6Seeing is believing, or is it? Remember the old joke about the wife who walks in on her husband and her best friend making whoopee? The husband denies it happened as the best friend gets dressed and leaves the room.
His wife says: “Of course it happened. I just saw it.” He replies: “Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?” Which allows us to effortlessly segue into my favorite one-eyed denizen of Greek Mythology- Polyphemus, the Cyclops.
It is possible you haven’t given much thought to Polyphemus recently. You really should think more about Cyclops than all those weight loss miracle drug ads infesting TV. Today we will close the attention gap between Polyphemus, America’s favorite Cyclops, and Ozempic the little pill with a big story to tell.
As we all know, a Cyclops is a giant with only one eye, the better to see you with My Dear. Polyphemus came from good stock. His Daddy was Poseidon the God of the Ocean. His Momma was Thoosa, a sea nymph with a human upper body and the lower body of a giant snake.
The union of Poseidon and Thoosa shows that there is someone for everybody, so keep swiping right. Love can come to everyone. Baby wart hogs are proof that a female wart hog looks good to a male warthog.
Polyphemus lived a quiet life raising large sheep on a lonely island. His pastoral life was interrupted when our old pal Odysseus was coming home from the Trojan War. Odysseus had been at sea for a while. He needed to resupply his ship to feed his men. Like Carl Denham landing his ship on King Kong Island, Odysseus landed on Polyphemus’ island looking for vittles.
Without so much as a By Your Leave to ask Polyphemus, Odysseus and some of his men started pillaging Polyphemus’ cave which was more crowded with good stuff than the Buc-Ees on I-95 at Florence, South Carolina.
Polyphemus came back to his cave with his sheep while Odysseus and his buddies were still inside stealing food and loot. He was not amused at the home invasion of his cave. You might even say Polyphemus was Hangry. Thanks to Snickers candy we know humans “are not you when you’re hangry.” You can imagine what a giant hangry Cyclops would be like. You would not like Polyphemus when he is hangry.
Polyphemus grabbed up two of Odysseus’ men. Like Hannibal Lector, he ate them for supper with a nice Chianti and some fava beans. He dropped a giant boulder to block Odysseus from getting out of the cave.
The next day, Polyphemus ate two more men with his morning coffee. When he came back in the evening he had two more men for dessert. Odysseus, being pretty clever, saw where this was going.
Fortunately, Odysseus had some magic wine with him from a prior adventure which he gave to Polyphemus to drink. Polyphemus got drunk and started chatting with Odysseus.
He promised Odysseus he would eat him last if he told him his name. Odysseus lied, telling him his name was “Nobody.” Polyphemus promptly passed out from all the wine. While he was asleep, Odysseus rammed a sharp stake into Polyphemus’s one eye blinding him.
The sharp optical stick woke Polyphemus up. He started yelling for help from the other Giants. When they asked who was hurting him, Polyphemus said “Nobody” had hurt him. They figured the Gods were punishing Polyphemus. They recommended thoughts and prayers instead of helping him. The next morning, blind Polyphemus let his sheep out to graze. To be sure Odysseus and his men didn’t sneak away, Polyphemus rubbed the back of each sheep to be sure it was a sheep. Odysseus had all his men tie themselves under the sheep so Polyphemus would not realize they were escaping. They pulled the wool over Polyphemus’ bad eye. When they got back to their ship, Odysseus had to rub It into Polyphemus by yelling his real name as he sailed away.
Polyphemus was sorely vexed by this turn of events. He could tell where Odysseus was by his yelling insults. Like Ernest T. Bass with a brick when he was in love with the beautiful Rowena, Polyphemus ripped off the top of a mountain and chunked it at Odysseus’ ship barely missing sinking it.
So, what have we learned today? Beware of Greeks bearing sharp sticks. Odysseus should have kept his mouth shut once he got out of the cave. Always remember, if you get what you want, you do not need an awards ceremony. Take the win and sail away. Discretion is the better part of valor.

(Illustration by Pitt Dickey)

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