How many eyes? One, two or three? The truth about Cyclops. Such a creature actually existed (really!)
The one thing most people know about the Cyclopes (plural of Cyclops) is that they had a single eye in the middle of their face. But artists could not, or did not always want to portray them thus: here is a selection:Two-eyed?
Meet the original Cyclops!
All elephants, of course, have a unique feature: their nose is elongated to form a trunk. But this proboscis has no bones in it - an elephant"s skeleton would give little clue as to the physiognomy of its original owner- especially to a population unaware of a past elephant population, or who had never seen or even heard of an elephant. In fact the nasal cavity looks like nothing so much as a single enormous eye-socket. Hence the Cyclops legend? The dwarf elephant of Sicily would not have been a giant to compare with the modern African elephant - but his skull, with its single eye-hole would, in my opinion, certainly be enough to suggest that a race of one-eyed giants had once roamed on the island.
There"s a book ( published Spring 2000) from Princeton University Press by Adrienne Mayor, which advances the theory that tales of Griffins, Giants and Centaurs as well as Cyclopes arose from interpretation of the fossil evidence by the ancients. It"s called Palaeontology in Greek and Roman Times.
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The dwarf elephant theory to explain the Cyclops was first thought of in 1914 by Othenio Abel.