This material is based upon G. S. Kirk's Myth. Its Meaning and Functions in Ancient and Other Cultures. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1970.

Three Kinds of Cyclopes

1.) Builders of the cyclopean walls at Mycenae

2.) Polyphemus and his companions in the Odyssey

3.) Divine beings who make Zeus' thunderbolts and lightning in Hesiod's Theogony. Their sons are killed by Apollo in retaliation for the death of Ascelpius (Euripides' Alcestis).

All are one- or circle-eyed giants.

Later pastoral Polyphemus and his love for nymph Galatea in Ovid's Metamorphoses

Origins of the Cyclopes

fire-demons (S. Eitram in Pauly-Wissowa)

eye as the sun (Wilhelm Grimm)

eye as a whirlwind (Mannhardt)

firedrill (A.B. Cook)

This material has been published on the web by Prof. Tom Sienkewicz for his students at Monmouth College. If you have any questions, you can contact him at

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