A/N: This is a report I did for English class a while ago. I got a good grade on it, and it would just rot in my documents unread for all eternity otherwise, so why not just post it here? I used the original dialogue from The Odyssey, and I tried to keep it as close sounding to the type of language used as possible. So without further ado, enjoy! And don't forget to review!
The Ballad of Polyphemus
It was a normal day of solitude when he and his men arrived. He must have come when I was out tending to my sheep in the pasture, for that was the only time I ever left the boulder off the entrance to my cave. When I came back that evening with my flock and boughs for my fire, he was there. I did not notice him right away—in fact, he didn't make his presence known until I had finished collecting the curds and whey from the milk of my sheep. I was tending to the fire and saw him and his men in the shadows of the cave.
"Strangers," I said, "who are you? And where from? What brings you here by seaways—a fair traffic? Or are you wandering rogues, who cast your lives like dice, and ravage other folk by sea?"
They looked a little frightened by me, but nonetheless a man I had guessed was the leader stepped forward and responded. "We are from Troy, Achaeans, blown off course but shifting gales on the Great South Sea; homeward bound but taking routes and ways uncommon; so the will of Zeus would have it. We served under Agamemnon, son of Atreus—the whole world knows what city he laid waste, what armies he destroyed. It was our luck to come here; we stand, beholden for your help, or any gifts you give—as custom is to honor strangers. We would entreat you, great Sir, have a care for the gods' courtesy, Zeus will avenge the unoffending guest."
I was not touched by his story, and frankly did not care very much where he had been or where he was from—I just wanted to know what kind of men I was dealing with, and if he was trying to impress me, it was not working. So I answered this: "You are a ninny, or else you come from the other end of nowhere, telling me, mind the gods! We Cyclopes care not a whistle for your thundering Zeus or all the gods in bliss; we have more force by far. I would not let you go for fear of Zeus—you or your friends—unless I had a whim to. Tell me, where was it, now, you left your ship—around the point, or down the shore, I wonder?" I wanted to make sure he couldn't evade me, so I hoped to find out the location of the ship so I could destroy it.
When he told me he had been shipwrecked on the shores of this island by Poseidon, I was truly overjoyed. I was sure that this was a gift from my father, and so I took two men in my hands, killed them, and ate them in celebration. Hearing the rest of the army cry out to Zeus in mercy as they saw these events unfolding only made me happier. I drank the liquid smooth whey to wash down my meal, and then went to sleep among myfluffy sheep, content with the way the day had gone.
My good mood was, unfortunately, about to change.
The next morning started like any other. As soon as dawn peeked over the horizon I rose with the sun, milked my ewes again, and constructed a fire, grabbing two more men for a morning meal. After breakfast, I took my sheep out to the pasture and made sure to close the huge boulder over the doorway behind me so that the men did not escape. When evening came, I made sure all of my flock—lambs, ewes, and rams—entered the cave with me before sealing the exit once again. Upon milking the ewes, I had two more men for dinner, which was when the leader decided to approach me. He had a dark liquid in a bowl, and held it up towards me.
"Cyclops, try some wine," he told me. "Here's liquor to wash down your scraps of men. Taste it, and see the kind of drink we carried under our planks. I meant it for an offering if you would help us home. But you are mad, unbearable, a bloody monster! After this will any other traveler come to see you?"
Though the liquid looked dark and foreboding, I took the bowl in my hand and drank. Once I had swallowed the drink that sent burning pleasure down my throat I commanded more of the wine. I also asked of his name, and promised to make a gift to please him. He gave me three more bowls of his dark wine, and once I had downed them all, he told me his name was Nohbdy.
I revealed theinsidious nature of what I had promised him about receiving a gift when I said, "Nohbdy's my meat, then, after I eat his friends. Others come first. There's a noble gift, now." The intoxication took over me then, and I fell back in sleep.
However, I was not asleep for long until a burning pain seared my closed eye that felt like a million spears stabbing through me instead of just one. I awoke, screaming, and pulled the spike out of my eye. This was all Nohbdy's plan, I was sure of it, and he was going to pay the price. I cried out for my mammoth-sized friends, the other Cyclopes that lived on this land around me.
"What ails you, Polyphemus?" they asked me. "Why do you cry so sore in the starry night? You will not let us sleep. Sure no man's driving off your flock? No man has tricked you, ruined you?"
Coming out of my cave, I replied to them that Nohbdy had tricked me. I was sure they would come and help me finish the rest of the army off after I told them what had happened, but this was not the case. Instead, they just told me they could not help with pain given to me by Zeus, and that I should pray to Poseidon for help. I heard them lumber away, and I cried out in pain as it struck me that I would have to deal with these intruders alone. So I blocked the entrance to my home with my large body, hoping they would be fool enough to make a run for it. I would catch them then and have my revenge on Nohbdy and the rest of them for thinking they could mess with me.
That night dragged out forever endlessly, hours and hours of blind and painful tossing and turning. The next morning, though I was still in great pain and bereft of sleep, I got up and took my flock out to the pasture. I noticed my best ram was lagging behind the rest, and I wondered what was troubling the animal. I assuaged the ram that I would surely get my revenge on Nohbdy, and took it out to the pasture. Everything was going fine, so I thought, until I heard Nohbdy's voice in the distance, where the ocean was.
"O Cyclops! Would you feast on my companions? Puny, am I, in a cave man's hands? How do you like the beating that we gave you, you cannibal? Eater of guests under you roof! Zeus and the gods have paid you!"
Once again, Nohbdy had tricked me! I also realized I could no longer hear the bleating of my flock, which could only mean one thing—Nohbdy had taken them, too. He had rendered my eye useless, made me look like a fool, and now he had plundered my sheep as well. I took the biggest mound of hard earth my hands could hold in my fury and hurled it at what I hoped was the direction of his ship. But instead of hearing the telltale sound of a ship breaking under the weight of what I had thrown, all I heard was a plunk as the stone hit the water, so I knew I had missed.
Amidst my anger, I heard Nohbdy call out to me, telling me his real name—Odysseus of Ithaca, Laertes' son, and I remembered what a wizard, Telemus, had warned me of once. He had cautioned me about a man named Odysseus that would blind me, but how was I to know the man that I was told was Nohbdy would be the one I should fear? I tried to bargain with Odysseus that if he came back, I would pray for Poseidon to befriend him, which helps if you are sailing the seas, but all he did was insult me. So I prayed to Poseidon never to let him see his home again, and even if he did, let it be a long time into the future and return to find dark days upon coming back.
As I threw another huge stone at his ship, I could only wish my request would come true.