GAEA

Agustus 1, 2011 at 7:25 am (Uncategorized) (, )

Gaea is the Earth goddess. She mated with her son Uranus to produce the remaining Titans. Gaea seems to have started as a neolithic earth-mother worshipped before the Indo-European invasion that eventually lead to the Hellinistic civilization.

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GORGONS

Agustus 1, 2011 at 7:22 am (Uncategorized) (, )

These are female monsters with snakes for hair. Their faces are so ugly that any man that see the face will turn to stone. Oddly the three gorgons have very different origins. Stheno and Euryale were born as gorgons from Phorcys and Ceto. They are immortal. Medusa was not

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BELLEROPHON

Agustus 1, 2011 at 7:19 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

Bellerophon provides a lesson in the proper relationship between a mortal hero and the gods. When he was young he honored the gods and won their favor but, then his pride got the better of him and led to his downfall.

Bellerophon was the son of Eurynome, wife of Glaucus, by Poseidon. He was raised by Glaucus who thought Bellerophon was his own son. Considering both his fathers involvement with horses it is not surprising that he quested after Pegasus. After many failures he asked the seer Polyeidus for help.

Following Polyeidus instructions he spent the night at an alter to Athena. Here he had a dream of the goddess giving him a magical golden bridle. He awoke and found the bridle from the dream in his hands. He sensibly sacrificed to both Athena and Poseidon. This done he went to where Pegasus grazed and was able to bridle and ride the horse without difficulty. Triumphant in his success he went to King Pittheus and received permission to marry his daughter Aethra. However, before the marriage could take place he accidently killed a man, possibly one of his brothers, and was banished.

He went to King Proetus to be purified for his crime. This was done but, while staying as Proetus’s house guest the King’s wife, Stheneboea, attempted to seduce him. As an honorable man Bellerophon rejected her advances. This infuriated Stheneboea who then falsely accused him of attempting to seduce her.

Greatly upset, Proetus wished to be rid of Bellerophon without having to accuse him publicly. He was also concerned about harming a house guest as this was an offence to the gods. So he sent Bellerophon to deliver a sealed message to his wife’s father, King Iobates.

Arriving on Pegasus, Bellerophon was warmly received and settled in as Iobates house guest. Iobates unsealed and read the message thus learning of Stheneboea’s accusations against Bellerophon. This left Iobates in the same predicament of acting against a guest that had troubled Proetus.

Iobates solution was to ask Bellerophon to undertake a series of heroic but, normally deadly tasks. However, Bellerophon’s courage and skill as an archer combined with Pegasus as a mount allowed him to prevail. In addition his parentage, his sacrifices, and his acts of honor brought him the favor of the gods. His first task was to kill the terrible Chimaera. Succeeding here he was sent to conquer the neighboring Solymi tribe, who were Iobates traditional enemies. When he defeated them the King sent him to fight the Amazons. He was again victorious. In desperation Iobates laid an ambush against Bellerophon using his entire army. This army was killed to the last man.

At this point Iobates had the wisdom to notice that something was very wrong. He realized that the gods favored Bellerophon and that this favor would not have been given to a dishonorable house guest. Iobates succeed in making amends by giving Bellerophon half his kingdom, including the best farm land and his daughter Philonoe in marriage.

There are two stories concerning the fate of Stheneboea. One that Bellerophon extracted revenge by taking her for a ride on Pegasus then shoving her off to fall to her death. This seems unheroic. In the other version Stheneboea hears that Bellerophon has married her sister. She knows that this means her slander will be reveled and chose to kill herself.

It appeared that Bellerophon would live happily ever after. His glorious deeds were widely sung. He was happily married. Philonoe bore him two sons, Isander and Hippolochus, and two daughters, Laodameia and Deidameia. As a king his subjects loved and honored him.

All this was not enough for Bellerophon. In his arrogance he decided that he could ride Pegasus to Mount Olympus and visit the gods. Zeus quickly put an end to his trip by sending the gadfly to sting Pegasus and throw Bellerophon. He survived his fall but, was crippled. He spent the rest of his life wandering the earth. No man would help him because of his offense to the gods. He died alone with no one to record his fate.

