Ulysses, king of Ithaca, a Greek island, in his pilgrimage with his twelve ships in the Mediterranean sea, met Â the wrath of Zeus who had unleashed another storm, and Odysseus and his men were so tossed about that they lost the notion of time and not were not able to focus anymore. So when they saw a large, green island dotted with rocks and inlets created by prehistoric lava flows and a volcano that spit fire, smoke and incandescent stones, but white with snow and beautifully looking, well-fed sheep on its lower slopes at this view they jumped for joy. But they did not know that this was Sicily, the land of the Cyclops.
On the island of Sicily, near the volcano Etna, lived seven brothers and the
y were all gigantic and terrible. Only the names of four of them were known: Bronte â€“ Sterope â€“ Arge and Polyphemus. Polyphemus was the eldest and the most monstrous, he was particularly fond of his brother Bronte. These seven brothers were the sons of Poseidon and they belonged to the breed of the Cyclops they had one single big eye in the middle of the forehead. They all lived on sheep-farming, and they were rude and nasty villains.
Every time they saw some ships at the horizon they would hide to spy on the ships with their single eye their eyes were filled with red veins and emanated all the hatred and malice that they felt towards humans, and the mere thought of meeting them was enough to scare anyone. When the ships came within shooting-distance the Cyclops took aim and began throwing stones and big boulders, but since they only had a single eye the Cyclops did not score very often. But when they managed to score they got so excited that they would beat, with all the superhuman power they had, their fists on the ground causing terrible quivers and sounds of explosion throughout the island.
Polyphemus was grazing his flock when Ulysses and his comrades arrived at his enormous cavern, and since these visitors believed in the hospitality of the Cyclops, they brought a lot of wine as a gift and they waited for Polyphemus to return. Suddenly they heard a roar and heavy footsteps that shook the rocks. Terrified, the visitors hid behind a big boulder in the cavern. A scary looking giant arrived, he crouched at the entrance and croaked â€œCome here, my flocks. Come to Polyphemus to be milked. â€ Ulysses jumped. He had heard of Polyphemus and the Cyclops and knew that they were in trouble. Indeed, the Cyclops do not work the land â€œ.. trusting in the immortal .. â€œthey do not know how to navigate, they do not live in larger groups but only with their small familyâ€ .. each command their children and wives, regardless of each other .. â€œ.. They have no assemblies of counsel, no law ..â€
When Polyphemus was done milking he lit a fire, and it was not until the flames became tall and bright that he noticed the twelve men hiding behind the boulder. Polyphemus roared with anger: Foreigners, sheep thieves! I will tear you into pieces and eat you for dinner Â. At these terrible words, some of the twelve visitors died of fright. One moment later Polyphemus grabbed two of the men and put them in his mouth, grinding them with his sharp teeth. Then, having rolled a large boulder in front of the entrance of the cave, he lay down to sleep. While his snoring echoed between the walls, Ulysses tried to devise a plan. But he remembered nothing. So, the next morning, the giant took two other men and devoured them as he had done with the first two.
After that Polyphemus went out of the cave with all of his sheep and again put the boulder in front of the entrance. They were trapped! Ulysses observed a log thrown on the ground, and got an idea. He sharpened the log until it became a long sharp pole. They were all hiding when Polyphemus returned. Just Â like the night before, Polyphemus milked his sheep and devoured two other men. Then he made a mighty belch, and after having rolled the boulder in front of the entrance he lay down on the ground.
But this time he did not fall asleep immediately, and Ulysses jumped out to talk to him: â€œCyclop, oh Cyclop, perhaps you would like some wine, ruby-red, after such a big meal of meat. Everyone knows that red wine goes well with a large piece of meat oh big Cyclopâ€. (and here comes to mind the first sommelier of the story) This way you will know what kind of beverage that we brought on our ships, said Ulysses shyly with a lump in his throat thinking of all the men that he had lost. Polyphemus replied â€œHow dare you advise me what to do, and who are you?â€ And Ulysses answered, well aware of the fact that he could not tell the truth: my name is â€œNobody â€ and I am the leader of these helpless men that by mistake came to disturb you. Â
Polyphemus hesitated for a moment, and remained suspicious of this confidence. The fire had by now spread a nice warmth in the cave, and Polyphemus held out his huge hands to warm them. â€œWell done,â€ he said. â€œYou men are really small and insignificant creatures, but you have lit a nice fire.â€ Ulysses pretended to be grateful. â€œWe just want to serve you, great Polyphemus,â€. Ulysses gave Polyphemus a bowl of wine, and the Cyclop drank all of the sweet drink, and then said: â€˜Give me more, boy. Tell me again your name, because I want to give you the gift of hospitality. We Cyclops also produce wine, but you wine is pure nectar and ambrosiaÂ. Ulysses said: â€œCyclop, you ask me again for my name, and Iâ€™ll tell you: you give me, as you promised, the gift of hospitality. Nobody is my name: Nobody is what my mother and father call me, and Nobody is what all the other comrades call me, and I am the leader of the men who were lost due to the storm. â€ â€ Well (said the Cyclop) the gift that I will give to you is that I will eat you last of allâ€.
