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The Odyssey

The Odyssey


by Homer

The Odyssey Polyphemos Quotes


Quote 4

(Polyphemos, in Odysseus’s tale:) ‘“Stranger, you are a simple fool, or come from far off, when you tell me to avoid the wrath of the gods or fear them. The Cyclopes do not concern themselves over Zeus of the aegis, nor any of the rest of the blessed gods, since we are far better than they […].”’ (9.273-287)

The punishment that Polyphemos ultimately suffers is justified by his refusal here to play by the rules. On the other hand, you could argue if Polyphemos and his people have chosen to live outside of Zeus’s rules, why should they be forced to comply with them? This would be like traveling to another country and chastising them for not celebrating the Fourth of July. Again, the counter-argument would be that Zeus, as the King of the Gods, rules everything and everyone without question. What do you think?

Polyphemos > Odysseus

Quote 5

(Polyphemos, in Odysseus’s tale:) ‘“Give me still more, frely, and tell me your name straightway now, so I can give you a guest present to make you happy.”’ (9.355-356)

The Cyclops shows false hospitality towards Odysseus, promising him a lovely gift if he will tell him his name. Readers know that Polyphemos is untrustworthy and suspect a trick.


Quote 6

(Polyphemos, in Odysseus's tale:) '"But tell me, so I may know: where did you put your well-made ship when you came? Nearby or far off?" 'So he spoke, trying me out, but I knew too much and was not deceived, but answered him in turn, and my words were crafty: "Poseidon, Shaker of the Earth, has shattered my vessel. He drove it against the rocks on the outer coast of your country, cracked on a cliff, it is gone, the wind on the sea took it […]." (9.279-285)

Polyphemos is trying to trick Odysseus, but the man of lies is one (or two, or three) steps ahead of him. You can't play a player, especially when that player is world-renowned for his game.