Big Guy with One Eye

When I first announced that I’d spend February posting daily Monster Mediations on this blog, I asked the Facebook followers of Candy’s Monsters to suggest their favorite monsters. I got some very good suggestions, including the Loch Ness Monster, the Sock Monster and — the Cyclops.

The big guy with one eye holds a special place in my heart. Not because I have a thing for large, one-eyed cannibals, but because he figures prominently in my initial infatuation with Greek mythology. It all started with The Odyssey.

My 9th grade English teacher offered us a choice between reading a prose version of Homer’s Odyssey and one in poetry. I won’t try to reconstruct my logic for choosing poetry — but that’s the one I picked. I remember one ‘rosy-fingered dawn’ after another — there seemed to be one on every page.

After we read it, we had to write our own version of one incident in the saga of Odysseus from an alternative point-of-view. In retrospect, I might have had more fun with Circe’s perspective when she turned some of Odysseus’ men into pigs or with Calypso’s view on sending her lover home to his wife, but I was a kid so I chose to write from the point-of-view of one of a sheep in the Cyclops’ herd.

If you don’t remember that particular part of the Odyssey, Homer and his men escape the monster by riding UNDER the sheep as, Polyphemus, the Cyclops leads them out of his cave. I wrote it with the appropriate number of ‘rosy-fingered dawns’ and then went on to describe — in dreadful verse — the put upon sheep, lugging a warrior out of the cave.

It was silly.

But I got hooked on the stories and interested in the fantastic creatures — like the Cyclops. From that very first reading, I’ve wondered about Odysseus and his decision to blind the monster. I thought it was a cruel choice and not the act of a hero. What do you think?



  1. Beth M.

    The first time in high school when I read The Odyssey all I could think about was that this had to be the first soap opera ever written. I mean it was full of greed, jealousy, love, infidelity, murder, etc. – it sort of puts Erika Kane to shame!

    Now to your question about whether it was cruel or not for Odysseus to blind the Cyclops Polyphemus – I have some thoughts: 1) Odysseus and his men faced the reality of kill or be killed and we all know how that goes so by maiming the Cyclops is he really to blame. 2) Like in most Greek mythology of gods and heroes Odysseus was, well, a narcissist. Having the goddess Athena as his protector allotted Odysseus the ability to act like a god as well and so felt he could do whatever he wanted as a hero. That said, he didn’t have to be so cruel and should have figured out another escape plan for his men and himself. 3) Pyloyphemus was really blinded by “nobody” so isn’t the question moot? Ha, ha, ha!