P to Peitho Pelasgians to Phaedrias Phaeo to Pitys Plataea to Polyphemos 2 Polyxena to Pyxis 2

Plataea to Polyphemos


An ancient city in Boeotia approximately 9 miles (15 kilometers) southwest of the city of Thebes; the site of the final defeat of the invading Persians in 479 BCE.

Due to Plataea’s proximity to the powerful city of Thebes, it was under threat of being subjugated by the Thebans; the Plataeans asked the Spartans for protection but Sparta, either for practical or tactical reasons, advised the Plataeans to ask the city of Athens for an alliance; the Athenians agreed to help Plataea if Thebes became too aggressive and, circa 525 BCE, the Thebans tried to extend their territory beyond the traditional boundaries of Plataea.

The Athenians sent troops to assist the Plataeans but, by good fortune, the Corinthians happened to be in Plataea and arbitrated a settlement between Thebes and Athens before an armed confrontation could erupt; boundaries were agreed upon and all seemed well until the Athenians prepared to leave; the Thebans fell on the Athenians in an ambush and, although caught off-guard, the Athenians won the battle; the Athenians returned to Plataea and renegotiated the peace agreement with a humbled Thebes; Plataea was allotted more land than the original agreement had stipulated because of the Theban treachery; for this reason, when the Athenians faced the invading army of the Persian king, Darius, in 490 BCE on the fields of Marathon, the Plataeans came to their assistance and fought victoriously with the Athenians.

Plataea was the site of the final confrontation between the invading Persian army and the defending Greeks in 479 BCE; the Persians had marched an enormous army from Asia into Greece and Plataea was one of the two cities of Boeotia which had not cowed to the threats of the Persians; the Persians demanded earth and water from each city they encountered to demonstrate that city’s surrender to the Great King; as the Persians marched south through Boeotia, the citizens of Plataea evacuated their city and took refuge at the Isthmus of Korinth (Corinth) where they intended to make a last stand with the other defiant Greek refuges.

After the Persians had sacked and burned the city of Athens, their army seemed invincible but the Persian king, Xerxes, underestimated the resiliency of the Greeks; the naval confrontation near the island of Salamis was a disaster for the Persians; the Persian king withdrew his remaining ships to protect the retreat of his army, which was poised to invade the Peloponnesian Peninsula; Xerxes decided to leave a portion of his army in Greece and he chose his cousin, Mardonius, to command the three hundred thousand troops he left behind augmented by an unrecorded number of troops from the Greek cities which had joined the Persians; by comparison, the defending Greeks assembled thirty-eight thousand seven hundred heavily armed men with an additional thirty-four thousand five hundred lightly armed men for a total of seventy-three thousand two hundred warriors.

Near Plataea, the two armies were facing one another across the Asopos river and neither side initiated an attack for ten days; the Persians were waiting for their sacrifices to show favorable omens and the Greeks were waiting for more soldiers to join their ranks; Mardonius was eager for a confrontation but his advisor, Artabazus, wanted to retreat to the nearby city of Thebes and use their accumulated wealth to simply buy-off the remaining hostile Greek cities; Mardonius chose to take the initiative and the Persian attack was scheduled for dawn on the eleventh day.

The Greeks were, as was their nature, bickering amongst themselves as to where each contingent should be placed in the battle lines; at dawn, Mardonius taunted the Spartans and challenged them to a one-on-one fight, i.e. the Persians, without their allies, would fight against only the Spartans and the fate of Greece would depend on which army won the battle; the Spartans did not respond to Mardonius and the full scale battle was soon joined; the Persian cavalry charged into the midst of the Greeks and caused considerable casualties; the cavalry attack also cut the Greeks off from their water supply so after night fell on that first day of fierce fighting, the Greeks decided to retreat a mile or so to the river Oeroe.

During the night the Greeks withdrew, but not to the Oeroe; they moved over 2 miles (3 kilometers) to the temple of Hera at Plataea; the retreat went badly for the Greeks, especially the Spartans who were not accustomed to turning away from an enemy; one Spartan commander, Amompharetus, flatly refused to withdraw from the front lines and the other Spartans were hesitant to leave him alone to be overwhelmed by the Persians; after much arguing and bitter words, most of the Spartans pulled back from the front lines but stayed close enough to come to the assistance of the stubborn commander, Amompharetus.

