Odysseus and Polyphemus, Arnold Bockling. Polyphemus is one of the only Cyclopes recognized by name.

Is There Any Truth to the Existence and Damning Character Assassinations of Mighty Legendary Cyclopes?


The mysterious, one-eyed creatures revered in Greek and Roman mythologies remain one of the most interesting creatures spoken of in the oldest Mediterranean legends. They were members of the race of giants, whose roots come from the most bygone times in the history of the world.

Although most Cyclopes remain anonymous, the ancient sources describe a cyclops named Polyphemus. He lived on an island which is believed to be Sicily. This island was populated by the Cyclopes and other creatures. The name ''cyclops'' means ''circle-eyed'' or ''round-eyed''. Their genesis seems to be more complicated than the myths which described them. Searching for any real origins of Cyclopes, and possible evidence of their existence out of ancient books, is one of the greatest challenges related to mythology.

Polyphemus, Johann Tischbein. (1802)

Polyphemus, Johann Tischbein. (1802) (Public Domain) Polyphemus is one of the only Cyclopes recognized by name.

Ancient Tales About Cyclopes

There is no convincing evidence supporting the myths about Cyclopes. However, the stories by famous ancient writers created a legend that blew the minds of generations of people who lived in the Mediterranean area. The imagination of these individuals embellished the literature, making it one of the world’s most famous tales.

Two prominent descriptions of the Cyclopes come from Hesiod and Homer. The portrayal that came from their writings affected later texts. Hesiod wrote ‘Theogony’ between the 8th and the 7th centuries BC. According to the translation by Evelyn White, the ancient Greek writer wrote:

"And again, she [Gaia (Gaea) the Earth] bare [to Ouranos (Uranus) the Sky] the Kyklopes (Cyclopes), overbearing in spirit, Brontes, and Steropes and stubborn-hearted Arges, who gave Zeus the thunder and made the thunderbolt: in all else they were like the gods, but one eye only was set in the midst of their foreheads. And they were surnamed Kyklopes (Orb-eyed) because one orbed eye was set in their foreheads. Strength and might and craft were in their works. And again, three other sons [the Hekatonkheires (Hecatoncheires) were born of Gaia (Earth) and Ouranos (Sky) . . . 
For of all the children that were born of Gaia and Ouranos, these [the Hekatonkheires and Kyklopes] were the most terrible, and they were hated by their own father from the first [i.e. Father Sky hates the Storm-Giants]. And he used to hide them all away in a secret place of Gaia (Earth) so soon as each was born, and would not suffer them to come up into the light: and Ouranos rejoiced in his evil doing.''

The Cyclops, Odilon Redon, circa 1914.

The Cyclops, Odilon Redon, circa 1914. (Public Domain) Hesiod wrote that the Cyclopes were hated by their father, so he hid them away.

Thin Evidence from Homer on a Cyclops

In one of the chapters of ‘The Odyssey’ by Homer, the legendary Odysseus met the cyclops named Polyphemus. It is significant that Homer didn't write explicitly that Polyphemus only had a single eye. However, some specialists in Homeric writings suggested that this fact was implied in the text. According to them, it was mentioned when Homer wrote ''his eye'' instead of ''his eyes''.

Odysseus and his crew are blinding the most famous of the Cyclopes, Polyphemus. Detail of a Proto-Attic amphora, circa 650 BC. Eleusis, Archaeological Museum.

Odysseus and his crew are blinding the most famous of the Cyclopes, Polyphemus. Detail of a Proto-Attic amphora, circa 650 BC. Eleusis, Archaeological Museum. (Napoleon Vier/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Other authors also wrote about the Cyclopes. For example, Greek author Callimachus mentioned the Cyclopes as the beings who created the fortifications at Mycenae and Tiryns. Around 275 BC, a Sicilian poet named Theocritus wrote two poems related to the story of Polyphemus and his desire for the sea nymph called Galatea. The poet described a plan by the cyclops to possess her.

The famous Greek writer Euripides wrote the play titled ‘Cyclops’ in 408 BC. The plot takes place on Sicily, very close to the famous volcano Mount Etna. Virgil, who was a Roman epic poet, as famous as Homer is in Greek literature, wrote the classic book, ‘The Aeneid’, where he included the story of how, after the escaping from Troy, Aeneas landed on the island of a cyclops. The book by Virgil is very similar to ‘The Odyssey,’ and the story of this cyclops encounter is the same as that of Polyphemus.

Odysseus in the Cave of Polyphemus, Jacob Jordaens.

Odysseus in the Cave of Polyphemus, Jacob Jordaens. (Public Domain)

The Origins of Cyclopes

The origins of the mysterious Cyclopes are fascinating. According to paleontologist Othenio Abel, the roots of Cyclopes lie in the prehistoric skulls of dwarf elephants. The animals lived on islands such as Sicily, Malta, Crete, and Cyprus. According to research from 1914, the large nasal cavities of these skulls made people think that they belonged to one-eyed creatures. For centuries, people were unable to designate the real origins of the skulls, so the myth about Cyclopes grew.

Dwarf Elephant with large nasal cavities Syracuse, Italy – Museo archeologico regionale Paolo Orsi.

