Composers and their stage works 

The Cyclops

(Kyklops; Cyclops, ca. 423 B.C.).


The only complete satyr play in existence.


In their search for their god Dionysus, the satyr Silenus and his children, who constitute the chorus, have landed near Mount Etna in Sicily, where they have been captured and enslaved as shepherds by the Cyclops Polyphemus, one of a tribe of cannibalistic one-eyed giants. As the play opens, the satyrs pray for assistance from their god. Silenus is bewailing their plight when he is met by the Greek warrior Odysseus and his men, who are in need of food and water. On seeing the satyrs, they think that they have come to the home of Dionysus, but Silenus quickly informs them that they are in the land of the Cyclopes. Odysseus gives Silenus wine in exchange for cheese and milk, but Silenus accuses him of theft as soon as Polyphemus appears on the scene. The Cyclops decides to eat Odysseus and his men and forces them to enter his cave. Cries are heard within. Odysseus comes out and describes in macabre detail the cooking and eating of his comrades. But he has contrived a plan of escape and puts it immediately into action. He plies Polyphemus with large quantities of heady wine and makes him drunk. The Cyclops goes into the cave with Silenus and Odysseus blinds him by driving a burning stake into his only eye. As the sightless giant rages, the Greeks and the satyrs slip past him and escape to the ship, while he prophesies that Odysseus will wander over the seas for many years before his return to Ithaca.