Odysseus and the One-Eyed Cyclops

Theme: Analysis of art telling the story of Homer’s Odysseus and the One-Eyed Cyclops


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Format: 12 pt. font; Times New Roman; 1-inch margins on each side; top and bottom, MLA Format

General Structure:

1. Introduction with your thesis statements

2. Supporting Paragraph(s). Each paragraph must start with a sentence that defines your

discussion in the paragraph below

3. Conclusion: Not merely a summary of what you discussed above but a larger discussion of

your original thesis.

Part A: Read the following excerpts from Homer’s The Odyssey (Book IX) to give context to the scenes telling the story of Odysseus confrontation with the One-Eye Cyclops, Polyphemus

Poetry in Translation website: Homer’s The Odyssey


Part B: View TWO works of art

You are to view the following TWO works of art that depict scenes from Homer’s The Odyssey retelling the events of Odysseus and his encounter with the One-Eyed Cyclops. You may search the works of art from the Getty website (There is information to be located here):


  1. Pithos with the Blinding of Polyphemos (Workshop of the Calabresi Um, Etruscan, 650-625 BCE, Terracotta, 96.AE.135.a)
  2. Attic Black-Figure Column Krater (Mixing Vessel with Odysseus Escaping from the Cyclops Cave), (Greek Attic, second half of 6th century B.C., Terracotta, (96.AE.303 )

Part C: Write your essay comparing the poem to the works of art.

Here are sample questions to consider in your discussion once you have read the poem and viewed the works of art You may choose your own questions when evaluating the literature to the artworks.

• How can you relate the poem to the scenes depicted on the works of art? Is the narration depicted on the works of art in way different than what you read in the poem? If so, provide a brief description of what sees different in your analysis.

How has the artist chosen to illustrate these scenes of the story?

In your opinion, which artwork best illustrates the scenes depicted, the vases or the statuette?

How would you describe Odysseus? How does he react to the situations he finds himself in? Odysseus is known as the “quick-witted” and “wily” one. Does this story support his nickname? Why or why not?

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