Cave of the Cyclops

polyphemos Odyssey, Book IX – in the Cave of Polyphemos near Palermo, Sicily

(NB: The spelling “Polyphemus” is a Latinization, as is the name “Ulysses”, from Odysseus.)
Locations in Homer are difficult to pin down, but the misadventures of Odysseus and his men with the Cyclops (Kyklops) may have taken place on the northern coast of Sicily, on the Tyrrhenian Sea, since they scooted to the nearby Aeolian Islands after escaping from him (although some place the encounter on the south side, claiming a different locale for Aeolia of that period). We like the north side, a shoreline studded with caves, any one of which could have been the dwelling of the one-eyed giant – indeed, some of those caves were inhabited by Neolithic cave painters practicing cannibalism (prototypes of the Kyklopes?) during the supposed dates of the Mycenaean Era. Odyssey Club members could meet in the area for a cruise through one of the echoing caves: imagine selections from Homer reverberating impressively from the grotto’s walls.
Or how about selections from Handel’s Acis and Galatea, based on Ovid’s version of the depredations of Polyphemos.
For a preview of the Handel, start here, and if you want more, once on YouTube enter Handel Acis and Galatea as a search term – A kind but piratical soul has uploaded the whole thing (with a stellar cast)!


For a preview of Homer, here’s a passage from a recent translation, by Robert Fitzgerald:
(Polyphemos to Odysseus) – ‘You are a ninny,
or else you come from the other end of nowhere,
telling me, mind the gods! We Kyklopes
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.

(Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 1998).

Dates not set – Members wishing to participate should send a list of dates convenient for them (3 is a good number, summer a climate-appropriate time).

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