The best lies are based in truth, and the same goes for myths. While it is easy to treat the myths of the ancient Greeks as pure fiction, one must also wonder where exactly they got their inspiration from. If all myths are based on some morsel of fact, are mythical creatures rooted in realism?
Was cyclops real, or at least based on a real thing? It's difficult to say for certain, but the origin of the cyclops may have been representing some natural phenomenon. There are animals that are born with a single eye, and humans are known to experience unique deformities that seem to match the definition of a true cyclops. Some scientists even claim to have found a fossil originally believed to have belonged to a cyclops, which could have led to the first legends about these mythical beasts. While it is unlikely that this one-eye monster ever truly existed, it is possible that things in the natural world played a part in the formation of this classic cryptid.
The Cyclops Is A Beast Of Ancient Greek Myth
The cyclops as we imagine him today is a creature that was most famously described in the classic Greek text, The Odyssey. In this novel, a cyclopean beast named Polyphemus terrorizes the hero Odysseus and his band of men, until Odysseus himself manages to blind the creature. Cyclopes have a reputation of being dim-witted and ill-tempered, and they often are said to kill men who get in the way of their most primal desires.
Another Myth States That The Cyclops Is The Son Of A God
While Odysseus was storied to have confronted the great cyclops Polyphemus, this is not the only tale of a cyclops in ancient Greek culture. These creatures were believed to be the offspring of Uranus, the primal god of the sky. A group of three cyclops siblings, Arges, Steropes, and Brontes, were masters of storms and could control lightning and thunder. These three cyclops were known as great smiths, and they were the ones who first provided Zeus with his most poweful weapon; lightning bolts.
The Myth May Have Been Inspired By The Skulls Of Pachyderms
How could anyone believe in a giant, one-eyed monster with ferocious teeth and a mean temper? As it turns out, the skulls of one of earth's most recognizable animals may have been the inspiration for these impressive beasts. The skulls of elephants and extinct mammoths have features that perfectly match the description of the cyclops. Elephant skulls have massive openings in the center of their skulls.
Today we know that this is where an elephant's long trunk attaches to its nasal passages, but people of the past may have scene these large holes as the slot of a humongous eyeball. The large size of the skull and the impressive tusks would have solidified the belief that elephants were actually one-eyed behemoths.
Mammoth Skulls Have Been Found On The Island Of Crete
Crete is a massive island off the coast of Greece that is home to quite a few mythological creatures, including the minotaur. On this same island, evidence of an impossible creature managed to float toward the surface and permeate the international community. Nearly 10 million years ago, a mammoth perished on the isle of Crete. It's bones would eventually fossilize, and they were recently discovered in the birthplace of the cyclops. Finding a mammoth trunk in Greece is a huge deal, as it suggests that the Greek people may have had access to mammoth skulls thousands of years ago and that could have led to stories about the cyclops.