Learning about Greek mythology – Ulysses and Polyphemus

Posted by Máistir Ó Beirn On March - 23 - 2018

The legend of the giant Polyphemus is told in Homer’s Odyssey. We visited Zafferana to learn all about it. Ulysses, after having lost his way back to Ithaca, arrives in the land of the Cyclops, human figures with only one eye.

Achilles, at the head of 12 men decides to enter the cave of the Cyclops. They begin to devour the large amount of food they find inside the cave, until the Cyclops called Polyphemus returns home. Finding the men eating all the food he is very angry and devours two of them. Then he traps the others in the cave.

Ulysses, as a trick, offers Polyphemus a gift of the wine he had brought with him from the ship. Polyphemus gladly accepts the drink and, now drunk, he asks Ulysses his name. The name Ulysses sounds very much like the ancient Greek word for ‘nobody’ so the cyclops heard the reply as “my name is nobody”. When the giant fell asleep, Ulysses avenged his companions by blinding him.

When he awoke, Polyphemus shouted like a madman and tried unsuccessfully to get free. Ulysses and his companions ran fast towards the ships that moored on the coast of Sicily and when the other cyclops came to the aid of Polyphemus and asked who had done this to him, he replied: “It was nobody”.

The Cyclops, furious and red with anger, detached three large rocks from the ground and threw them towards the sea, in a vain attempt to demolish the Greek ships. These three huge rocks, the stacks, can still be seen in the waters of Aci Trezza on the coast of Sicily.


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