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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 336


The hero of the story is Odysseus, who is returning from Troy and the Trojan War. He is a noble, upstanding hero who falls victim to his own pride. He is a valiant fighter and a clever leader who is able to devise elaborate plots and make quick decisions to ensure the safety of his men. He argues in favor of justice and welfare for the satyrs, as he wishes them to have better lives and more options. Odysseus's men accompany him to the Cyclops's island and help him blind Polyphemus, but they have no lines in the play.


Polyphemus is the giant Cyclops who terrorizes the satyrs and takes Odysseus and his men captive. He is a violent and abhorrent beast who cares only for his own wealth and power. He is known as a "man-eater" and lives up to the title several times in the play. He has a philosophical discussion with Odysseus about the merits of wealth and self-interest as opposed to generosity and welfare.


The leader of the satyrs, Silenus is a child of Bacchus, the god of wine, and is accordingly lewd and loves drinking and carousing. He trades food that he steals from Polyphemus to Odysseus for large portions of wine so that the satyrs can drink and have a party, in spite of the danger in which it puts them and Odysseus's men. He later helps with the plot to get Polyphemus drunk, but in the process, the Cyclops turns on him and takes him back to his cave, presumably for some form of sexual activity.

The Satyr Chorus

As is traditional in satyr plays, the satyrs are here employed as the chorus, led by Coryphaeus. They speak directly to Silenus and Odysseus at times, bringing them squarely into the story. The satyrs are both comic and cowardly, and while they initially agree to help Odysseus blind Polyphemus, they back out of the plan at the last minute. Drinking, reveling, and worshipping Bacchus are their main motivations in the play.

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