Illustration of Odysseus tied to a ship's mast

The Odyssey

by Homer
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Why does Odysseus bring wine with him in the Odyssey?

Odysseus brings wine with him because he suspects that he will need to use it against a powerful man or a savage. He uses this strong, potent vintage against the cyclops Polyphemus, getting the one-eyed giant blind drunk so that he and his men can make good their escape.

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Odysseus has taken many very important items with him on his epic journey, but few more important than the wine given to him as a gift by a grateful Maron, a priest of Apollo, for protecting his family.

The wine is a heady vintage indeed, incredibly strong even when mixed with water. It's just the kind of thing for pacifying a dangerous, mighty opponent. A few drops of this heady wine and they'll be out like a light.

Odysseus's prescience turns out to be truly remarkable, as the wine comes in very useful for helping him and his men to escape from the deadly clutches of Polyphemus, the fearsome giant cyclops who's trapped Odysseus and his men in a cave and is in the process of gobbling them up one by one.

Not wishing to lose any more of his men and certainly unwilling to be the cyclops's next snack, the ever cunning and resourceful Odysseus comes up with a great idea to get himself and his remaining men out of their terrible predicament. He plans to get the cyclops blind drunk, which will then allow him and the others to make good their escape. With that in mind, he gives Polyphemus some wine—undiluted, and therefore especially potent—and waits for him to fall asleep.

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