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ATHENA – CHARACTER AND FUCTION

Agustus 1, 2011 at 7:13 am (Uncategorized) (, )

Although certain scholars have seen in Athena a personification of moisture, analogous to the Hindu Sarasvati, it seems more probable that she was in origin a storm and lightning-Goddess. Hence her normal attribute, the aegis – which in primitive times signified the stormy night – and her epithet as a Goddess ‘of the brilliant eyes’. She would thus be analogous to the Vedic Goddess Vach. But Athena very quickly lost this meteorological character.
Her functions are many: she is venerated among the great divinities in her quality of warrior-Goddess, as Goddess of the arts of peace and as Goddess of prudent intelligence.
To Athena the warrior – her oldest manifestation – belong the epithets Promachos (‘who fights in the foremost ranks’) and Alalcomeneis (‘who repulses the enemy’). She is the protectress of towns and the guardian of acropolises.
The pacific Athena protects various industries. She is preeminently the Ergane, or working woman, and is the patron of architects and sculptors, as well as of spinners and weavers. She also protects horses (Hippia) and oxen (Boarmia). The olive tree owed to her its fruit. Her wisdom, which earned her the epithet Pronoia (the Foreseeing), made her the counselor-Goddess (Boulaia) and the Goddess of the Assembly (Agoraia). Athena’s emblem is the owl.

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ATHENA AND BELLEROPHON

Agustus 1, 2011 at 7:06 am (Uncategorized) (, )

 The Chimaera battling Bellerophon on Pegasos
Louvre A 478 (inv. no. MNB 1745)

 

In Ephyre, the city later called Corinth, Glaucus was King. He was the son of Sisyphus who in Hades must forever try to roll a stone uphill because he once betrayed a secret of Zeus. Glaucus, too, drew down on himself the displeasure of heaven. He was a great horseman and he fed his horses human flesh to make them fierce in battle. Such monstrous deeds always angered the Gods and they served him as he had served others. He was thrown from his chariot and his horses tore him to pieces and devoured him.

In the city a bold and beautiful young man named Bellerophon was generally held to be his son. It was rumored, however, that Bellerophon had a mightier father, Poseidon himself, the Ruler of the Sea, and the youth’s surpassing gifts of spirit and body made this account of his birth seem likely. Moreover his mother, Eurynome, although a mortal, had been taught by Athena until in wit and wisdom she was the peer of the Gods. It was only to be expected on all scores that Bellerophon should seem less mortal than divine. Great adventures would call to such a one as he and no peril would ever hold him back. And yet the deed for which he is best known needed no courage at all, no effort, even. Indeed, it proved that

What man would swear cannot be done, –
Must not be hoped for, – the great Power on high
Can give into his hand, in easy mastery.

More than anything on earth Bellerophon wanted Pegasus, a marvelous horse which had sprung from the Gorgon’s blood when Perseus killed her. He was

A winged steed, unwearying of flight,
Sweeping through air swift as a gale of wind.

Wonders attended him. The spring beloved of poets, Hippocrene, on Helicon, the Muses’ mountain, had sprung up where his hoof had struck the earth. Who could catch and tame such a creature? Bellerophon suffered from hopeless longing.

The wise seer of Ephyre (Corinth), Polyidus, to whom he told his desperate desire, advised him to go to Athena’s Temple and sleep there. The Gods often spoke to men in their dreams. So Bellerophon went to the holy place and when he was lying deep in slumber beside the altar he seemed to see the Goddess standing before him with some golden thing in her hand. She said to him, “Asleep? Nay, wake. Here is what will charm the steed you covet.” He sprang to his feet. No Goddess was there, but a marvelous object lay in front of him, a bridle all of gold, such as never had been seen before. Hopeful at last with it in his hand, he hurried out to the fields to find Pegasus. He caught sight of him, drinking from the far-famed spring of Corinth, Pirene; and he drew gently near. The horse looked at him tranquilly, neither startled nor afraid, and suffered himself to be bridled without the least trouble. Athena’s charm had worked. Bellerophon was master of the glorious creature.

