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POLYPHEMUS, in Greek mythology, the most famous of the Cyclopes, son of Poseidon and the nymph Thoosa. He dwelt in a cave in the south-west corner of Sicily, and was the owner of large flocks and herds. He was of gigantic stature, with one eye in the middle of his forehead, a consumer of human flesh, without respect for the laws of god or man. Odysseus, having been cast ashore on the coast of Sicily, fell into the hands of Polyphemus, who shut him up with twelve of his companions in his cave, and blocked the entrance with an enormous rock. Odysseus at length succeeded in making the giant drunk, blinded him by plunging a burning stake into his eye while he lay asleep, and with six of his friends (the others having been devoured by Polyphemus) made his escape by clinging to the bellies of the sheep let out to pasture. Euripides in the Cyclops essentially follows the Homeric account. A later story associates Polyphemus with Galatea (see Acis).

Homer, Odyssey, ix. ; Ovid, Melam. xiii. 749; Theocritus xi. See W. Grimm, Die Sage von Polyphem. (1857); G. R. Holland, in Leipziger Studien (1884), vii. 139-312.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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