1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cyclopes

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CYCLOPES (Κύκλωπες, the round-eyed, plural of Cyclops), a type of beings variously described in Greek mythology. In Homer they are gigantic cave-dwellers, cannibals having only one eye, living a pastoral life in the far west (Sicily), ignorant of law and order, fearing neither gods nor men. The most prominent among them was Polyphemus. In Hesiod (Theogony, 264) they are the three sons of Uranus and Gaea—Brontes, Steropes and Arges,—storm-gods belonging to the family of the Titans, who furnished Zeus with thunder and lightning out of gratitude for his having released them from Tartarus. They were slain by Apollo for having forged the thunderbolt with which Zeus slew Asclepius. Later legend transferred their abode to Mt Aetna, the Lipari islands or Lemnos, where they assisted Hephaestus at his forge. A third class of Cyclopes are the builders of the so-called “Cyclopean” walls of Mycenae and Tiryns, giants with arms in their belly, who were said to have been brought by Proetus from Lycia to Argos, his original home (Pausanias ii. 16. 5; 25. 8). Like the Curetes and Telchines they are mythical types of prehistoric workmen and architects, and as such the objects of worship.

The standard work on these and similar mythological characters is M. Mayer, Die Giganten und Titanen (1887); see also A. Boltz, Die Kyklopen (1885), who endeavours to show that they were an historical people; W. Mannhardt, Wald- und Feldkulte (1904); J. E. Harrison, Myths of the Odyssey (1882); and article in Roscher’s Lexikon der Mythologie (bibliography).