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  #1  
Old 10-17-2002, 09:41 AM
Dadeville English Dadeville English is offline
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How tall was Polyphemus (the cyclops in The Odyssey)?

I am teaching a high school English class on The Odyssey and I asked my students to draw the cyclops. I also asked them to tell me how tall he was thinking that I could find this information and tell them who guessed closest. I couldn't find how tall the guy was anywhere. Help please!

Thanks, John Zumwalt
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  #2  
Old 10-17-2002, 10:00 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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Big enough to pick up two men at a time and kill them, and to require the bole of a tree to blind him. Most vase paintings show him as 2-3 times the size of a person. See the ones below:


http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin...kup=Polyphemos

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin...p=Louvre+F+342

Here's the text:

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin...out=&loc=9.318
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Old 10-18-2002, 10:16 PM
margot lane margot lane is offline
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The thing about the Odyssey is you can't..really...make it literal, however hard you try. It's about myth, more than...fact. I once tried to chart an actual geographical map of their course, and it damn near killed me! My advice? Tell the kids to read this book over & over & preferably aloud & to really use their imaginations. If we knew exactly everything in this book it wouldn't be as awesome....
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Old 10-18-2002, 11:47 PM
elsobrante elsobrante is offline
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In the movie The Odyssey, Polyphemus looks like he's about 15 feet tall. There is no definitive answer, Homer was alive what, 3000 years ago.
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Old 10-19-2002, 03:08 AM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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A bit more than that...12th century B.C., even.

Hell, it's the Odyssey! Tell the kids to use their imagination!
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Old 10-19-2002, 03:25 AM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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Or an Ionian of the 8th or 9th century, if you're a revisionist.

Seriously: my answer above sounded flip, and I didn't mean it to be. This is a great idea for an assignment.

Polyphemus isn't given an exact height we can translate in modern terms. However, he's described as doing and being certain things, like sealing up a cave so that over 10 men can't escape, eating six men, being the son of Poseidon, being blinded by a log, etc. etc. Get your students to estimate what the height and weight of such a creature would have had to have been, and grade the weight of their arguments for their positions.
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Old 10-19-2002, 08:21 AM
peepthis peepthis is offline
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And if I'm remembering my reading of it, didn't Odysseus and crew finally escape by riding on the undersides of Polyphemos' sheep (goats?) through his legs, after they blinded him? Gotta be pretty tall to stand that far above over your livestock.
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