Now drunk, the Cyclops topples to the floor, sound asleep. In the meantime, Odysseus and his men had prepared a stake, which they drill into the giant's eye. Polyphemus, roaring with pain, wrenches the spike from his eye and shouts for help from his neighbor Cyclops. His neighbors, awoken in the night, gather around the cave's mouth. What's the trouble, they ask. "Nobody is trying to kill me," Polyphemus bellows.
"If you're alone," his friends boom back, "and nobody's trying to overpower you now—look, it must be a plague sent by mighty Zeus and there's no escape from that." They lumber off.
I was reminded of this story when I spotted the street sign shown below: No Name Street.
The sign is in the town of Millersburg, Ohio, and you can find this short street marked on Google maps. I don't know its history, but the sign is a neat reminder of the kinds of semantic paradoxes that can arise, in this case because of a collision between the literal meaning of the words (the absence of a name) and the purpose for which the words are used (as a designation for a street).
Fagles, R., trans. 1996. Homer: The Odyssey. Penguin.
Photo by I. Peterson