Monsters and Myth – part 1 – Cyclopes

Fantastical creatures have featured in mythology and storytelling since people first sat around the fire and told of great beasts and wicked monsters. They are at the core of our cultures, from great dragons, to hydra, to sea monsters, mermaids, fairies and pretty much everything you can think of and some you wish you hadn’t.  Many  were humanoid, some carrying more arms, legs or eyes and some less. Some weren’t – lizards,  half birds, half lions, creatures which look they they are made up of left over bits of other animals. The unnatural zoology was vast.

Of course many still feature in modern fantasy – dragons, fairies/feyfolk, unicorns, shapechangers and more.  Paranormal fiction is extremely popular – with the vampires/werecreatures etc as the heroes. But what of the lesser known creatures? The nightmare of our ancestors?

The ancient Greek heroes fought and slayed everything from Medusa, the snake-haired woman whose gaze was petrifying, to one eyed Cyclopes – the offspring of mighty Poseidon and the sea nymph Thoosa, (Homeric tradition) or second generation gods – the spawn of Gaea and Uranus (Hesiod). They were giants, builders and liked to snack on mortals (and demi-gods) who strayed into their path. Some were famed for working for the lame god Hephaestus, and some such as Polyphemus were shepherds. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphemus).  Today I am going to focus on these creatures.

The Greek deities were a paranoid lot (with good reason for the most part) and the Cyclopes were imprisoned by Uranus who was afraid of their power. To be released again by the Titans and Chronos in order to defeat Uranus they were later imprisoned again as their power increased, only to be released by Zeus so they could help him overthrow the Titans. (Yes intrigue and double crossing was the staple diet of the Greek immortals.)

One eye had been traded in order that they may see into the future – but as such bargains often turn out – the small print was overlooked and all they could foresee was the day of their death.

Odysseus blinded and tricked Polyphemus, who had it must be admitted eaten several of the trickster’s friends – who in turn were trying to steal some of the giant’s provisions and had found their way into the cyclop’s den.

Getting the cyclops tipsy Odysseus thrust a burning, sharpened stake into the monster’s eye – then cried out his name was ‘No one’ or ‘Nobody’ (depending on the translation) so when the cyclops staggered outside crying ‘Nobody’ blinded him the other giants thought him mad.

Of course Odysseus being Odysseus couldn’t resist letting Polyphemus know who it really was once he was safely back at sea. Telling him it was ‘Odysseus, son of Laertes of Ithica who has blinded you’. This was not among Odysseus smarter plans as this particular cyclops was the son of Poseidon who was rather annoyed and send the great hero’s boat in a rather roundabout way home…

The story reappears in later myths – Virgil tells the story from the perspective of a seaman of Odysseus’ crew left behind (Aeneid) and Aeneas and his crew see the blinded giant and his companions and beat a hasty retreat.

Later mythological writers, including Ovid, speak of the love affair between Polyphemus and the sea-nymph Galataea – with a greater or lesser tragic ending (she loved another).  And Wilhem Grimm collected tales and retelling of one-eyed giants from Serbia, German, Finnish, Romanian and Russian mythology.

In the Renaissance composers brought the tales to opera. Giovanni Bononcini, Jean-Baptiste LullyJoseph Haydn  and George Frideric Handel composed works around the story of Polyphemus, Galataea and Acis, her lover (whom Polyphemus kills). Artists and sculptors too have used the cyclops and his tale as a basis for their work. Interestingly too the Scottish Rite Freemasons have Polyphemus as a symbol for civilisation that harms itself using ill-directed blind force.

Origins – Othenio Abel in 1914 argues the origins maybe from prehistorical dwarf elephant skulls – with a big central hole for the trunk, which of course would be gone by the time the fossil was found.

Cyclopia – is an uncommon but real condition is a ‘rare form of holoprosencephaly and is a congenital disorder (birth defect) characterized by the failure of the embryonic prosencephalon to properly divide the orbits of the eye into two cavities’. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclopia

Often the nose is missing or is non-functioning and appears ABOVE the single eye-socket. The foetuses usually abort or are still-born, however some living cyclopic animals have been recorded, although they rarely survive for long. Causes can include toxins such as cornlily or false hellebore Veratrum californicum – which resembles Hellebore, which is given as a natural remedy for vomiting, cramps and poor circulation. White Hellebore, which was cited by Hippocrates, also contains teratogens  which can cause the deformity. Genetics too can cause the condition – the Sonic the Hedgehog gene regulator (yes really) can suppress a particular protein needed in eye development in early embryos and cause the mutation.

So misunderstood fossils or deformities could have created a myth, which in turn became the story of one-eyed giants.

Sources:

http://www.theoi.com/Gigante/GigantePolyphemos.html

http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Creatures/Cyclopes/cyclopes.html

http://www.greek-gods.info/greek-heroes/odysseus/myths/odysseus-polyphemus/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclopia

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphemus)

Mutants: On the form, varieties and errors of the human body. (c) Armand Marie Leroi 2003

The Odyssey of Homer (various translations)

 

 

A Week in Hell – Day Seven – Yelle Hughes/Dionysius

So my week in hell is almost over. It has been an enlightening experience.

