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The Odyssey

The Odyssey

by Homer

The Odyssey Polyphemos Quotes Page 1

Quote #1

(Polyphemos, in Odysseus’s tale:) ‘“Hear me, Poseidon who circle the earth, dark-haired. If truly I am your son, and you acknowledge yourself as my father, grant that Odysseus, sacker of cities, son of Laertes, who makes his home in Ithaka, may never reach that home; but if it is decided that he shall see his own people, and come home to his strong-founded house and to his own country, let him come late, in bad case, with the loss of all his companions, in someone else’s ship, and find troubles in his household.” ‘So he spoke in prayer, and the dark-haired god heard him.’ (9.528-536)

Wounded Polyphemos invokes his father Poseidon as well as Fate to his aid in cursing Odysseus. This is excellent evidence that notions of fate and free will are not mutually exclusive. Odysseus chooses to blind the Cyclops and to reveal his name, therefore it is his fate to suffer at sea. His pride, not his destiny, determines the following course of events.

Quote #2

(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)

Not all divinities live on Mount Olympus. You have to be careful in The Odyssey, because there's always that chance that you're inadvertently ticking off some immortal with powerful connections—like a close family tie to the god of the sea.

Quote #3

(Polyphemos, in Odysseus's tale:) '"Hear me, Poseidon, who circle the earth, dark-haired. If truly I am your son, and you acknowledge yourself as my father, grant that Odysseus, sacker of cities, son of Laertes, who makes his home in Ithaka, may never reach that home; but if it is decided that he shall see his own people, and come home to his strong-founded house and to his own country, let him come late, in bad case, with the loss of all his companions, in someone else's ship, and find troubles in his household." 'So he spoke in prayer, and the dark-haired god heard him.' (9.528-536)

Polyphemos wants revenge. But is it justice? Zeus lets it happen—for a while, at least—so we're inclined to think that maybe it is. The question is whether it's Odysseus's punishment for blinding the guy, or for being dumb enough to reveal his name.

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