The Art Archive/Dagli Orti

In this mosaic from the Villa Romana del Casale (compare with photo of Villa Romana), near the Sicilian town of Piazza Armerina, Odysseus tempts his captor, the Cyclops Polyphemus, with a chalice of wine—a scene from Book 9 of Homer’s Odyssey. (Once the monster is drunk, Odysseus and his men blind him and escape in their ships.) This Cyclops, however, has three eyes rather than the customary one. Despite the disemboweled ram splayed upon his lap, the third eye somehow makes the hulking Polyphemus seem less menacing; he appears almost contemplative, even a bit confused.