Dwarf Elephant with large nasal cavities Syracuse, Italy – Museo archeologico regionale Paolo Orsi. (Giovanni Dall'Orto)

Another idea was created by Walter Burkert, a German scholar of cults and mythology. He suggested archaic societies mirror real cult associations, like smith guilds. He believed that the idea of strong one-eyed creatures comes from the blacksmiths’ tradition of wearing an eye-patch on one eye. However, he notes that the Cyclopes from ‘The Odyssey’ are described somewhat differently to those in the book by Hesiod. Those described in Theogony are not related to the blacksmith cult, but Burkert believed that there is an explanation for this anomaly. He suggested that is it likely that Polyphemus was initially considered a local demon, and Homer was the one who made Polyphemus a Cyclops. Finally, some researchers believe that Cyclopes were simply deformed human beings.

The Cyclopes Were Legendary Builders

For centuries, people believed that Cyclopes made the monumental walls of cities and other impressive buildings. Their fame as the architects of many impressive buildings endured. For example, the story of the walls of Mycenae is impossible to break from old legends about Cyclopes.

Whether there are grains of truth to the Cyclopes story and they are based on some creature that once existed is currently unsubstantiated. However, Cyclopes continue to be a fascinating part of ancient traditional folklore. Sadly, unlike many of the other characters from mythological stories, their complicated image makes them difficult to be used as a main character in modern writings.

Top Image: Odysseus and Polyphemus, Arnold Böcklin. Polyphemus is one of the only Cyclopes recognized by name. Source: Public Domain

By Natalia Klimczak

References:

J.N. Bremmer, ‘Odysseus versus the Cyclops’, in Myth and Symbol, 1987.

Greek Mythology (2017) ‘Cyclopes,’ available at: http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Creatures/Cyclopes/cyclopes.html

Theoi Project (2017) ‘Kyklopes,’ available at: http://www.theoi.com/Titan/Kyklopes.html

Greek Gods and Godesses (2017) ‘Cyclopes,’ available at:  https://greekgodsandgoddesses.net/myths/cyclopes/

Comments

This article makes you think the cyclopes are mysterious myths. The Fact is they were real people. And as always the Bible gives the answer. The cyclopes were giants which were the result of being offspring by Fallen Angeles. Numbers 13:33 and Deuteronomy 3:11. They were very evil. They were hybrids with odd physical characteristics, and supernatural powers. The Israelites were instructed to kill them all off but they didn't. They were of the Hamite lineage of Canaanites, later becoming the Egyptians, Arabs, and Esau's descendants who want to destroy Israel today, Their descendants the seed of the Serpent mixed with the Ashkenazi Jews are with us today and are behind the orchestration of the New World Order called the Learned Elders of Zion or Scottish Rite of Freemasonry the Knights Templar Illuminati. Some are psychics and Illuminati behind the Liberal Conspiracy with AB negative blood type.
They did not have one eye. This is a reference to the third eye in the forehead which means they have psychic powers from their Demonic parents. They were the builders of the megalithic structures world wide about 2000 BC. They were scattered from Babel in Mesopotamia. Gaia (Gaea) the Earth Mother goddess bare to Ouranos (Uranus) the Sky god, is a reference to Nimrod and Semiramis of Babel. Semiramis bore Tammuz which she claimed was a reincarnation of Nimrod. Semiramis was a willing UFO abuuctee. This Nephilim lineage is the bloodline of the future Antichrist through the royal linage of the French Merovingian kings and queens of the tribe of Manasseh. For more details read my books.

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

Concept art of Queen Anne’s Revenge, based on the Pirates of the Caribbean prop for ‘The Black Pearl’
History records Blackbeard as one of the most notorious pirates; but his early years weren’t as infamous or inglorious. Edward Teach, the man who would later become the pirate known as Blackbeard, had a relatively normal childhood. His criminal lifestyle that brought him fame later in life wasn’t fueled by exposure to a sketchy upbringing.

Myths & Legends

A vase-scene from about 410 BC. Nimrod/Herakles, wearing his fearsome lion skin headdress, spins Noah/Nereus around and looks him straight in the eye. Noah gets the message and grimaces, grasping his scepter, a symbol of his rule - soon to be displaced in the post-Flood world by Nimrod/Herakles, whose visage reveals a stern smirk.
The Book of Genesis describes human history. Ancient Greek religious art depicts human history. While their viewpoints are opposite, the recounted events and characters match each other in convincing detail. This brief article focuses on how Greek religious art portrayed Noah, and how it portrayed Nimrod in his successful rebellion against Noah’s authority.

Human Origins

Cro-Magnon man communicating with each other and producing cave drawings
How human language began has been a question pestering researchers for centuries. One of the biggest issues with this topic is that empirical evidence is still lacking despite our great advances in...

Ancient Technology

The School of Athens
Much of modern science was known in ancient times. Robots and computers were a reality long before the 1940´s. The early Bronze Age inhabitants of the Levant used computers in stone, the Greeks in the 2nd century BC invented an analogue computer known as the Antikythera mechanism. An ancient Hindu book gives detailed instructions for the construction of an aircraft –ages before the Wright brothers. Where did such knowledge come from?

Ancient Places

Artist’s representation of the sealed door of Vault B at Padmanabhaswamy Temple.
Ropes of gold several meters long, Napoleonic coins, Venetian jewelry, diamond belts, emeralds the size of ostrich eggs, and barrels of golden rice…these are just some of the treasures said to have been hidden within Padmanabhaswamy Temple. But insufferable dangers may also be lurking for those who dare to open the temple’s mysterious sealed door. Would you take the risk?

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article