what they should do,
but could think of nought that would avail,
and so they could only moan in their
bitterness of heart and wait for the dawn.
When dawn's rosy fingers touched the sky,
Polyphemus awoke. He kindled a fire, and
milked his flocks, and gave each ewe her
lamb. When this work was done he snatched
 yet other two men, dashed their brains out,
and made of them his morning meal. After
the meal, he lifted the stone from the door,
drove the flocks out, and set the stone back
again. Then, with a loud shout, he turned
his sheep and goats towards the hills and left
Odysseus and his remaining eight men
imprisoned in the cave, plotting and planning
how to get away, and how to avenge the
death of their comrades.
At last Odysseus thought of a plan. By the
sheepfold there lay a huge club of green olive
wood that Polyphemus had cut and was
keeping until it should be dry enough to use
as a staff. So huge was it that Odysseus and
his men likened it to the mast of a great
merchant vessel. From this club Odysseus
cut a large piece and gave it to his men to
fine down and make even. While they did
this, Odysseus himself sharpened it to a point
and hardened the point in the fire. When
it was ready, they hid it amongst the rubbish
on the floor of the cave. Then Odysseus made
his men draw lots who should help him
to lift this bar and drive it into the eye of the
 giant as he slept, and the lot fell upon the
four men that Odysseus would himself have
In the evening Polyphemus came down
from the hills with his flocks and drove them
all inside the cave. Then he lifted the great
doorstone and blocked the doorway, milked
the ewes and goats, and gave each lamb and
kid to its mother. This done, he seized other
two of the men, dashed out their brains, and
made ready his supper.
From the shadows of the cave Odysseus
now stepped forward, bearing in his hands
an ivy bowl, full of the dark red wine.
'Drink wine after thy feast of men's flesh,'
said Odysseus, 'and see what manner of drink
this was that our ship held.'
Polyphemus grasped the bowl, gulped down
the strong wine, and smacked his great lips
over its sweetness.
'Give me more,' he cried, 'and tell me thy
name straightway, that I may give thee a
gift. Mighty clusters of grapes do the vines
of our land bear for us, but this is a rill of
very nectar and ambrosia.'
 Again Odysseus gave him the bowl full of
wine, and yet again, until the strong wine
went to the giant's head and made him stupid.
Then said Odysseus: 'Thou didst ask
me my name, and didst say that thou wouldst
give me a gift. Noman is my name, and
Noman they call me, my father and mother
and all my fellows.
Then answered the giant out of his pitiless
heart: 'I will eat thy fellows first, Noman,
and thee the last of all. That shall be thy
Soon the wine made him so sleepy that he
sank backwards with his great face upturned
and fell fast asleep.
As soon as the giant slept, Odysseus thrust
into the fire the stake he had prepared, and
made it red hot, all the while speaking
cheeringly and comfortingly to his men. When it
was so hot that the wood, green though
it was, began to blaze, they drew it out and
thrust it into the giant's eye. Round and
round they whirled the fiery pike, as a man
bores a hole in a plank, until the blood gushed
out, and the eye frizzled and hissed, and the
 flames singed and burned the eyelids, and
the eye was burned out. With a great and
terrible cry the giant sprang to his feet,
and Odysseus and the others fled from before
him. From his eye he dragged the blazing
pike, all dripping with his blood, and dashed
it to the ground. Then, maddened with pain,
he called with a great and terrible cry on the
other Cyclopes, who dwelt in their caves on
the hill-tops round which the wind swept.
The giants, hearing his horrid yells, rushed
to help him.
'What ails thee, Polyphemus?' they asked.
'Why dost thou cry aloud in the night and
awake us from our sleep? Surely no one
stealeth thy flocks? None slayeth thee by
force or by craft.'
From the other side of the great stone moaned
Polyphemus: 'Noman is slaying me by craft.'
Then the Cyclopes said: 'If no man is
hurting thee, then indeed it must be a
sickness that makes thee cry so loud, and this
thou must bear, for we cannot help.'
With that they strode away from the cave
and left the blind giant groaning and raging
 with pain. Groping with his hands, he found
the great stone that blocked the door, lifted
it away, and sat himself down in the mouth
of the cave, with his arms stretched out,
hoping to catch Odysseus and his men if they
should try to escape. Sitting there, he fell
asleep, and, as soon as he slept, Odysseus
planned and plotted how best to win freedom.
The rams of the giant's flocks were great
strong beasts, with fleeces thick and woolly,
and as dark as the violet. With twisted slips
of willow Odysseus lashed every three of
them together, and under the middle ram of
each three he bound one of his men. For
himself he kept the best ram of the flock,
young and strong, and with a fleece wonder
fully thick and shaggy. Underneath this ram
Odysseus curled himself, and clung, face
upwards, firmly grasping the wool with his
hands. In this wise did he and his men wait
patiently for the dawn.
