Does Odysseus meet the Cyclops before or after he lands on the island of Phaeacia, and where does it say this in the text?

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sfwriter eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Odysseus lands on Phaeacia after he has met the Cyclops, but the telling of the event takes place earlier in the text.  In Book 6, Odysseus lands on the island of Scheria, and is taken in by the king's daughter Nausicaa.  She brings him to Phaeacia, and he is welcomed in the palace of King Alcinoos and Queen Arete in Book 7.  It isn't until Book 9 that Odysseus tells the tale of his adventures after a feast in the palace to the assembled guests.  It is in this book that the story of the Cyclops is told:

At the Cyklopes' domain we gazed -- nearby were the people--
noticed the smoke of their fires and the bleating of goats and of sheep flocks.
Soon as the sun went down adn the shadows of night came upon us,
then we lay down to sleep on the tide-heaped sand of the seashore.
     Soon as the Dawn shone forth rose-fingered at earliest daybreak,
then I called an assembly and spoke among all the companions:
'All you others remain here now, my trustworthy comrade;
meanwhile, going ahead with my galley as well as my comrades,
I will learn something about these men, whoever they might be,
if they are bold and offensive and violent, lacking in justice,
or hospitable rather, possessed of a god-fearing conscience.'(9.166-76)

Odysseus speaks for such a long time -- for the entirety of books 9 through 12 -- that it is easy to forget that he is telling everything after the fact.  All the adventures before Phaeacia are told in "flashback", as a story to entertain the guests at Alcinoos' feast.  Homer, in order to provide some unity of time in the plot and a sense of urgency (for the preceding books have been concerned with what is happening to Penelope and Telemachus back on Ithaca, and it is meant to create a tension of time such that we believe these things are happening simultaneously) uses the method of switching back and forth between scenes of action. 

Source: Homer.  The Odyssey.  Rodney Merrill, trans.  Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006.


cybil eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Odysseus describes his encounter with the Cyclops in Book 9 to the Phaeacians during his visit with them. He arrives on the island of Scheria in Book 7, and he stays there for several days before he is ever asked his identity. Then he tells King Alcinous and Queen Arete and their court about his adventures with the Lotus-Eaters, Polyphemus the Cyclops, Aeolus the wind king, Scylla and Charybdis, and the Land of the Dead, among others.