Friday, December 11, 2009

Day XI - Cyclops

Man-eating giant,
Ocular disadvantage,
Odysseus wins.

A powerful primordial race of one-eyed giants, the Cyclopes are - depending on tradition - either gifted great masons who forged Zeus' thunderbolts, simple shepherds or brutal beasts with a taste for man-flesh. The most famous Cyclops is Polyphemos from the Odyssey who trapped the hero and a bunch of his companions in his cave and started eating them up one by one. Cunning Odysseus, however, conspires to get the big'un drunk and rams a burning stake into the Cyclops' single eye. Odysseus has also convinced the brute that he's called "Nobody", so that when blinded Polyphemos howls out in agony and causes the other Cyclopes to ask "who has hurt you?" his pained replies of "Nobody" receive only ridicule; Odysseus and the remaining survivors escape in the meantime disguised as sheep. Such is the sorrow of the mono-browed monster, but it's not all bad for the lovably humble hulk: Ray Harryhausen's Cyclops from The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad has gone down in stop-motion movie legend and the lone eyeball icon even inspired a form of architecture favoured by the ancient Mycenaeans and H.P. Lovecraft stories.

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