No one did it!

By: pelly*made

Jul 19 2013

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Category: Archives, photos

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Focal Length:10.64mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:HP PhotoSmart C945 (V01.74)

The astute hero, the ingenious plan and an act of violence

The renowned Proto-Attic amphora of Eleusis that was found in a grave (second quarter of the 7th century BC). On the neck of the vessel is the scene of Odysseus and his men blinding the Cyclop Polyphemus. A true masterpiece…

wiki: Polyphemus (greek: Πολύφημος Polyphēmos) is the gigantic one-eyed son of Poseidon and Thoosa in Greek mythology, one of the Cyclopes. His name means “much spoken of” or “famous”. He plays a pivotal role in Homer’s Odyssey.

In Book 9, Odysseus lands on the Island of the Cyclopes during his journey home from the Trojan War. As he reaches land he finds a giant cave filled with sheep and goats. He decides to leave his boat at shore and brings along his 12 best men to find who lives in the cave. Eventually it is the home of the great Cyclops Polyphemus. When Polyphemus returns home with his flocks and finds Odysseus and his men, he blocks the cave entrance with a great stone, trapping the Greeks inside. Polyphemus then eats two men after killing them by removing their brains as his meal the first night.

The next morning, Polyphemus kills and eats two more of Odysseus’ men for breakfast and exits the cave to graze his sheep. The desperate Odysseus devises a clever escape plan. He spots a rather large unseasoned olive wood club that Polyphemus left behind the previous night and, with the help of his men, sharpens the narrow end to a fine point. He hardens the stake over a flame and hides it from sight. At night, Polyphemus returns from herding his flock of sheep. He sits down and kills two more of Odysseus’ men, bringing the death toll to 6. Then, Odysseus offers Polyphemus the strong and undiluted wine given to him by Maron. The wine makes Polyphemus drunk and unwary. When Polyphemus asks for Odysseus’ name, promising him a guest-gift if he answers, Odysseus tells him “Οὖτις”, which means “no one”, “nobody”. Being drunk, Polyphemus thinks of it as a real name and says that he will eat “Nobody” last and that this shall be his guest-gift—a vicious insult both to the tradition of hospitality and to Odysseus.

With that, Polyphemus crashes to the floor and passes out. Odysseus, with the help of his men, lifts the flaming stake, charges forward and drives it into Polyphemus’ eye, blinding him. Polyphemus yells for help from his fellow cyclopes that “Nobody” has hurt him. The other cyclopes think Polyphemus is making a fool out of them or that it must be a matter with the gods, and they grumble and go away. In the morning, Odysseus and his men tie themselves to the undersides of Polyphemus’ sheep. When the blind Cyclops lets the sheep out to graze, he feels their backs to ensure the men are not riding out, but because of Odysseus’ plan, he does not feel the men underneath. Odysseus leaves last, riding beneath the belly of the biggest ram. Polyphemus does not realize that the men are no longer in his cave until the sheep and the men are safely out.

As he sails away with his men, Odysseus cries to Polyphemus that “I am not no one; I am Odysseus, Son of Laertes, King of Ithaca!”

This act of hubris will cause problems for Odysseus later on. Polyphemus prays to his father, Poseidon for revenge. Even though Poseidon fought on the side of the Greeks during the Trojan War, he bore Odysseus a grudge for not giving him a sacrifice when Poseidon prevented them from being discovered inside of the Trojan Horse.

The vivid nature of the Polyphemus episode in the Odyssey made it a favorite theme of ancient Greek painted pottery, both black-figure and red-figure pottery

– An E-book about the Archeological museum of Eleusis:

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