Odysseus’ crew of 12 ships were beached on an uninhabited Island, where only goats lived. They decided to lower sail and sleep on the beach for the night. On the second day Odysseus assembled his crew and told them that he would take his ship to the neighbouring Islands, hoping to find hospitable and God-fearing people, not aggressive savages with no sense of right or wrong. When they reached the mainland, they spotted a cave which had a high entrance overhung by laurels. Odysseus decided that he would take 12 men to explore the cave, and told the rest to guard the ship. He brought with him some dark mellow wine in goatskin, which had been given to him by Maron son of Euanthes. To drink this wine, one needed to pour one cupful of wine into twenty of water. He took this wine with him as he believed that they might some sort of danger. They did not find the owner of the cave at home. Instead, they found baskets laden with cheeses, penned lambs and kids, and pails and bowls used for milking which were filled with whey. Odysseus’ men begged him to steal some of the cheeses, then come back and drive the lambs and kids to their ship. But Odysseus was not to be persuaded. He wanted to receive some gifts from the owner of the cave. So they lit a fire and made an offering to the gods, then helped themselves to some of the cheeses. And when they had eaten they sat down in the cave and waited for the owner to arrive. When the owner came – a Cyclops, he was shepherding his flocks and carrying a huge bundle of dry wood to burn at supper-time. He threw this down which startled Odysseus and his men. They retreated deeper into the cave. Meanwhile, the Cyclops drove his fat flocks – the ones he was milking, into the wider part of the cave. He left the rams and the he-goats outdoors. He then closed the entrance to the cave with a huge stone. It was a mighty slab that not even twenty-two four-wheeled waggons could not shift. After doing this, he sat down to milk his ewes and and his bleating goats. Once he was finished, he put each mother to her young. He then curdled half the white milk, collected the whey, and stored it in wicker cheese-baskets. He left the remainder in standing pails, so that it would be handy at supper-time when he wanted a drink.When he had finished all of his tasks, he re-kindled the fire and he spotted Odysseus and his men. “Strangers!” he cried, asking them who they were, where they were from and whether they were roving pirates risking their lives to ruin other people. Their hearts sank, and they started to panic. Despite this, Odysseus managed to answer him, “We are Achaeans.” he said. He told the Cyclops that on their way from Troy, they were driven astray by contrary winds that blew them across a vast expanse of sea. He explained that they were making their way home, but had taken the wrong route, he supposed was Zeus’ doing. He told the Cyclops that they were in the forces of Agamemnon, Atreus’ son, and that they were suppliants at his knees, and that they hoped that he would give them hospitality, and gifts. He reminded the Cyclops of his duty to the gods; that they were his suppliants, and that Zeus is the champion of suppliants and guests. He reminded him once more that Zeus was the god of guests, and that guests were sacred to him, and that he goes alongside them. However, with his pitiless heart, he told Odysseus that he must be a fool to come to the Land of The Cyclopes and order him to fear or reverence the gods. He told him that the Cyclopes cared nothing for Zeus with his aegis, nor any of the blessed gods since they were stronger than the gods were. He told Odysseus that he would never spare him or his men out of fear for Zeus, not unless he felt like it. He then demanded to know where he moored his ship, and whether it was somewhere along the coast, or nearby. But his words did not fool Polymetis Odysseus. He cunningly told the Cyclops, that his ship was wrecked by the Earthshaker Poseidon on the borders of his land. He told him that the wind had carried them onto a lee shore, and that the ship had been driven up the shore and hurled onto the rocks, but that they had escaped with their lives. To this, the cruel brute made no reply. Instead, he jumped up, reached forward and snatched up two of Odysseus’ men and dashed their heads onto the floor. Their brains ran out on the ground and soaked the earth. Limb by limb, he tore them to pieces to make his meal. He devoured them like a mountain lion, he left nothing, neither entrails nor flesh, marrow nor bones. At this ghastly sight, Odysseus and his men wept and lifted up their hands to Zeus in horror. They felt completely helpless. When the Cyclops had filled his great belly with the meal of human flesh, which he washed it down with unwatered milk, and stretched himself out to sleep among his flocks inside the cave. At first, Odysseus planned to summon up his courage and use his sword to pierce the beast in the liver, leaving him to die a painful death. But on second thoughts, he refrained. He realized that he would have sealed his own fate, as well as his men’s fate, but also the fate of the Cyclops, because they would have no way of escaping, as they would be trapped, with no way of pushing the huge doorstone the Cyclops had used to close the entrance to the cave. So with sighs and groans, they waited for the next day. The next morning, the Cyclops re-lit the fire and milked his ewes and goats, all in their proper order, putting her young to each. When he had finished, he once again snatched two of Odysseus’ men and prepared his meal. When he had eaten, he turned his plump flocks out of the cave, removing the great doorstone without effort. But he replaced it once more. Then, as he whistled, he drove his plump flocks off towards the mountain. Odysseus was left, with murder in his heart, scheming how to get