In his full suit of bronze armor he leaped upon his back and put him through his paces, the horse seeming to delight in the sport as much as he himself. Now he was lord of the air, flying wherever he would, envied of all. As matters turned out, Pegasus was not only a joy, but a help in time of need as well, for hard trials lay before Bellerophon.

In some way, we are not told how except that it was purely through accident, he killed his brother; and he went to Argos where the King, Proetus, purified him. There his trials began and his great deeds as well. Anteia, the wife of Proetus, fell in love with him, and when he turned from her and would have nothing to do with her, in her bitter anger she told her husband that his guest had wronged her and must die. Enraged though he was, Proetus would not kill him. Bellerophon had eaten at his table; he could not bring himself to use violence against him. However, he made a plan which seemed certain to have the same result. He asked the youth to take a letter to the King of Lycia in Asia and Bellerophon easily agreed. Long journeys meant nothing to him on Pegasus’ back. The Lycian king received him with antique hospitality and entertained him splendidly for nine days before he asked to see the letter. Then he read that Proetus wanted the young man killed.

He did not care to do so, for the same reason that had made Proetus unwilling: Zeus’s well-known hostility to those who broke the bond between host and guest. There could be no objection, however, to sending the stranger on an adventure, him and his winged horse. So he asked him to go and slay the Chimaera, feeling quite assured that he would never come back. The Chimaera was held to be unconquerable. She was a most singular portent; a lion in front, a serpent behind, a goat in between –

A fearful creature, great and swift of foot and strong,
Whose breath was flame unquenchable.

But for Bellerophon riding Pegasus there was no need to come anywhere near the flaming monster. He soared up over her and shot her with his arrows at no risk to himself.

When he went back to Proetus, the latter had to think out other ways of disposing of him. He got him to go on an expedition, against the Solymi, mighty warriors; and when Bellerophon had succeeded in conquering these, on another against the Amazons, where he did equally well. Finally Proetus was won over by his courage and his good fortune, too; he became friends with him and gave him his daughter to marry.

He lived happily thus for a long time; then he made the Gods angry. His eager ambition along with his great success led him to think “thoughts too great for man,” the thing of all others the Gods objected to. He tried to ride Pegasus up to Olympus. He believed he could take his place there with the immortals. The horse was wiser. He would not try the flight, and he threw his rider. Thereafter Bellerophon, hated of the Gods, wandered alone, devouring his own soul and avoiding the paths of men until he died.

Pegasus found shelter in the heavenly stalls of Olympus where the steeds of Zeus were cared for. Of then all he was foremost, as was proved by the extraordinary fact the poets report, that when Zeus wished to use his thunderbolt, it was Pegasus who brought the thunder and lightning to him..

Adapted from Mythology,
Pegasus and Bellerophon
by Edith Hamilton

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THE STORY OF CALLISTO

Juli 30, 2011 at 10:12 am (Uncategorized) (, )

Callisto was another maiden who excited the jealousy of Juno, and the goddess changed her into a bear. “I will take away,” said she, “that beauty with which you have captivated my husband.” Down fell Callisto on her hands and knees; she tried to stretch out her arms in supplication,– they were already beginning to be covered with black hair. Her hands grew rounded, became armed with crooked claws, and served for feet; her mouth, which Jove used to praise for its beauty, became a horrid pair of jaws; her voice, which if unchanged would have moved the heart to pity, became a growl, more fit to inspire terror. Yet her former disposition remained, and, with continued groaning, she bemoaned her fate, and stood upright as well as she could, lifting up her paws to beg for mercy; and felt that Jove was unkind, though she could not tell him so. Ah, how often, afraid to stay in the woods all night alone, she wandered about the neighborhood of her former haunts; how often, frightened by the dogs, did she, so lately a huntress, fly in terror from the hunters! Often she fled from the wild beasts, forgetting that she was now a wild beast herself; and, bear as she was, was afraid of the bears.

Whirpool Galaxy in Ursa Major

Whirpool Galaxy in Ursa Major

One day a youth espied her as he was hunting. She saw him and recognized him as her own son, now grown a young man. She stopped, and felt inclined to embrace him. As she was about to approach, he, alarmed, raised his hunting spear, and was on the point of transfixing her, when Jupiter, beholding, arrested the crime, and, snatching away both of them, placed them in the heavens as the Great and Little Bear.