When rosy dawn came, the ewes in the pens
bleated to be milked, and the rams hastened
out to the hills and green meadows. As each
sheep passed him, Polyphemus felt along its
 back, but never guessed that the six remaining
men of Odysseus were bound beneath the
thick—fleeced rams. Last of all came the
young ram to which Odysseus clung, moving
slowly, for his fleece was heavy, and Odysseus
whom he bore was heavier still. On the ram's
back Polyphemus laid his great hands.
Dear ram,' said he, 'once went thou the very
first to lead the flocks from the cave, the first
to nibble the tender buds of the pasture, the
first to find out the running streams, and
the first to come home when evening fell.
But to-day thou art the very last to go. Surely
thou art sorrowful because the wicked Noman
hath destroyed my eye. I would thou couldst
speak and tell me where Noman is hidden.
Then should I seize him and gladly dash out
his brains on the floor of the cave.'
Very, very still lay Odysseus while the giant
spoke, but the ram slowly walked on past the
savage giant, towards the meadows near the
sea. Soon it was far enough from the cave
for Odysseus to let go his hold and to stand
up. Quickly he loosened the bonds of the
others, and swiftly then they drove the rams
 down to the shore where their ship lay. Often
they looked round, expecting to see Polyphemus
following them, but they safely
reached the ship and got a glad welcome
from their friends, who rejoiced over them,
but would have wept over the men that the
cannibal giant had slain.
'There is no time to weep,' said Odysseus,
and he made his men hasten on board the
ship, driving the sheep before them.
Soon they were all on board, and the grey sea-water
was rushing off their oars, as they sailed
away from the land of the Cyclopes.
But before they were out of sight of land, the
bold Odysseus lifted up his voice and shouted
across the water—
'Hear me, Polyphemus, thou cruel monster!
Thine evil deeds were very sure to find thee
out. Thou hast been punished because thou
hadst no shame to eat the strangers who
came to thee as thy guests!'
The voice of Odysseus rang across the waves,
and reached Polyphemus as he sat in pain at
the mouth of his cave.
In a fury the giant sprang up, broke off the
 peak of a great hill and cast it into the sea,
where it fell just in front of the ship of
So huge a splash did the vast rock give, that
the sea heaved up and the backwash of the
water drove the ship right to the shore.
Odysseus snatched up a long pole and pushed
the ship off once more. Silently he motioned
to the men to row hard, and save themselves
and their ship from the angry giant.
When they were once more out at sea,
Odysseus wished again to mock Polyphemus.
In vain his men begged him not to provoke a
monster so mighty that he could crush their
heads and the timbers of their ship with one
cast of a stone.
Once more Odysseus shouted across the
'Polyphemus, if any one shall ask thee who
blinded thee, tell them it was Odysseus of
Then moaned the giant—
'Once, long ago, a soothsayer told me that
Odysseus should make me blind. But ever
I looked for the coming of a great and gallant
 hero, and now there hath come a poor, feeble,
little dwarf, who made me weak with wine
before he dared to touch me.'
Then he begged Odysseus to come back, and
said he would treat him kindly, and told him
that he knew that his own father, the god of
the sea, would give him his sight again.
'Never more wilt thou have thy sight,'
mocked Odysseus; 'thy father will never heal
Then Polyphemus, stretching out his hands,
and looking up with his sightless eye to the
starry sky, called aloud to Poseidon, god of the
sea, to punish Odysseus.
'If he ever reaches his own country,' he
cried, 'let him come late and in an evil case,
with all his own company lost, and in the ship
of strangers, and let him find sorrows in his
No answer came from Poseidon, but the god
of the sea heard his son's prayer.
With all his mighty force Polyphemus then
cast at the ship a rock far greater than the
first. It all but struck the end of the rudder,
but the huge waves that surged up from it
 bore on the ship, and carried it to the further
There they found the men with the other
ships waiting in sorrow and dread, for they
feared that the giants had killed Odysseus
and his company. Gladly they drove the rams
of Polyphemus on to the land, and there feasted
together until the sun went down.
All night they slept on the sea-beach, and
at rosy dawn Odysseus called to his men to
get into their ships and loose the hawsers.
Soon they had pushed off, and were thrusting
their oars into the grey sea-water.
Their hearts were sore, because they had
lost six gallant men of their company, yet
they were glad as men saved from death.
For as yet not even wise Odysseus knew
of the vengeance of Poseidon, the sea-god,
that was to follow him and to make him a
sad man for ten long, weary years.
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