revenge, if only Athene would grant him the prayer. And Odysseus came up with the best plan he could think of. Lying by the pen the Cyclops had a huge staff of green olive-wood. To them, it looked more like the mast of a ship. Odysseus cut off a fathom’s length from this timber, which he handed over to his men and told them to smooth it down. When they had done this, Odysseus sharpened it to a point. Then he hardened it in the fire, and finally, he carefully hid it under the dung, which was plentifully scattered throughout the cave. Odysseus then told his crew to help him lift the pole and twist it in the Cyclops’ eye when he was asleep. He chose four men from the remaining men. Which made a party of five. When the Cyclops finally returned, he shepherded all of his plump flocks into the cave, leaving none outdoors, either because he suspected something or because a god had ordered him to. He lifted the great doorstone, set it in its place, and then sat down to milk his ewes and bleating goats, putting each young to its mother. When he had finished he once again snatched two of Odysseus’ men and prepared his supper. When he had eaten, Odysseus offered him an olive-wood bowl filled with dark wine to wash down the human flesh which he had just eaten. He explained that he had brought it as a gift, hoping that he would have taken pity on him and helped him on his homeward way. The Cyclops took the wine and drank it up. And he liked it so much that he asked Odysseus for another bowlful. He also asked for his name, so that he could give him a gift. He explained that the Cyclopes had their own wine, made from the grapes that their rich soil and rains from Zeus produced, but that the vintage wine that Odysseus had given him was a drop of real nectar and ambrosia. So, Odysseus handed him another bowlful of the wine. He filled the bowl for him three times. And when the wine had fuddled his wits, Odysseus addressed him with soothing words. He said to the Cyclops that he would tell him his name, in return for the gift that the Cyclops had promised him. He told the Cyclops that his name was Nobody. And that is what he is called by his mother and father and by all his friends. The Cyclops answered him from his cruel heart. He would eat Nobody last, and the rest before him. And that would be Odysseus’ gift. He had hardly spoken before he toppled over and fell face upwards on the floor, where he lay with his great neck twisted to one side, and all-compelling sleep overpowered him. In his drunken stupor, he vomited, and a stream of wine mixed with morsels of men’s flesh poured from his throat. Odysseus went at once and thrust the pole deep under the ashes of the fire to make it hot, and meanwhile gave a word of encouragement to all his men, to make sure that no one would hang back through fear. When the fierce glow from the olive stake warned him that it was about to catch alight in the flames, he withdrew it from the fire and his men gathered around. A god now inspired them with tremendous courage. They drove the sharpened end of the olive pole into the Cyclops’ eye, while Odysseus used his weight from above to twist it home. They twisted it in the Cyclops’ eye till the blood boiled up around the burning wood. The scorching heat singed his lids and brow all round, while his eyeball blazed and the very roots crackled in the flame. He gave a dreadful shriek, which echoed around the rocky walls, and they backed away from him in terror, while he pulled the stake from his eye, streaming with blood. Then he hurled it away from him and shouted to the other Cyclopes who lived in the neighbouring caves. Hearing his screams, they gathered outside the cave asked him what was wrong. They asked why he was disturbing the peaceful night, and ruining their sleep with shouting, and whether there was a robber stealing his sheep or if there was somebody trying to kill him with treachery or violence. Polyphemus told his friends that it was Nobody’s treachery, not violence, that was killing him. They assumed that it really was Nobody bothering Polyphemus, and so they left him. Meanwhile, Odysseus was laughing to himself, proud of his cunning notion of a false name. The Cyclops, still mourning in agonies of pain, groped about with his hands and pushed the rock away from the mouth of the cave. Then he sat himself down in the doorway and stretched out both arms in the hope of catching Odysseus and his men in the act of slipping out among the sheep. Odysseus was thinking of the best possible course to save himself and his men. He thought up plan after plan, scheme after scheme. It was a matter of life or death: they were in mortal peril. Eventually Odysseus came up with a plan that was deemed best. The rams of the flock were of goodstock, thick-fleeced, fine, big animals in their coats of black wool. These he quietly lashed together with the plaited willow twigs which the inhuman monster used for his bed. He took them in threes. The middle one was to carry one of his men, with its fellows on either side to protect him. Each of his men thus had three rams to bear him. But for himself he chose a full-grown ram who was the pick of the whole flock. Seizing him by the back, he curled himself up under his shaggy belly and lay upside down, with a firm grip on his wonderful fleece and with patience in his heart. In this way, with sighs and groans, they waited for the next day. The next morning, the he-goats and the rams began to scramble out and make for the pastures, but the females, unmilked with udders full to bursting, stood bleating by the pens. Their master, though tortured and in terrible agony, passed his hands along the backs of all the animals as they stooped in front of him; but the idiot never noticed that Odysseus and his men were tied under the chests of his own wooly rams. The last of the flock to come up to the