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Cyclopes


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Are one‐eyed giants. In Homer they are savage and pastoral, and live in a distant country without government or laws. Odysseus visits them in his wanderings and enters the cave of one of them, Polyphēmus, who imprisons him and his men and eats two of them raw, morning and evening, until they escape by blinding him while he is in a drunken sleep, and getting out among the sheep and goats when he opens the cave in the morning. Polyphemus is the son of Poseidon, and the god, in answer to his prayer for vengeance, opposes the homecoming of Odysseus in every possible way, bringing to pass the curse that he may return alone and find trouble when he arrives. The blinding is a popular theme of early vase‐painting. Elsewhere we find an amorous Polyphemus, who lives in Sicily and somewhat ludicrously woos the nymph Galatea, who prefers Acis.

But in Hesiod the Cyclopes are three, Brontes, Steropes, and Arges (Thunderer, Lightener, Bright). They are divine craftsmen who make Zeus his thunderbolt in gratitude for their release from imprisonment by their father Uranus (Heaven; their mother is Earth). They often appear as Hephaestus' workmen, and often again are credited with making ancient fortifications, as those of Tiryns.

Subjects: Religion — Classical Studies.


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