When the monster collapsed after getting drunk by drinking the sweet nectar that Ulysses gave him. When all seemed quiet in the cavern, Ulysses and then his men took the big sharpened log and put it into the fire, and when it was well heated they grabbed it together and stuck it in the eye of the Cyclop. Polyphemus made a terrible scream that shook the whole mountain. The Cyclop then pressed his hands on his eye, shouting and roaringÃ‚Â to the point that the Greek visitors almost became deaf. â€œWhy is it so dark?â€ Polyphemus roared. Â â€œI do not see anything,â€. Polyphemus began to feel the walls and the floor of the cave, searching for Ulysses and his comrades. His huge fingers kept hitting the ground near them: the fingers were big enough to crush them. Ulysses ran toward the pile of sheepskins. Quickly he threw one to each partner. â€œCover up and get on all four , he said. â€œThen crawl towards the entrance.Â Quickly the Greek did as Ulysses said. Suddenly he felt the fingers of the Cyclop touching the sheepskin that covered his back: they had a huge weight. Polyphemus then touched the skin of a sheep, then another and another. Under each of them there was a Greek. They ran awayÂ he roared. â€œThose clever rascals! They blinded me and fled. Only the sheep are left in this cave!â€.
As fast as they could, Ulysses and his men crawled out of the cave. Once outside, they The faster they could, Ulysses and his companions came crawling from the cave. Once outside, they took off the sheepskins that had saved their lives and ran towards the beach. â€œThe ship is too damaged to sailÃ¢â‚¬Â, Ulysses immediately said. â€œBut the boats are fine. Hurry! Put them in the water and lets go away from this island. In the meantime, the brothers of Polyphemus heard the dreadful cries and went to the cave to try to find out what had happened. But since they knew Polyphemus temper, no one had the courage to ask. Finally Bronte, his favourite brother, asked: â€œPolyphemus what happened? Why are you shouting and screaming so loud? â€œ. Polyphemus answered: was Nobody. The Cyclops looked at each other not knowing what he meant, and again on the advice of the others Bronte asked: Â â€œWhy do you scream and cry, what happened to you? â€ and Polyphemus replied: â€œIt was Nobody, Ã‚Â Nobody blinded me, and Nobody with his men ran away.
Now the cyclops felt mocked, they turned around and left. Ulysses and his six remaining comrades , using the sails and the oars, reached the ships that the crew had already prepared and they quickly sailed away, leaving the coast behind them.
Meanwhile, Polyphemus, who imagined what had happened,Â tried as he could to reach the fugitives, but since he was blinded he could not catch the fugitives in time. The boats were heading fast towards the sea. At that point, Ulysses, feeling sure that they could not be reached, from the prow of the ship, in a tone of mockery and not without a good dose of pride for having come away with, yelled at the Cyclops: Polyphemus, oh Â Polyphemus Â If someone should ask who blinded you, do not say that it was Nobody, but tell them it was Ulysses, king of Ithaca. â€
Polyphemus, when he heard these words, got furious. He had heard of this King of Ithaca called Ulysses, and he knew that sometimes that Ulysses and his fleet of ships lined the shore, and when they were close to Taormina Polyphemus with his brother Bronte had several times thrown huge rocks at his ships but they never managed to hit him. Livid with rage, he took the top of a hill and hurled it toward the direction from which came the voice of Ulysses.
The gesture had no effect. The boat floated gently with the waves produced by the fall of the boulder and went to sea. Polyphemus did not give up. He seized the crest of another hill and hurled it against the ships. But even this attempt failed miserably.
Those of you who don’t believe in all of this can easily verify: the tops of the hills are still there in the sea of Acitrezza, a few hundred meters from the coast Ã¢ they are the so called Faraglioni dei CiclopiÂ (the Cliffs of the Cyclops). In despair, Polyphemus raised his arms to heaven and prayed for his father Poseidon, the god of the sea.
â€œFather â€“ implored the Cyclop â€œ make Ulysses suffer just as I am suffering, and may he only arrive at home after many misadventures, without ships and without companions.â€
But Ulysses and his men, with a favorable wind, in less than a dayâ€™s sail arrived to the Aeolian Islands, where dwelt Aeolus, the god of winds.
Many other adventures awaited Ulysses and his companions before they returned to Greece and to their homes. But they would always remember the night that they escaped the Cyclop as the most hideous and dangerous of all.