When Mardonius saw that the Greeks had withdrawn, he mocked the Spartans and ordered his troops to advance on the cowardly Greeks; the Persian cavalry went first followed by a disorderly onrush of foot soldiers; Mardonius focused his attention on the Spartans and let his allied Greek soldiers deal with the Athenians; the Spartans were pushed back to the temple of Hera again and the Persians did much damage from behind a wall of wicker shields with arrows and other missiles; the Spartan commander, Pausanias, prayed to Hera and, almost immediately, the tide of the battle turned in favor of the Spartans.

Mardonius was in the midst of the battle on his white charger and surrounded by a thousand of the best Persian troops; the Persians were good fighters but, compared to the Greeks, they were lightly armed and out maneuvered; Mardonius was felled and the determination of the Persian soldiers fell with him; Herodotus notes that not one Persian soldier died in the precincts of the temple of Hera because, according to his reasoning, the Persians had burned her temple at Eleusis and were therefore divinely prohibited from touching her sacred grounds at Plataea.

The various contingents of soldiers on both sides of the battle were in no way coordinated or orchestrated in their attacks or defense; the Athenians and the Spartans were the most determined of the Greeks and the Persians soldiers were by far the best of their Asian and Greek allies; some of the soldiers on both sides never entered the battle and many did not know or understand the tactics their commanders were initiating; the Spartans fought fiercely at the temple of Hera but there were other Greek soldiers there that did not fight at all.

While Mardonius was leading his fatal charge against the Spartans, his deputy, Artabazus, was leading his forty thousand troops away from the battle and his retreat assured the Persian defeat; when the Persians and their allies realized that the battle was lost, they began to make a disorganized retreat towards the walled city of Thebes and another wooden fortress they had erected in Theban territory; if the Persian cavalry had not protected their retreat their losses would have been one hundred percent; the Greeks pursued and slaughtered the majority of the fleeing Persians and their allies.

Several curious things happened after the battle was over which can give us some insight into the minds of the Greeks who defended their homeland and did not surrender their freedom to the seemingly overwhelming Persian forces:

  1. A man named Lampon encouraged the Spartan leader, Pausanias, to cut the head from Mardonius’ dead body and impale it as revenge for the four thousand Spartans who were killed at Thermopylae, especially for their leader, Leonidas whom the Persians beheaded and impaled; Pausanias told Lampon that such acts were the deeds of barbarians and that although Leonidas was his uncle, he would never dishonor his family or city with such a low and shameful display of mutilation;
  2. After the Persians had fled, the Greeks confiscated all the slaves and goods that were left behind; when Pausanias saw the wagons of food and the rich Persian dinnerware, he made the Persian cooks prepare a meal as if it was for Mardonius or Xerxes; he then had his slaves prepare a typical Spartan meal and laid the two suppers out side by side; the Persian meal was elegant compared to the simple Spartan meal; he called in his generals and said that the Persians must be stupid to dine on such fine food and then come to Greece to steal their humble fare.

The battle of Plataea was over and the Greeks had won the day with their superior military acumen and sheer bravery; the next time the Persians were fated to face a Greek army was when Alexander the Great conquered them in 331 BCE.

Approximate east longitude 23.25 and north latitude 38.22.

  • Histories, book 6, chapters 111 and 113; book 7, chapters 132, 232-3; book 8, chapters 50 and 66; book 9, chapters 28-86
  • Plato

    (circa 427-347 BCE) The father of western philosophy.

    The facts of Plato’s life are easy to relate but the effect he has had on western culture is impossible to measure; Plato was the son of Ariston and Periktione and lived just after the Age of Perikles (Pericles), i.e. 444-429 BCE; his family was literate and politically active and assumed to have been part of the Athenian aristocracy; as a student of Sokrates (Socrates), Plato learned that ideas could be fatal and much of his work centers around the philosophy and execution of Sokrates (399 BCE).

