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The Cyclopes are a one-eyed race of giant men who forge the thunderbolts for Zeus.

There are two races of Cyclopes: the first is the original sons of Uranus and Gaea. The second race is a reclusive tribe that Odysseus encounters in the epic poem The Odyssey by Homer, and they are the sons of Poseidon.

The first race of Cyclopes were imprisoned in Tartarus until they were released by Zeus. They went to work for the blacksmith god Hephaestus, and showed their thanks to Zeus by forging his lightning bolts for him whenever he needed more. They also created a helm of invisibility for Hades, and Poseidon’s mighty trident.

The race of Cyclopes that Odysseus’ encounters are also gigantic one-eyed men, but they were said to be the sons of Poseidon. Odysseus and his men went ashore on the Cyclopes’ island to explore and refill supplies. They waited in a cave for the giant to return, and he turned out to be a Cyclops named Polyphemus who loved to dine on the flesh of men. He nearly killed all of Odysseus’ scouting party before Odysseus came up with the idea to shave down a large tree branch into a spike, get Polyphemus drunk, and drive the spike into his one eye as he slept. The next morning, Odysseus and his men clung to the bellies of Polyphemus’ rams which ran under the giant’s hands untouched. Odysseus, however, could not contain his glee at his escape and mocked Polyphemus, leading Polyphemus to call down a curse on Odysseus from his father Poseidon.

Cyclopes Quick Reference

Parents

Uranus and Gaea, or Poseidon


Notable Myths


Attributes and Symbols

Giants with one large eye in the middle of their forehead


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