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How does Odysseus escape from Polyphemus?

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In Homer’s Odyssey, the main character is the hero archetype with his cunning and brave nature. During his quest, he overcomes many obstacles in his way by deceiving monsters, goddesses, and evil spirits. Book 9 presents the reader with a perfect example of Odysseus’s imaginative character and how he walks dry out of every storm.

Detailed answer:

Odysseus’s adventure leads him towards Ismarus, the city of Cicones (Cyclopes), one-eyed giants. His men, led by greed and foul desires, decide to stay on the island. It has enough food for the whole team, meat, cheese, milk, etcetera. However, soon the inhabitants of the island show up. One of them is Polyphemus, the son of Poseidon. The hospitality of a one-eyed giant soon has turned to hostility. He devoured two of Odysseus’s men and imprisoned the rest “for later.” Polyphemus put a giant rock over the entrance to ensure that none will escape their horrible fate.

Odysseus wanted to murder the monster with his sword right on the spot. However, he realized that his team would be trapped. He needed to outsmart the monster, or in other cases, he would soon die of hunger along with his command. Thus, Odysseus quickly mastered a plan. As Polyphemus went outside to pasture his sheep, Odysseus found a wooden staff in the cave and tried to harden it with fire. Upon Polyphemus’s return, Odysseus offered the giant some wine he had brought from his ship to get a one-eyed monster drunk.

As the one-eyed giant became tipsy, Polyphemus tried to ask the main character what his name was, to which Odysseus replied, “Nobody.” Not much time has passed as Polyphemus collapsed on the ground. That is when Odysseus, with a couple of his men, injured cyclopes by stinging his eye with glowing staff.

Polyphemus started to scream from immense pain. When his neighbors tried to ask what happened, he kept answering, “Nobody is killing me.” This was the brilliance of Odysseus’s plan, which quickly brought him freedom and victory over giants. In the morning, unseen by the blind son of Poseidon, Odysseus escaped along with his comrades. They attached themselves to the underbellies of Polyphemus’s sheep, which granted them the desired freedom.

As they were safe on the ship, Odysseus loudly revealed his true identity, proclaiming Polyphemus’s stupidity. The one-eyed giant was not able to reach them and get his revenge. However, he prayed to his father, Poseidon, to avenge him. The brilliance of this plan is that it is revealed step-by-step to the reader, and one cannot guess what is going to happen next. This move creates a sense of empathy for the main characters. Not only can they die, but there is also a perspective that they will kill a cannibal monstrosity.

The one thing a reader can consider rather foolish is that Odysseus revealed himself. He was too proud that he outsmarted the son of god. His pride ultimately leads the crew to another ‘adventure.’ It is understandable that Odysseus was angry with Polyphemus for his friends’ deaths. However, that taunt brought him nothing but more harm. As a final act of his vengeance, Odysseus also steals Polyphemus’s sheep to eat with his team.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'How does Odysseus escape from Polyphemus'. 1 December.

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