    As a teacher, Plato began lecturing in an olive grove near the city of Athens that was sacred to the hero, Akademus (Academus); the term, Academy, was taken from this olive grove and has come to mean any center of learning; Plato wrote prolifically and much of his writing has survived the ravages of time; most of Plato’s work is in the form of dialogues and his ideas are expressed in conversations, as opposed to speeches.

    There are, literally, thousands of books written about Plato, his works and his contributions to western culture; I recommend: Plato by Bernard Williams (ISBN 0415923956 paperback) and any of the Benjamin Jowett translations of Plato.


    The seven daughters of Atlas who were relentlessly pursued by the hunter, Orion, until they were changed into pigeons by Zeus and eventually put in the night sky as a constellation.

    The Pleiades are: Alkyone (Alcyone), Asterope, Kelaeno (Celaeno), Elektra (Electra), Maia, Merope and Taygete.


    The seventeenth Agiadai king of the city of Sparta who ruled from 480-459 BCE.

    Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of king Agis I and the other was required to be a descendant of king Eurypon (respectively known as the Agiadai and the Eurypontidai).

    Beginning with Leonidas I (the sixteenth Agiadai king who ruled from 490-480 BCE) the names and dates for the Spartan kings became a part of the historical record and are generally accepted as factual; prior to Leonidas I the dates for the Spartan kings are extrapolated back from historical times to approximate the time periods in which each king ruled.


    The eighteenth Agiadai king of the city of Sparta who ruled from 459-409 BCE.

    Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of king Agis I and the other was required to be a descendant of king Eurypon (respectively known as the Agiadai and the Eurypontidai).

    Beginning with Leonidas I (the sixteenth Agiadai king who ruled from 490-480 BCE) the names and dates for the Spartan kings became a part of the historical record and are generally accepted as factual; prior to Leonidas I the dates for the Spartan kings are extrapolated back from historical times to approximate the time periods in which each king ruled.


    Having full governmental powers; a title denoting an ambassador, diplomat or any representative of a government.

    This word is not really derived from the Greek but it is often used to describe the powers granted to usurpers and temporary tyrants in Greek history.


    A unit of measure; approximately 97 feet (30 meters).


    An Okeanid, i.e. one of the three thousand daughters of Okeanos (Ocean) and Tethys.

    Zeus gave the Okeanids, Apollon and the Rivers the special obligation of having the young in their keeping.

    Pliny the Elder

    Gaius Plinius Secundus; a Roman rhetorician and historian (23?-79 CE); his book Natural History discusses many ancient artists and the titles of their works; he died during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy.

    Pliny the Younger

    Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus; the nephew of Pliny the Elder (61?-113 CE); his contributions to Greek history are minimal but he, like his uncle, was a man of letters and learning.


    One of the fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris collectively known as the Nereids, i.e. the daughters of the Nereus; her name means Floating.


    An Okeanid, i.e. one of the three thousand daughters of Okeanos (Ocean) and Tethys.

    Zeus gave the Okeanids, Apollon and the Rivers the special obligation of having the young in their keeping.


    (46-120 CE) A Greek biographer who left us a treasure trove of information about great personalities of ancient Greece and Rome in his series of books, Plutarch’s Lives, which was written between 105-115 CE.

    Although he was removed from such historical figures as Perikles (Pericles) and Alexander the Great by hundreds of years, his insight as to their achievements and characters has credibility because he had access to documents that are now lost; he put his own opinions into perspective by declaring that relying on the accounts of contemporary sources “defiles and distorts the truth.”

    Plutus (1)

    The son of Demeter and Iasion; he is assumed to be an ancient personification of agricultural wealth.

    Plutus (2)

    A comic play by Aristophanes which was produced in 388 BCE; the name means Wealth.


    A hill in Athens near the Akropolis; a place of assembly for the people of ancient Athens.


    He and his brother, Makhaon (Machaon), were surgeons for the Greeks at the siege of the city of Troy; Podaleirios and Makhaon were the sons of the renowned healer, Asklepios (Asclepius).


    Famed sire of the immortal horses of Akhilleus (Achilles), Balios and Xanthos (Xanthus).


    One of the chariot horses of the Trojan hero, Hektor (Hector); his other horses were: Xanthos (Xanthus), Aithon and Lampos (Lampus).


