Q:

How does Odysseus defeat the cyclops?

A:

Quick Answer

In "The Odyssey," Odysseus defeats the sleeping cyclops Polyphemus by ramming a sharpened stake through his single eye. The blinded giant cannot distinguish Odysseus and his men from the sheep he lets out the subsequent morning, and they escape.

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Full Answer

In his ten-year journey home, Odysseus and his men land on the Island of the Cyclopes, believed to have been Sicily. They bring a gift of wine to the cave of Polyphemus, hoping for his help. When the cyclops returns with his sheep and sees the men, he blocks the cave door with a giant stone and eats two of the sailors. The next evening, Odysseus offers Polyphemus some strong wine, and the giant gets drunk, falling asleep. Odysseus and his men then prepare a sharp wooden stake, hardening it in the fire, and they drive it into the giant's single eye. Odysseus and his men tie themselves to the bottoms of the sheep in order to slip out the next morning. Though Polyphemus throws giant boulders at their retreating ship, he cannot hit it and the men escape.

According to the Encyclopedia Mythica, there were several other cyclopes mentioned in Greek myth, among them the immortal brothers of the Titans Brontes, Steropes and Arges, The cyclopes living with Polyphemus, however, were a mortal race. In Greek myth, cyclopes are often associated with giant fortifications, volcanoes, blacksmithing and the making of magical weaponry.

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