doorway was the big ram, burdened by his own fleece and by Odysseus, with his thoughts racing. As he felt the ram with his hands the great Polyphemus asked the ram why he was the last of the flock to pass out of the cave, because he never once lagged behind the others. He always stepped out so proudly, and was the first to make his way to the flowing stream, and first to want to return to the fold when evening fell. Yet today he was last of all. Polyphemus figured that he must be grieving for his master’s eye, which was blinded by Odysseus – whom he called a wicked man and thought his name was Nobody. Polyphemus told the ram how Odysseus was not yet safe, and that if only the ram could tell him where Odysseus was hiding. He would hammer Odysseus and splash his brains all over the floor of the cave, and he would be relieved from the suffering which Odysseus had caused him. Then he let the ram pass through the entrance. When the ram and Odysseus had put a little distance between themselves and the cave, he let go of his ram and then untied his men. Then, quickly they drove their sheep and goats right down to the ship. Odysseus’ companions were overjoyed when they saw the survivors, but cried for the others. With nods and frowns Odysseus indicated silently that they should stop their weeping and hurry to bundle the fleecy sheep and goats on board and put to sea. So they went on board at once, took their places at the oars, and all together struck the white water with the oars. But before they were out of earshot, Odysseus shouted out at Polyphemus. He told the Cyclops that he was not a weakling after all. He told him that his crimes were bound to catch up with him, and that Zeus and all the other gods have paid him out because he did not shrink from devouring his guests. His words enraged the Cyclops so much that he tore the top off a great pinnacle of rock and hurled it at them. The rock fell just ahead of their bow. As it plunged in, the water surged up and the backwash swept them landward and nearly drove them on to the beach. But Odysseus seized a long pole, and pushed the ship off, at the same time commanded his crew with urgent nods to bend their oars and save them from disaster. They leant forward and rowed with a will; but when they had taken them across the water to twice their previous distance, Odysseus was about to shout something else to the Cyclops, but his men called out to him, trying to restrain him. They questioned Odysseus on why he would want to the provoke the Cyclops further, when he had already thrown a rock at them and nearly drove them on to the beach, and they had narrowly escaped with their lives, and when they were still in range of the Cyclops. But Odysseus’ temper was up; and their words did nothing to dissuade him, and in his rage he shouted back at the Cyclops once more. He told Polyphemus that if anyone asked him how he was now blind, to tell people that it was Odysseus, sacker of cities, the son of Laertes, who lives in Ithaca’s doing. And with a groan, the Cyclops recalled the ancient prophecies of a once great and mighty man, Eurymus’ son of Telemus, the best of soothsayers, who grew old as a seer among the Cyclopes. He told Odysseus that all that has happened, Telemus foretold. When he was told of this prophecy, he’d imagined that a big handsome man of tremendous strength would rob him of his sight. He insulted Odysseus by saying how he did not live up to his expectations. But nonetheless, he would gift him with gifts on behalf of the great Earthshaker, Poseidon, for he is his son. He said that he would make sure to see that Odysseus got home safely, and that he is proud to be Poseidon’s son, and that he would heal him if he was willing – a thing no other blessed god nor any man on earth could do. To this Odysseus replied that he only wished that he could rob him of his life and breath and send him to Hell, and that he was certain that not even the Earthshaker would heal him. At this, the Cyclops lifted up his hands to the starry heavens and prayed to the Lord Poseidon. He prayed that Odysseus should never reach his home, but if that if he was destined to see his friends again, to make sure that he comes home late, having lost all of his comrades. So Polyphemus prayed, and the god of the sable locks heard his prayer. Once again the Cyclops picked up a boulder – bigger, by far this time – and hurled it with a swing, putting such tremendous force into his throw that the rock narrowly missed the tip of the rudder. The water heaved up as it plunged into the sea; but the wave that it raised carried them towards the further shore. They reached the Island where all of the ships and crew were waiting, keeping watch and waiting for their return. Once they had beached the ship, and jumped out on the shore, and unloaded the Cyclops’ flocks from the hold, they divided their spoil so that no one would go short of their proper share. But, Odysseus’ comrades-in-arms did him the special honour and presented him with the big ram. He sacrificed the big ram on the beach, burning slices from his thighs as an offering to Zeus of the Black Clouds, son of Cronos, who is lord of them all. However, Zeus took no notice of his sacrifice; for his mind must already have been full of plans for the destruction of all his fine ships and of his loyal band. So the whole day long, till sundown they sat and feasted on their rich supply of meat and mellow wine. When the sun set, and darkness fell, they lay down to sleep on the sea-shore. The next morning, Odysseus roused his men and ordered them to go on board and cast off. They climbed on board at once, took their places at the oars and all together struck the white surf with the blades. Thus they left the Island and sailed on with heavy hearts, grieving for the dear friends they had lost but glad at their own escape from death.