    The son of Iphiklos (Iphiclos) and the brother of Protesilaus; when his brother was killed at the city of Troy, Podarkes took command of the soldiers from Thessaly.

    Poet and the Woman

    A comic play by Aristophanes produced in 411 BCE at the city of Athens; the title might be more properly rendered as Women Celebrating the Thesmophoria, i.e. Women’s Festival, which was held in honor of the goddess, Demeter.


    The father of Philoktetes (Philoctetes); either he or Philoktetes lit the funeral pyre for Herakles (Heracles) and took possession of Herakles’ bow.


    In ancient Athens, the role of polemarch was defined as that of a military commander until the strategi assumed that function and the polemarch became more of a ceremonial judicial post; in Sparta, a polemarch was akin to a modern military general; other districts and cities defined the role of the polemarch as that of a magistrate.


    A variation on the name for the goddess, Pallas Athene (Athena).


    A Greek city-state; usually defined by geographic boundaries such as rivers and mountains; a polis was generally not too large but still recognized as an independent state with its own laws and government.


    One of the sons of the last king of Troy, Priam.

    After Priam’s favorite son, Hektor (Hector), had been killed defending Troy, Priam berated his nine remaining sons for being wicked and worthless; Polites was one of these sons; whether the old king spoke in desperate sorrow or from his heart is impossible to tell.


    The queen of Korinth (Corinth) at the time when Oedipus was brought to the kingdom as an orphan; she and her husband, king Polybos, raised Oedipus as their son.

    Polybos (1)

    The king of Korinth (Corinth) at the time when Oedipus was brought to the kingdom as an orphan.

    Polybos and his wife, queen Polyboea, raised Oedipus as their son; Oedipus thought that Polybos was his natural father until he was faced with the reality of his situation, i.e. that he was adopted by Polybos and that he had accidentally killed his real father while traveling.

    When Oedipus was a young man, the oracle at Delphi proclaimed that he would kill his father so Oedipus fled Korinth to insure that Polybos would not die at his hands; years later, after Oedipus had been made king of the city of Thebes, a messenger brought him news that Polybos was dead; Oedipus then realized that his flight from Korinth was part of the oracle’s prophecy and that his adopted father, Polybos, had never been in danger of being killed by “his son.”

    Polybos (2)

    Polybos and his wife, Alkandre (Alcandre) gave Helen and Menelaos (Menelaus) many gifts when they stopped in the Egyptian city of Thebes, on their way home from Troy.

    Polydektes (1)

    The king of Seriphos who sent Perseus on the quest for the head of the Gorgon, Medusa.

    Polydektes lusted for Perseus’ mother, Danae, and thought that by sending Perseus on a suicidal mission he could possess Danae; as Polydektes became more and more emboldened, he threatened Danae with violence; when Perseus returned with the Gorgon’s head, he used the cursed head to turn Polydektes into stone.

    Polydektes (2)

    The third Eurypontidai king of the city of Sparta who ruled circa 835-805 BCE).

    Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of king Eurypon and the other was required to be a descendant of king Agis I (respectively known as the Eurypontidai and the Agiadai).

    Very little is known about Polydektes and the dates given for his rule are extrapolations and should be used only as approximations.

    Polydeuces or Pollux

    He and his brother, Kastor (Castor), were called the Dioskuri (Dioscuri); the twin sons of Zeus and Leda and the brothers of Helen, Klytemnestra (Clytemnestra) and Phoibe (Phoebe).

    In The Iliad (book 3, line 243) Kastor and Polydeukes were merely mortals but later stories gave the brothers a more supernatural countenance; as examples:

    1. When Helen was a young girl, she was kidnapped by Theseus; Kastor and Polydeukes saved her with the help of Akademus (Academus) or perhaps Dekelus (Decelus);
    2. While they were with the Argonauts, the two brothers became involved with the daughters of Leukippus (Leucippus), Hilaeira and Phoibe (Phoebe), and, for one reason or another, Kastor was killed; Polydeukes was supposedly immortal and did not want to live if his brother was dead; Zeus had mercy on the devoted brothers and allowed Kastor to return from the land of the dead on the condition that Polydeukes would take his place; that meant that the two brothers would alternately spend their days in the Underworld while the other would be free on the face of the earth; eventually they were introduced into the heavens as the constellation, Gemini, i.e. the Twins.

