Polyphemus is the giant cyclops son of the nymph Thoosa and Poseidon, god of the sea.
He is described in the Odyssey, Homer’s epic poem, as a rough and beastly shepherd, distinguished by a single eye. In the oldest Greek myths, the cyclops are gigantic figures, children of the Earth and Heaven, the Greek gods Gaea and Uranus. Iron craftsmen, they lived in the caves of the volcanoes Etna and Stromboli where their forges were located. Tradition has it that they were assistants to the god Vulcan, to make thunder and lightning, weapons used by Zeus against the Titans. In fact, according to legend, the tremors and sparks of volcanoes are signs of them working.
Polyphemus owes his fame to his being one of the protagonists of the Odyssey, when he met Ulysses in his cave during a stop on his way from Troy to Ithaca. The episode expresses the brute force embodied by Polyphemus, who tears some of Ulysses’ companions to pieces, only to get drunk and be blinded, defeated by the cunning of the Greek hero who manages to escape using a ploy. During a conversation with the cyclops, he says he is called Nobody, thus confusing the other cyclops who Polyphemus called for help after being blinded by Ulysses.