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13 Facts About the Cyclopes

The primordial race of giants born with a single eye in the center of their forehead has appeared in both ancient Greek and Roman mythology. However, the name is still a recognizable term, including finding a place in modern-day medicine , cyclopia , a birth defect characterized by a single enlarged eye and other facial abnormalities. However, this article focuses on the Cyclops of ancient Greek myths.

1.    The Cyclopes are the primordial sons of Uranus (the Sky Father) and Gaia (Mother Earth).

2.    The description of the Cyclopes differs from one ancient poet and writers to another. Hesiod, Homer, Virgil, and others have mentioned the Cyclopes in their storytelling and writings.

3.    Hesiod mentions in his epic poem Theogony that Zeus releases the Cyclopes from Tartarus. In return, they give Zeus his infamous thunderbolt, Poseidon his trident, the helmet of invisibility to Hades. With these weapons, they are able to defeat the Titans. Hesiod describes the Cyclopes as three brothers who were primordial giants.

4.    One of the Cyclopes is mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey. The hero of the tale, Odysseus, meets up Polyphemus , the son of Poseidon and a nereid named Thoosa.

5.    Hesiod mentions the Cyclopes as brothers named Arges, Brontes, and Steropes. They each had one eye in the middle of their forehead. They were also noted to have a poor disposition. According to Hesiod, the Cyclopes were strong, stubborn, and  “abrupt of emotion”.

6.    The Cyclopes were locked in Tartarus because Uranus was fearful of their strength. Tartarus was described as a deep gloomy place, pit or abyss that was located beneath the Underworld.

7.    Cronus later freed the Cyclopes after he had overthrown their father Uranus. However, he later returned them to Tartarus and had a female dragon named Campe watch over them. All of this was before Zeus freed them again.

8.    The thunderbolts that Zeus became known for was forged by all three of the Cyclopes. Arges was responsible for its brightness, Brontes added thunder, and Steropes, who gave Zeus the power of lightning.

9.    The Cyclopes gave Artemis her bows and arrows of moonlight, while Apollo received the bow and arrows of the sun’s rays.

10.    The helmet that the Cyclopes gave Hades was given to Perseus during his quest to kill Medusa , the woman with the head of snakes that could turn someone to stone with her glance.  

11.    Theocritus spoke of the Cyclops Polyphemus, who was in love with a sea nymph named Galatea, in two of his poems written around 275 BC. Galatea wound up taking a mortal named Acis as her husband. This made Polyphemus quite jealous and as a result, killed Acis with a boulder. A mourning Galatea turned Acis’ blood into a river in Sicily named after him.

12.    Virgil was a Roman epic poet who mentioned the Cyclops in the third book of The Aeneid. He wrote of how Aeneas and his crew landed on the island of the Cyclopes after they escaped Troy at the end of the Trojan War. It is here that the crew encounters a Greek man who had been stranded on the island years before they landed.

13.    There is a fable that says the Cyclops made a deal with Hades, which centered on trading an eye for the ability to see the future. Hades consented to removing an eye and allowed the Cyclops to be able to foretell the day of their death.