How does Odysseus and his men escape Polyphemus?

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chelseaosborne314 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Odysseus' escape from the Cyclops Polyphemus is a rather humorous one (and one that ends up causing problems for Odysseus later). When Odysseus and his men find themselves trapped in the cave of the Cyclops, being eaten two at a time, they come up with this plan: Odysseus gives Polyphemus some undiluted wine, which he had been given earlier in the trip. Polyphemus becomes drunk from the strength of the wine, and when he asks Odysseus for his name, Odysseus responds with, "Nobody," so Polyphemus promises to eat "Nobody" last, after eating all the others. Once Polyphemus is unconscious from the wine, Odysseus shoves a sharpened, hardened stake into the Cyclops' eye, effectively blinding him. The Cyclops then stumbles about, shouting that "Nobody" had blinded him, and the other Cyclops thought it was divine punishment, so they recommended that he pray for forgiveness. The next morning, Odysseus and his men tie themselves to the underside of Polyphemus' sheep and are set free when Polyphemus lets them out to graze. When they finally reach their ship, Odysseus tells Polyphemus his real name, so Polyphemus prays to his father, Poseidon, to avenge him.