    An elaboration of the death of Kastor survives in the fragmentary remains of the Kypria; the author (not Homer) says that the two brothers were caught stealing the cattle of Idas and Lynkeus (Lynceus); Kastor was killed by Idas and then he and his brother, Lynkeus, were killed by Polydeukes; Zeus made Kastor and Polydeukes immortal with the condition that while one of them lived on the surface of the earth, the other would reside in the Underworld.

    Pollux is the Roman form of Polydeukes.

    Polydora (1)

    An Okeanid, i.e. one of the three thousand daughters of Okeanos (Ocean) and Tethys.

    Zeus gave the Okeanids, Apollon and the Rivers the special obligation of having the young in their keeping.

    Polydora (2)

    The daughter of Meleagros (Meleager) and the grand-daughter of Oineus.

    In the Kypria, which is part of the Epic Cycle, Polydora is said to be the wife of Protesilaus; in other versions of this story, Laodameia, a daughter of Akastos (Acastus) is said to be Protesilaus’ wife; Protesilaus was the first Greek soldier to be killed in the siege of the city of Troy; after his death, Protesilaus was allowed to return from the Underworld to visit Polydora but when he was forced to leave her, she committed suicide so she could be with him.

    Polydoros (1)

    The youngest son of Priam and Hekabe (Hecabe) who was killed at the siege of Troy by Akhilleus (Achilles).

    Polydoros (2)

    A first century BCE Greek sculptor who, with Agesander and Athenodorus, carved the sculpture known as the Laokoon (Laocoon) Group.

    Polydoros (3)

    The son of Hippomedon who, ten years after his father’s death at the city of Thebes, was one of the Epigoni who successfully captured the city.

    Polydoros (4)

    One of the sons of Kadmus (Cadmus) and Harmonia; the brother of Ino, Agaue, Autonoe and Semele.

    Polydoros (5)

    The ninth Agiadai king of the city of Sparta who ruled circa 700-665 BCE.

    Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of king Agis I and the other was required to be a descendant of king Eurypon (respectively known as the Agiadai and the Eurypontidai).

    Very little is known about Polydoros and the dates given for his rule are extrapolations and should be used only as approximations.


    (circa fifth or sixth century BCE) A painter; the son and student of Aglaophon of Thasos.


    He and his brother, Abas, were the sons of the dream interpreter, Old Eurydamas; both brothers were killed by Diomedes during the siege of the city of Troy.


    The youngest daughter of Nestor and Eurydike (Eurydice).


    One of the Thirty Tyrants elected to rule the city of Athens after the end of the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE).

    Having lost the war to the Spartans, the citizens of Athens elected thirty men to lead the new post-war government; these men became known as the Thirty Tyrants; the short lived government they comprised was an oligarchy.

    The tyrants immediately began to prosecute Athenians who had been Spartan informers and collaborators during the long, hard war; the punishment of the guilty seemed appropriate to the common citizens and aristocrats alike but it soon became clear that the executions and banishments were going beyond the bounds of necessity or prudence; open hostilities soon developed between members of the Thirty and their authority and rule came to an end after one year.


    A Greek sculptor; fl. 450-420 BCE; he worked mostly in bronze and was widely respected as one of the best sculptors of his age.

    His name may also be rendered as Polykleitos or Polycleitos.

    Polykrates (1)

    The tyrant of the island of Samos.

    Polykrates ruled Samos from 532 BCE until his death circa 515 BCE; he was a man of great ambition and skill; originally, he took control of the island and shared the governance with his two brothers, Pantagnotus and Syloson, but he had Pantagnotus killed and Syloson was banished.

    Polykrates amassed a large fleet of ships and assembled an army capable of dominating all who opposed him; from the island of Samos he was in an excellent strategic position to capture and defend the Aegean coast of Asia Minor as well as the islands of the Aegean Sea.