Juno was in a rage to see her rival so set in honor, and hastened to ancient Tethys and Oceanus, the powers of ocean, and, in answer to their inquiries, thus told the cause of her coming; “Do you ask why I, the queen of the gods, have left the heavenly plains and sought your depths. Learn that I am supplanted in heaven, — my place is given to another. You will hardly believe me; but look when night darkens the world, and you shall see the two, of whom I have so much reason to complain, exalted to the heavens, in that part where the circle is the smallest, in the neighborhood of the pole. Why should any one hereafter tremble at the thought of offending Juno, when such rewards are the consequence of my displeasure! See what I have been able to effect! I forbade her to wear the human form, — she is placed among the stars! So do my punishments result, — such is the extent of my power! Better that she should have resumed her former shape, as I permitted Io to do. Perhaps he means to marry her, and put me away! But you, my foster parents, if you feel for me, and see with displeasure this unworthy treatment of me, show it, I beseech you, by forbidding this guilty couple from coming into your waters.” The powers of the ocean assented, and consequently the two constellations of the Great and Little Bear move round and round in heaven, but never sink, as the other stars do, beneath the ocean.

Milton alludes to the fact that the constellation of the Bear never sets, when he says,

“Let my lamp at midnight hour
Be seen in some high lonely tower,
Where I may oft outwatch the Bear.”
Il Penseroso

And Prometheus, in James Russell Lowell’s poem, says,

“One after one the stars have risen and set,
Sparkling upon the hoar-frost of my chain;
The Bear that prowled all night about the fold
Of the North Star, hath shrunk into his den,
Scared by the blithsome footsteps of the dawn.”

The last star in the tail of the Little Bear is the Pole star,
called also the Cynosure. Milton says,

“Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures
While the landscape round it measures.
* * * * * * * *
Towers and battlements it sees
Bosomed high in tufted trees,
Where perhaps some beauty lies
The Cynosure of neighboring eyes.”
L’Allegro.

The reference here is both to the Pole-star as the guide of mariners, and to the magnetic attraction of the North. He calls it also the “Star of Arcady,” because Callisto’s boy was named Arcas, and they lived in Arcadia. In Milton’s Comus, the elder brother, benighted in the woods, says,
“Some gentle taper!
Through a rush candle, from
the wicker hole
Of some clay habitation,
visit us
With thy long levelled rule
of streaming light,
And thou shalt be our star of Arcady,
Or Tyrian Chynsure.”

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APOLLO AND HYACINTHUS

Juli 30, 2011 at 10:09 am (Uncategorized) (, )

Apollo loved Hyacinthus, but accidentally killed him: Apollo and Hyacinth Myth. Hyacinth’s blood stained the flower beneath his dying body.

Apollo and Hyacinthus

Apollo was so in love with the very beautiful Spartan prince Hyacinthus, son, perhaps, of King Amyclas and Diomede, that he shared in the mortal youth’s life, enjoying the human’s pursuit of sports. Unfortunately, Apollo wasn’t the only enamored deity. One of the winds, Zephyros or Boreas, was, as well. When Apollo and Hyacinthus were throwing the discus, the jealous wind made the discus Apollo had thrown bounce up and strike Hyacinthus. Hyacinthus died, but from his blood sprang the flower that bears his name.

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APOLLO’S MATE

Juli 30, 2011 at 10:07 am (Uncategorized) ()

Apollo mated with many women and a few men. He sired mostly males.

  • Marpessa (daughter of Euenos)
    Their offspring was Kleopatra, wife of Meleager, although her father may have been Idas. Parthenos is said to have been Apollo’s only daughter [by Chrysothemis (see below)].
  • Chione (daughter of Daedalion)
    Their son was Philammon.
  • Koronis? (the daughter of Azan)
  • Daphne (daughter of Gaia)
  • Arsinoe (daughter of Leukippos)
    Their son was Asklepios (Asclepius).
  • Kassandra (Cassandra)
    See Hughes’ Oresteia for information on the prophetess who actually rejected the god.
  • Kyrene
    Their son was Aristaios
  • Melia (an Oceanid)
    Their child was Teneros.
  • Eudne (daughter of Poseidon)
    Their son was Iamos.
  • Thero (daughter of Phylas)
    Their child was Chairon
  • Psamathe (daughter of Krotopos)
    Linos was their son who was killed by dogs.
  • Philonis (daughter of Deion)
    Philammon, their son, was the first man to train choruses of young women.
  • Chrysothemis
    Their daughter was Parthenos who after an early death become the constellation Virgo.

