THe Cyclops Incident Shows Both Odysseus's Strength And His Shortcoming

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Odysseus is careful and cunning when he believes that he or his men could be in danger, but when he believes the danger is over, he is an arrogant fool. In the paragraph proceeding the Cyclopes incident, all things appear to be going very well for Odysseus and his crew; "Heaven gave us game a-plenty"¦ We made our feast on meat galore, and wine"¦"(Book IX, lines 165-167) Even so, when they come across an unknown and possibly dangerous land, Odysseus wisely puts the safety of his friends first by surveying the island with one ship instead of all of them, by doing this he may have avoided a recurrence of the loss of life in the Kikones incident. However, once he is safely ashore, Odysseus's curiosity, greed, and arrogance overwhelm him; his men plead with him not to stay too long, but he wants to see what the monster has to offer.

However, once it is evident that the Cyclopes is more than he and his men can handle, Odysseus's cautiousness and wisdom take control of his appetite. First he tells the monster that his ship was wrecked on rocks, so that the Cyclopes will not go looking for more Hellenic desserts. Also, he refrains from killing the monster as it sleeps on the first night, realizing that without the beast's power, he and his men would be trapped. Then, with an amazing amount of foresight, he tells Polyphemos that his name is Nohbdy, which will allow his party to escape the wrath of the other Cyclopes. Finally, his quick thinking saves them all when they ride out of the open cave the next morning on the underbellies of the monster's flock. However, once Odysseus believes he is out of the monster's reach, he once again shows what a fool his arrogance can make him, by thrice taunting the monster, allowing it to find its range and nearly smash the ship with a huge boulder.