    There are several interesting stories relating to Polykrates in the Histories by Herodotus:

    Polykrates had cultivated a friendship with the king of Egypt, Amasis; the two monarchs had exchanged gifts and advice with one another because both men feared the ambitions of the Persian king, Kambyses (Cambyses); Amasis was concerned that Polykrates was too successful and a bit too proud so he advised him to take something that was very important to him and cast it away; Amasis explained that all lives must be checkered with happiness and sorrow and that unless Polykrates endured some degree of hardship his life would end in utter tragedy; Polykrates acted on Amasis’ advice and took his most prized possession, an emerald ring, and threw it into the sea; several days later, a fisherman brought Polykrates an extraordinary fish as a tribute; when the fish was cut open the emerald ring was inside; Polykrates took this as an omen from the gods that his good fortune would continue indefinitely; when he informed Amasis of the event, Amasis broke off all relations with Polykrates saying that the return of the ring was the worst possible omen and that Polykrates’ fate would be one of abject misery and sorrow; Polykrates did not appreciate Amasis’ advice and immediately tried to form an alliance with the Persian king, Kambyses.

    Kambyses was preparing to invade Egypt so Polykrates offered to assist the Persian king by giving Kambyses fifty warships; Polykrates manned the ships with dissidents so that he could earn the good will of the powerful and ambitious Kambyses and, at the same time, rid himself of any rebels who might want to threaten his power; Kambyses was not as good an ally as Polykrates might have imagined; Kambyses had insurmountable problems that threatened his empire; according to Herodotus, Kambyses was clearly a madman and could only be trusted to act irrationally and violently towards friend and foe alike.

    At this same time, the Spartans were preparing an attack on the island of Samos and Polykrates needed reliable friends who would help defend his growing empire; the Persian satrap of Sardis, Oroetes, devised a plan by which he could defeat Polykrates with nothing more than a messenger and a believable lie; Oroetes informed Polykrates that he was fearful of Kambyses and that he had the funds to make Polykrates the most powerful Greek tyrant who ever existed; Polykrates was intrigued but moved with caution; he sent a messenger to Oroetes to arrange further negotiations but Oroetes was too sly for the messenger; he filled chests with stones and then put a covering of gold coins on top; he showed the chests of gold to the hapless messenger who reported to Polykrates that Oroetes did indeed have immense wealth; Polykrates’ advisors and diviners were not as quick to trust Oroetes and cautioned him to not meet with the Persian; Polykrates’ daughter had a nightmare in which her father was lifted into the air, washed by Zeus and anointed by Helios (the Sun); Polykrates would not listen to any of their warnings and sailed off with a large entourage to meet his doom; Oroetes wasted no time, he took Polykrates and most of his company prisoner; Polykrates was murdered in a cruel way and then his body was crucified; Amasis’ warning and his daughters dream had come true; Polykrates had come to a bitter end; he was hung in the air to be washed by the rain of Zeus and was anointed by the touch of Helios.

    Polykrates (2)

    An Athenian military captain who was part of the mercenary army commanded by Xenophon in the service of the Persian prince, Kyrus (Cyrus).

    The unsuccessful attempt by Kyrus to take the Persian throne from his brother, Artaxerxes, and the subsequent retreat of the Greek mercenaries back to Greek territory is well documented in the history, Anabasis, by Xenophon.


    Sometimes thought to be the wife of Aeson and the mother of Iason (Jason).


    The daughter of Phylas and, with Hermes, the mother of the Greek soldier, Eudoros.

    When Hermes saw Polymele with the other maidens on the “dancing floor” of Artemis (goddess of the Hunt), he became infatuated with her; he crept secretly into her room and their union brought forth Eudoros.

    Polymele married Ekhekles and he and Polymele’s father, Phylas, both recognized the fact that Eudoros was the child of an Immortal but raised the boy as if he were their own flesh and blood.


    The king of Thrake (Thrace) who fought at the siege of the city of Troy.


    One of the nine Muses; her name means Of the Many Hymns.

    Her name may also be rendered as Polyhmnia.


    The youngest son of king Oedipus and Iokaste (Jocasta) of the city of Thebes.

