An Unlikely Story: Polyphemus and Galatea

You know Polyphemus mostly as the cyclops blinded by Odysseus. But did you know that in some variants of the myth he was also an anguished lover of the sea nymph Galatea? Well now you do. In Ovid's version, Galatea is in love with a young man named Acis, who is then killed by Polyphemus in a jealous rage. So Galatea turns Acis into a river -- because transforming your dead beloved into a river/tree/flower/rock is the mythological equivalent of the modern post-breakup pint of Haagen-Dazs. It's just the thing you do, and then you move on.

However, there is a frieze found in Pompeii that suggests Polyphemus was a more successful lover than Ovid allows him to be.

The back cover copy might read:

Cursed by mankind as a monster, one-eyed Polyphemus broods on the coastline and shuns society in favor of the solace of nature. His only companions are the animals he raises for wool and food -- until he meets Galatea.

The sea nymph's beauty and warmth awaken a powerful longing. But she only has eyes for the handsome and superficial Acis. Can the rugged cyclops shed his rough habits enough to charm his beloved?