The Cyclops, or the "Cyclopes" (plural), are a member of a primordial race of giants, each with a single eye in the middle of its forehead. The plural is cyclopes (pronounced IPA: /saɪˈkloʊpiːz/) or kyklopes (Greek Κύκλωπες). In English, the plural cyclopses is also used. The nakme means "round-" or "wheel-eyed".
They are characters of Greek Mythology. The first group of Cyclopes are Brontes, Steropes and Arges. Their children are Euryalos, Elatreus, Trachios and Halimedes. The younger Cyclopes are the sons of Poseidon, who feature in the Odyssey.
Literature and other accounts
Greek and Roman writers like Hesiod describe the Cyclops as been a group or family of three brothers who were primordial members of the giants. Writers like Homer describe the Cyclopes as living on a distant island ruled by the cyclops Polyphemus who was one of the sons of Poseidon.
The poet Callimachus states on one of his hymns that the Cyclopes helped Hephaestus at his forge. The Cyclopes were said to be responsible for the cyclopean fortifications at Tiryns and Mycenae in the Peloponnese. According to the hymn, the noises proceeding from the heart of volcanoes were attributed to the Cyclopes' activities.
HesiodAccording to Hesiod and as he states in his Theogony, the known cyclops were Brontes, Steropes and Arges, and their names meant thunderer, lightning and bright respectively. This cyclopes were the primordial sons of Uranus and Gaia and were the brothers of the Hecatonchires, making them brothers to the Titans and akin to the Olympian and later Gods and other creatures. According to Hesiod, they were strong, stubborn, and "abrupt of emotion". Time passed and eventually they became synonyms for brute strength and power, and they were often pictured at their forge.
Because of their showcasing of power, Uranus feared the Cyclops and imprisoned them on Tartaros. They, along with the Hecatonchieres, supported Cronus in his coup d'etat overthrow Uranus but instead of freeing the Cyclopes and the Hecatonchires, he kept them is Tartaros. They remained there, guarded by the dragon Campe, until they and the Hecatonchires, were freed once and for all by their nephews, Zeus, Poseidon and Hades. In gratitude, they aided the three brothers and fashioned Zeus' thunderbolts, Poseidon's trident and Hades' helmet of invisibility. To create Zeus' thunderbolt, Arges added the brightness, Brontes added the thunder and Steropes the lightning. The Cyclopes aided Zeus in his battle against the Titans and with their help, Zeus finally deposed Cronus, just as Cronus did to his own father Uranus. The thunderbolt became Zeus' trademark weapon and symbol.
These three Cyclopes described my Hesiod were the ones who worked as blacksmith alongside Hephaestus and aided him in the creation of various if not all the godly weapons. Among their creations we have:
- Poseidon's Trident
- Aegis breastplate
- Helios' Chariot
- Artemis 's bow and arrows of moonlight
- Apollo 's bow and arrows of sun rays
- Hermes' Helmet of darkness, also known as helmet of invisibility and sandals
According to the tragedy titled Alcestis by Euripides, Apollo killed the Cyclopes, in retaliation for Asclepius's murder at the hands of Zeus. After the murder, Apollo was forced into the servitude of King Admetus of Pherae for one year. Zeus later returned Asclepius and the Cyclopes from the Underworld.
According to Homer's The Oddysey (The Illiad), the Cyclopes live on a remote island, island which was found by Odysseus and his crew after they escape the Trojan war. The Cyclops Polyphemus was encountered by Odysseus and his crew, and instead of helping them, he ate and killed various members of the crew and trapped the rest in his cave. When Polyphemus slept, Odysseus blinded him with a wood stick in retaliation of what he did.
The Sicilian Greek poet Theocritus wrote two poems circa 275 BC concerning Polyphemus' desire for Galatea, a sea nymph. When Galatea instead married Acis, a Sicilian mortal, a jealous Polyphemus killed him with a boulder. Galatea turned Acis' blood into a river of the same name in Sicily.
The epic Roman poet Virgil, wrote, in book three of The Aeneid how Aeneas and his crew landed on the island of the cyclops after escaping from Troy at the end of the Trojan War. Aeneas and his crew land on the island, when they are approached by a desperate Greek man from Ithaca, Achaemenides, who was stranded on the island a few years previously with Odysseus' expedition (as depicted in The Odyssey/The Illiad by Homer). Virgil's accounts acts as a sequel to Homer's The Odyssey, with the fate of Polyphemus as a blind cyclops after the escape of Odysseus and his crew.
Philippine folkloreIn Philippine folklore exist one-eyed giants which are not called Cyclops, instead these creatures are known as Bungisngis. The Bungisngis are often portrayed with mustache-like formations on their faces.
In Popular Culture
- The Cyclopes appear in the 2012 film Wrath of the Titans. When Perseus arrives at the Island of Kali (Island of Hephaestus), he confronts three Cyclopes (just like the ones described by Hesiod in his Theogony). This Cyclopes guide Perseus to Hephaestus forge. Hephaestus tells Perseus and his comrades, that the Cyclopes aided him in creating the god weapons: Zeus' thunderbolt, Poseidon's trident and Hades' pitchfork.
- Two giant cyclopes with rock-like skin appear in Clash of the Titans: The Videogame.
- Various classes of Cyclopes appear througout the God of War video game series.
- In God of War: Chains of Olympus, during the Siege of Attica, Cyclopes were enslaved by the Persian King. The king used them to attack Attica, along with the Basilisk. The Cyclopes appear later in the game, Kratos fought many of them in Underworld.
- In God of War (first game), the Cyclopes work as shock troops for Ares. Also some Cyclopes are seeing guarding Pandora's temple. This is the only game of the series in which Kratos can't rip the Cyclopes eye.
- Cycloptic tiny four-legged creatures resembbling a Cyclops skull appear in the original Kid Icarus video game. In the game the creatures are called Ganewmede.
- The Cyclops is one of the many creatures Orpheus must face in the side-scrolling video game The Battle of Olympus.
|Greek mythology articles|
|Deities||Zeus • Poseidon • Apollo • Athena • Aphrodite • Ares • Artemis • Hermes • Dionysus • Hera • Hephaestus|
|Heroes||Abderus • Bellerophon • Daedalus • Diomedes • Achilles • Cadmus • Heracles •Perseus • Odysseus • Orpheus • Theseus • Jason • Argonauts|
|Groups||Demigod • God • Titans • Graeae • Gorgons • Protogenoi|
|Creatures and monsters||Chimera • Centaur • Charybdis • Cyclops • Ceryneian Hind • Cretan Bull • Empusa • Erinyes • Erymanthian Boar • Minotaur • Typhon • Medusa • Makhai • Hydra • Pegasus • More...|
|Titans||Atlas • Coeus • Crius • Cronus • Epimetheus • Gaia • Helios • Iapetos • Pallas • Perses • Prometheus • Oceanus • Hyperion • Rhea • Styx|
|Topics||Titanomachy • Overthrowing of Ouranus|