    Oedipus was cursed to kill his father and marry his mother and the children of this profane union were also cursed; Polynikes was the son and brother of Oedipus.

    After his father blinded himself and went into exile Oedipus’ eldest son, Eteokles (Eteocles) took control of the government of Thebes; Polynikes was also exiled so he took refuge in Argos with king Adrastus and married Adrastus’ daughter, Argeia.

    Polynikes and six loyal friends formed armies and intended to reclaim the throne of Thebes; the seven armies were necessary because Thebes was known as the City of Seven Gates and thus one army would attack each gate; their effort was commonly known as the Seven Against Thebes.

    Before the attack, Polynikes went to his exiled father and begged for his blessing but Oedipus cursed Polynikes and predicted that Polynikes and his brother, Eteokles, would both die without honor in the battle for the city; the attack on Thebes failed and Eteokles and Polynikes both died on each other’s spear.

    After the battle, Polynikes’ uncle, Kreon (Creon), assumed the throne and gave Eteokles a noble burial but, as an act of petty revenge, refused to allow a proper burial for Polynikes; his body was left to the vultures and dogs until one of his sisters, Antigone, defied Kreon and covered her brother with a thin layer of dirt while his body still laid on the battlefield; his other sister was Ismene.

    His name might literally mean: Poly = Many; Neikea = Grievances and also spelled Polyneikes or Polyneices.


    Another name for Prokrustes (Procrustes); the legendary villain who would entice travelers with his hospitality and then bind them to his bed where he would then amputate or stretch them to fit the bed; he was finally beheaded by Theseus and forced to lie in his own bed.

    Apollodorus also refers to him as Damastes.

    Polyphemos (1)

    The Cyclopes son of Poseidon (lord of the Sea) and the nymph, Thoosa.

    After leaving the destroyed city of Troy, Odysseus and his twelve ships were blown off course to the country of the Cyclopes; they beached their ships in a natural harbor and when Dawn arrived, they feasted on goats that the nymphs had driven from the hills to the shore where the sailors had camped; Odysseus and his men could see the smoke from hearth fires but did not know who the inhabitants of the land might be.

    On the following day, Odysseus took his ship and ventured down the coast to seek out the natives; they came to a place where they could see a cave with goats and sheep in a fenced yard; in the distance they could see a monstrous man herding his flocks; Odysseus took twelve of his crewman and went ashore to investigate; Odysseus had the feeling that the monster-man would be wild and lawless so he took some food and a skin of very strong wine with him; they found the cave of the monster-man well stocked with cheese, milk and pens full of lambs and kids; Odysseus’ companions wanted to simply steal the food and make a hasty retreat back to their ship but Odysseus decided to wait for the monster-man to return and see if gifts of food would be offered without resorting to theft.

    When the Cyclopes, named Polyphemos, returned to the cave, he made such a ruckus that Odysseus and the twelve sailors retreated into the shadows and hid; they watched as the one eyed man separated the males and females and herded the females into the cave; he then rolled a giant stone in front of the cave entrance and began to milk the sheep and goats; when he finished his chores, the Cyclopes lit a fire and finally saw Odysseus and the other men hiding in the recesses of the cave; he asked if they were pirates or traveling on business; Odysseus, in his most eloquent style, told the Cyclopes of their plight and asked for the hospitality that any god fearing man (or monster-man) would provide; the Cyclopes said that he was better than the gods and would offer no hospitality.

    At that moment, Polyphemos snatched up two of the sailors and dashed them on the floor, spilling their blood and brains, and proceeded to eat them; Odysseus and the other men helplessly cried out to Zeus for mercy but Polyphemos was oblivious to their lamentations and laid down to sleep; Odysseus thought of pulling his sword and attacking Polyphemos but then realized that if the Cyclopes died, the trapped sailors could not move the giant stone that sealed the cave; Odysseus waited for Dawn and an hoped for an opportunity to escape certain death.

    When Polyphemos awoke he went about his morning chores and, when he had finished milking his goats and sheep, killed and ate two more of Odysseus’ men; he then moved the giant stone at the entrance of the cave and went outside to tend his flocks; Polyphemos replaced the stone trapping Odysseus and the eight surviving men inside the cave; Odysseus began to devise a plan of escape; he took a large tree trunk that was in the cave and sharpened one end and hardened the point with fire; the sailors drew lots and four men were chosen to help Odysseus wield the tree sized spear when the proper time came to attack Polyphemos.

