The Cyclops (Ancient Greek: Κύκλωψ (Kúklōps), meaning "Round-Eyed" or "Wheel-Eyed"), is a member of a primordial race of humanoid giants with a single eye in the middle of its forehead. In English, the plural cyclopses are also used.
They are characters of Greek mythology. The first group of Cyclopes is Brontes, Steropes, and Arges. Their children are Euryalos, Elatreus, Trachios, and Halimedes. The Elder Cyclopes were the children of Gaia and Ouranós where they later made Zeus' Master Thunderbolt, Poseidon's Trident, and Hades' Helm of Darkness during the Titanomachy. The younger Cyclopes are the sons of Poseidon, who are featured in the Odyssey.
Myths & Legends
Greek and Roman writers like Hesiod, describe the Cyclops has 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.
Cyclopes in general are known for their stubbornness, size, and great strength. Especially in the Odyssey, Cyclopes are not considered particularly bright and may be fairly easy to deceive.
The Cyclopes are large, one-eyed humanoids. They are also compared to giants due to their huge size. A Cyclops is probably about 15 to 30 feet tall.
In mythology, Cyclopes are often depicted as inhumanly large, tall and having a disproportionately large head, one eye in the middle of his forehead, abundant hair, unusually colored skin, a voracious appetite, and a strong body. Cyclopes are closely linked with giants and with human cannibals in mythology.
According to Hesiod and as he states in his Theogony, the known original cyclops were Brontes, Steropes, and Arges, and their names meant thunderer, lightning and bright respectively. This cyclopes were the primordial sons of Ouranós 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.
Imprisonment and Freedom
Because of their showcasing of power, Ouranós feared the Cyclops and imprisoned them on Tartaros. They, along with the Hecatonchieres, supported Cronus in his coup d'etat overthrow Ouranós but instead of freeing the Cyclopes and the Hecatonchires, he kept them in 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 in battle against Cronus and the Titans, and fashioned Zeus' Lightning Bolt, Poseidon's Trident and Hades' Helm of Darkness. To create Zeus' lightning bolt, Arges added the brightness, Brontes added the thunder and Steropes the lightning.
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 also attributed to the Cyclopes' activities.
Death of Asclepius
According to the tragedy titled Alcestis by Euripides, after Asclepius was murdered by Zeus Apollo killed the Cyclopes in retaliation. Zeus later returned Asclepius and the Cyclopes from the Underworld.
In Homer's The Odyssey, the Cyclopes live on a remote island, but rather than being helpful to the sailors, they try to kill and eat Odysseus and his crew. In retaliation, Odysseus blinded Polyphemus, one of the cyclops.
Later, the poet Virgil wrote about Aeneas and his crew landed on the island of the cyclops after escaping from Troy at the end of the Trojan War. There they found Achaemenides, a crew member from Odysseus' expedition who was stranded on the island a few years previously, and the now blind Polyphemus.