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APOLLO

Juli 30, 2011 at 10:05 am (Uncategorized) (, )

Most people know of Apollo only as a sun god, but he’s much more. Apollo, sometimes called Phoebus with or without Apollo, is a Greek and Roman god with many, and sometimes conflicting attributes. He is a patron of intellectual pursuits, the arts, and prophesy. He leads the Muses, for which reason he is called Apollo Musagetes. Apollo is sometimes called Apollo Smitheus. It is thought that this refers to a connection between Apollo and mice, which makes sense since Apollo shoots plague arrows to punish disrespectful humans.
There is much to say about Apollo. If he’s unfamiliar, start with the glossary entry on Apollo.

Apollo is thought to inspire the priestess of Delphi to pronounce oracles. Apollo is associated with the laurel, which is used in certain games to crown the victor. He is a god of music, prophecy, and later, the sun.

The Greek god Apollo is the brother of Artemis (huntress and sometimes thought of as the moon goddess), and the son of Zeus and Leda.

Apollo is associated with the prophecies coming from the Delphic oracle and the laurel, since when he pursued Daphne she was turned into a laurel tree to escape from him.

Apollo had few children and many romances. The healing god Asclepius was one of these children. Because of his gifts, Asclepius not only could, but did bring mortals back to life. Zeus was horrified and so stopped him by killing him.

In Euripides’ play Alcestis, Apollo has been forced by Zeus to labor as punishment for his grief-stricken misbehavior when Zeus killed Asclepius.

The Romans did not have a noticeably different version of the name Apollo.

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POSEIDON’S LOVERS

Juli 30, 2011 at 6:47 am (Uncategorized) (, )

Much like his brother Zeus, Poseidon had many affairs. Unlike Hera, however, Poseidon’s wife was neither jealous nor vindictive. In fact, the myths don’t indicate that Amphitrite took much notice of her husband’s love affairs. (According to one story, however, Amphitrite did notice Scylla and, in a fit of jealousy, turned her into a monster.)

Poseidon had affairs with mortals and immortals alike, fathering many children. The following sections describe the best known of his many conquests.

Aethra

Aegeus, ruler of Athens, was unable to have children with his wife, so he went to seek the advice of an oracle. The oracle warned him not to open his wine flask until he reached the highest point in Athens. Aegeus didn’t understand the oracle’s advice. Disappointed, he went to visit the king of Troezen. The king got Aegeus drunk and sent his daughter, Aethra, to his bed chamber. She and Aegeus made love, but that same night she left his bed to make a sacrifice. Poseidon approached her, and this pair also made love. (Some myths say she was raped by Poseidon and that the whole situation was set up by Athena.)

Aethra conceived a child that night — but no one knew whether the father was Aegeus or Poseidon. Most believed that the child was Poseidon’s, although Aegeus claimed the child, a son, as his own. The child, Theseus, became a famous hero. (See Chapter 19 for details about Theseus’s life.)

Amymone

Amymone was one of the fifty daughters of King Danaus. The king sent Amymone and her sisters to find water in the land of Argos. Poseidon had caused the region to dry up, so locating water seemed an impossible task. After walking for many miles, Amymone became tired and decided to rest. Left alone, she was approached by a satyr. (Another myth states that Amymone, in pursuit of a deer, accidentally hit the satyr with a spear.) The satyr attempted to rape the girl, but Poseidon interceded, using his trident to chase away her attacker.

Poseidon proceeded to court Amymone for himself. After making love to her, Poseidon used his trident to create a spring so Amymone could bring water back to her family. (Some myths tell the story a bit differently, saying that Poseidon did not create the spring intentionally but accidentally struck a rock with his trident while chasing the satyr.) Amymone succeeded in her goal of finding water, and Poseidon succeeded in adding another lover to his list.