    When Polyphemos returned to the cave, he brought his entire flock, males and females, inside for the night; he tended to his milking chores and then effortlessly killed and ate two more sailors; Odysseus boldly filled a bowl with the very potent wine he had brought along and offered it to Polyphemos; the Cyclopes took the wine and drank it down; the wine had been a gift to Odysseus and was so strong that it had to be watered down with twenty portions of water in order to make it suitable for any civilized man to drink; Polyphemos explained that Cyclopes made wine but the wine Odysseus had given him was surely made where nektar and ambrosia flow in abundance; he asked for more wine and, after three bowls, tried to engage Odysseus in conversation; he asked Odysseus what his name was and promised to give him a guest-gift in exchange for the wine; Odysseus cleverly said that his name was Nobody (Ουτις); Polyphemos said that he would eat Nobody after he had eaten the other men and that would be his guest-gift.

    Polyphemos then passed out from the wine and vomited bile and meat on the cave floor; Odysseus and his men heated the point of the tree they had sharpened and poised it in front of Polyphemos’ eye; as the men pushed the searing point of the tree into Polyphemos’ eye, Odysseus used his weight to spin the giant spear so that it would penetrate as deeply as possible; Polyphemos awoke with a scream and pulled the deeply imbedded point from his ruined eye; his cries drew the attention of the neighboring Cyclopes and they converged at the cave entrance and asked why Polyphemos was screaming in the night; “Nobody is trying to kill me,” Polyphemos answered; the other Cyclopes returned to their homes thinking that Polyphemos was suffering from madness; they urged him to call upon his father, Poseidon, for help.

    Odysseus then had the six remaining men tie three rams abreast and then strapped each man to the belly of the center animal; he chose the largest ram in the flock for himself and hid beneath it in a similar manner; when Dawn arrived, Polyphemos opened the cave entrance and carefully felt the backs of all the sheep as they went outside; the men under the tethered sheep were safely outside when the ram carrying Odysseus came to the entrance; Polyphemos recognized the ram by its thick, luxurious fleece and wondered why the noble beast was the last to leave the cave; Polyphemos assumed that the ram was mourning the injury to its master’s eye and Polyphemos assured the ram that he was going to kill and eat Nobody for the foul deed.

    When Odysseus was a safe distance from the cave, he untied the other men and proceeded to drive Polyphemos’ flock to the ship; Odysseus signaled the men to quietly load the animals on board so that Polyphemos and the other Cyclopes would not hear them; when the ship was a little distance from the shore, Odysseus could not contain his pride and anger, he called out to Polyphemos and said that the wrath of the gods had been justly administered and that good men had been the instrument of divine retribution; Polyphemos lifted a stone the size of a mountain peak and blindly threw it at the ship; the stone grazed the ship and the wave it created pushed the ship back to the shore; the men rowed frantically to get the ship back to the open water before Polyphemos could hurl another bolder; when they were twice the previous distance from the shore, Odysseus again wanted to taunt the blinded Cyclopes; the other sailors tried to restrain Odysseus but his proud heart would not be silent; he shouted to Polyphemos that he was Odysseus, the sacker of cities from the island of Ithaka (Ithaca), and that he should have killed the evil Cyclopes instead of just blinding him.

    Polyphemos then realized that his blinding had been foretold by a prophet; he had always been on the lookout for a man named Odysseus but he had been tricked by clever words and missed the prophetic signs; Polyphemos raised his arms to heaven and called upon his father to bring down his vengeance on Odysseus, to kill all his men, to bring turmoil to his household and to delay his homecoming for many years; Poseidon heard his son’s plea and made it all come to pass.

    Polyphemos (2)

    One of the Argonauts from Larissa; the son of Eilatos.

    Plataea to Polyphemos

    P to Peitho Pelasgians to Phaedrias Phaeo to Pitys Plataea to Polyphemos 2 Polyxena to Pyxis 2


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