Polyphemus, the Cyclops and his encounter with Ulysses: His appearance and legendary deeds

In the fascinating world of Greek mythology, Polyphemus holds a special place. This terrifying, mythical Cyclops left his mark on his era through his encounter with one of the world's most cunning heroes: Ulysses. This key moment, set in the immortal pages of Homer's Odyssey, remains one of the most captivating in the story.


The Odyssey, at the heart of ancient literature, remains a major work , spanning the ages and breathing life into the legends of the past. It recounts the adventures of Ulysses, the Homeric hero par excellence, and his journey home after the Trojan War.

Description of Polyphemus

Polyphemus, a gigantic figure with a single enormous sloe, embodies the quintessence of the Cyclops.

  • General appearance: Colossal size, disproportionate strength and a single eye in the middle of his forehead.
  • Particularities of the Cyclops: A race of primitive giants, associated with brute strength and asocial behavior.

In the privacy of his island, between sea and sky, Polyphemus leads a solitary life .

  • The island of wandering**: A place populated by Cyclops brothers, but isolated from gods and men.
  • Description of the cave: A dwelling dug into the rock, muffled echoes and animal smells.

The symbolism surrounding Polyphemus is rich and complex.

  • Representation of barbarism**: His figure illustrates the opposite of the civilized values advocated by Athens.
  • Contrast with civilization: In the face of Odysseus' cunning and intelligence, Polyphemus embodies crass ignorance.

The legendary encounter between Polyphemus and Odysseus

The small island seems to offer Odysseus and his companions shelter when fate leads them there .

  • Odysseus' arrival: The hero and his sailors, in search of resources, venture into this hostile land.
  • First interactions**: Curiosity leads Ulysses to the cave where Polyphemus lives as a recluse.

Polyphemus, far from being the perfect host, soon reveals his appalling nature.

  • Welcoming the sailors**: a hospitality service that proves to be a terrible mistake for some sailors.
  • Revelation of the Cyclops' nature: The monster gives in to his bestiality, provoking terror and despair.

Ulysses must then use his intellect to escape.

  • The stratagem of drunkenness**: Ingeniously inebriating Polyphemus with wine to lessen his vigilance.
  • The lie of the name "Nobody "** : A deception to cover his tracks and conceal his identity.

The heroic escape and its consequences

Odysseus' plan calls for cunning rather than force.

  • The implementation of the plan** : The meticulous preparation of the stake to blind the Cyclops.
  • The Cyclops' wound**: Polyphemus, hit in the heart with his only eye, is plunged into darkness.

The escape, the culmination of Odysseus' ingenuity, reinforces his status as a hero.

  • Exit strategy from the cave: Clinging to the underside of the sheep to escape blind surveillance.
  • Escape to safety**: A discreet, triumphant exit, despite Polyphemus' impotent rage.

Polyphemus' curse then weighs on the rest of the epic.

  • In his agony, Polyphemus invokes his father to curse Ulysses.
  • Impact on Odysseus' journey: Ulysses' trials multiply, echoing this damnation.

Polyphemus' posterity and cultural influence

Polyphemus, far beyond mythology, inspires the arts through the ages.

  • Painting and sculpture**: Immortalized by the beauty of shapes and colors.
  • Modern rewrites and adaptations** : The story revisited to offer new perspectives.

In the spirit of the times, Polyphemus also finds its place in the multimedia universe.

  • From grandiose peplums to animated series, the figure of the Cyclops fascinates.
  • References in contemporary music and literature** : The myth's modern resonance across genres.


The myth of Polyphemus, surviving the test of time, continues to provoke questions and admiration. The avenue encounter with Ulysses, incarnation of the ultimate strategist, consecrates a key moment of heroism in the face of adversity. This remarkably timeless story bears witness to the richness and impact of myths on our culture and imagination.