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The Cyclops were tall, strong giants with a single eye in the middle of their forehead. They were the first blacksmiths and worked for Hephaestus, god of fire and the forge, in Mount Etna, forging invincible weapons and shields, as well as Zeus’ famous thunderbolt.
The most irascible of the Cyclops was Poliphemus, son of Poseidon, a shepherd who lived in a large cave full of huge cheeses and fresh milk. When Ulysses and his crew moored their ships off Lachea Island and went to the mainland to forage, they found his cave on the slopes of Mount Etna, but Polyphemus ignored the rites of hospitality, took them prisoner and started to eat them.
Ulysses blinded Polyphemus with a wooden stake while he slept, but when he shouted for help saying that nobody had hurt him the other Cyclops thought he had been afflicted by a divine power and told him to pray. Ulysses and his men tied themselves under the sheep and escaped when Polyphemus let them out to graze. Furious and blind, Polyphemus threw three immense boulders of black lava stone at Ulysses’ ships.