Amymone and Poseidon had a son from their union: Nauplius, whose extensive knowledge of the seas and astronomy would make him a hero to seafarers. Nauplius also founded the town of Nauplia, a famous naval port near Argos.

Demeter

Another of Poseidon’s conquests was his sister Demeter. Wishing to escape her brother’s advances, Demeter transformed herself into a mare. But Poseidon wasn’t to be put off. He transformed himself into a stallion and mated with her in a pasture, both of them in the form of horses.

Together they produced Desponia, a nymph, and Arion, a wild horse. Desponia was worshiped alongside her mother in Arcadia. The people there erected statues of the mother and daughter as women with mares’ heads. Arion was a famous winged horse who could speak. Some myths say that his right feet were like a human’s.

Iphimedia

Iphimedia was an unhappily married woman. Her husband, Aloeus, a son of Poseidon, was also her uncle. Iphimedia was in love with Poseidon and made a habit of walking along the seashore. She would often sit down and scoop up the water, allowing it to flow over her breasts. Poseidon found this alluring, and his union with Iphimedia produced two sons: the Giants Ephialtes and Otus.

According to some myths, Iphimedia wasn’t the biological mother of Ephialtes and Otus. Rather, like the other Giants, these two were sons of Gaia. These myths say that Iphimedia raised Ephialtes and Otus, acting as their nursemaid.
Medusa

As you recall from Chapter 4, Medusa was a Gorgon, with snakes for hair and a terrifying appearance that could turn anyone to stone. Some myths say, however, that Medusa wasn’t always this fearsome creature. In these myths, she was once a beautiful woman, and her beauty caught Poseidon’s eye.

Poseidon approached Medusa as she was visiting one of Athena’s temples. They made love in the temple — an act unacceptable to the virgin goddess Athena. As punishment, Athena turned Medusa into the horrifying creature she is known as today. However, this transformation wasn’t enough for Athena; she also helped Perseus to slay Medusa.

When Perseus cut off Medusa’s head, two children appeared — Chrysaor and Pegasus — the results of her union with Poseidon. Some myths say that Chrysaor was born from Medusa’s neck and Pegasus from her blood. Others say that both were born when drops of Medusa’s blood landed in the sea.

Chrysaor means “the man with the golden sword”; he was born wielding a golden sword. He would grow to marry Callirrhoe (an Oceanid) and father two children: Geryon (a Giant with three heads) and Echidna.

Echidna was a horrible beast: half-woman and half-serpent. Not all myths agree that she was born of Chrysaor and Callirrhoe. According to Hesiod, she was the daughter of Phorcys and Ceto. Some myths even say that she was the daughter of Gaia and Tartarus. Despite these differences, all agree that she was a frightening creature — and the mother of most of the monsters in classical mythology.
The second son, Pegasus, was a winged horse, who would later play a role in several myths. Pegasus was wild and free until tamed by either Athena or the hero Bellerophon (depending on which myth you read). At the end of his days, Pegasus was changed into a constellation.

Theophane

Theophane was a beautiful young woman who had several suitors, including Poseidon. To avoid competition, the sea god abducted Theophane and took her to an island.

Theophane’s suitors searched for their missing love. They eventually discovered where she was, but before they could reach her Poseidon turned the island’s inhabitants to sheep — including Theophane. At the same time, Poseidon transformed himself into a ram. When the suitors arrived on the island and found nothing but a big flock of sheep, they decided to have a feast. As they prepared to slaughter the animals, Poseidon changed the sheep into wolves that slaughtered the suitors instead.

Poseidon and Theophane mated while in their sheep forms, so their son (whose name is not recorded) was born a ram. But this wasn’t just any ram — he had a fleece of gold and was able to speak and fly.

Thoosa

Thoosa was the daughter of Phorcys (a son of Gaia). Her affair with Poseidon is known mostly for its offspring: the Cyclops Polyphemus. Polyphemus was not one of the original race of Cyclopes. Instead, he was a violent, savage, man-eating creature. Chapter 19 tells what happened when the hero Odysseus ran up against Polyphemus.

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