Today I welcome Yelle Hughes.

Synopsis for Red Tails

The war on Heaven’s gates ended in defeat. The souls returned to their
normal existence, if you can call torture and agony normal.  Erra and is
band of Seven decided there wasn’t enough pain. So, opens the poetry hall,
Red Tail’s Corner, overseen by the bored and calculating god of wine and
madness, Dionysus. Where a shot of Hellfire Triple Six won’t inebriate
you…it will burn you.

 

Author Bio: Yelle Hughes, mum of three and now a proud grandparent, is an avid reader as well as author. She enjoys canoeing, studying the Greek myths, watching action and western movies, and is an unpaid movie critic. Her work is written from the heart and from the people who have passed through her life, just as the seasons pass each year.

How did you end up writing for Heroes in Hell? I had just started out on Facebook, meeting authors and trying to learn more about self-publishing. I posted some information about my Greek characters in a Like for Life campaign when a Tempus Thales wrote a message. I don’t remember the exact words but he said, I like what you’re doing and I want you to write for me.

It’s funny, I had never heard of Tempus Thales, until I joined Heroes in Hell and found out to my surprise, Tempus was good friends with Janet Morris, and I had heard of her as an author. I was in awe!

She gave me a slew of information on the Hell universe, characters, location…I was a bit overwhelmed and I told her so. Janet didn’t coddle me or give me pretty words, she gave it to me straight. “How do you know if you can’t do it, if you don’t even try. It’s all up to you, let me know when you’re ready.

I was determined because I felt I would let her down if I didn’t, so I did it. I wrote my first Hell story “Essence Helliance” and have been a Hellion ever since and proud of it.
How do you deal with writing in a shared universe? Janet runs a pretty orderly ship and along with the help of our Muse of Hell, Sarah Gray Hulcy, I incorporated myself in nicely. When a Hellion writes a story, they have to make sure their character isn’t being used by another. Our Muse keeps a list of all the authors and what characters they use. A topic and synopsis is given to us Hellions and we write our stories around it. It’s very simple. The hard part is writing something interesting, compelling, possibly gory and scary, but also entertaining.
Why did you choose the characters you are using?

If you check out my self-published works and my website, you will find I’m all about Greek Mythology. I write in almost every genre, except western, but you know what? Now that I think about it, that would be a really cool thing to do. Just think, Zeus whipping around on a golden stallion with his six-shooter and rescuing the damsel off the train tracks. (lol I try to be funny sometimes, don’t mind me)

Back to the question, I find it a challenge (I love a good challenge) to place my Greek characters in hell. I try to keep their personalities within either their real life scenario or their mythical one.

Welcome to the Hell Interview Channel, brought to you infernally hour after hour.

Name(s): Dionysius, Baccus, Drunkard, Lover of all the ladies and Eleutherios (“the liberator”).

Age (before death and after you ended up in HSM’s domain):I am ageless. I was born, that’s all that matters
Please tell us a little about yourself. As you know, I love to party and I love for my followers to party with me. As of late, Olympus has been quite boring. My dear, Lucifer, has been so gracious to let me come to his several hells to play

Who were you in life? I am the god of wine and harvest

How do you think you ended up in Hell? As I said, the immortal world had become tedious and I needed something to preoccupy myself.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less. I can look like anything. Satyrs, a bull, even a centaur. Right now, I’m tall, handsome with dark curly hair. I’m wearing a white t-shirt with the sleeves rolled up and folded towel is laying on my shoulder. I’m sporting dark jeans that are a little, too tight.

Where do you live in Hell? Tell us about your residence and area. Right now, I’m living at my bar, Red Tail’s corner. I have a home on Olympus and second one on Mt. Pramnos on the isle of Ikaria.

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it? Is your moral code the same as it was in life? My moral code, never be bored. I’ll do anything to keep it from happening. Tricking mortals to condemn their souls is very exciting.

Would you kill for those you love? After all sending someone to the Undertaker is not very nice!

The only person that I would kill for, is my mother, Semele. With her being dead already, I’ll annihilate anyone. The Undertaker make’s my day.

Would you die for those you love? Die, being a relative term….Uhm…no. I’m a Greek god and that’s just nutty and unheard of.

Do you have any phobias? Are you plagued by anything particular in Hell? I really dislike, when I’m interrupted when I’m speaking with HSM. Souls have been popping up out of nowhere lately and it gets pretty annoying.

What do you think Satan’s most creative punishment is here? Although I wasn’t there to witness, Sisyphus comes to mind. I thought it was the most creative, cruel and hilarious punishment known to man.

Who are your friends here? Alas, I have no friends. I wouldn’t dare call Lucifer one. The person I am closest to in Hell is my lovely Sphinx. I’d love to call her a friend, however, I have to set her on fire every night.

Who are your enemies? My enemy is that damn Ariadne of Crete. I worked her well and tricked the shy girl to condemn her soul. Yet she’s so darn innocent and looks at you with those puppy dog eyes, you can’t help but feel sorry for her. I hate her for how she makes me feel.

If I recall relationships are… difficult, is this the side of humanity you miss the most? When I’m in hell, I miss the fact that I can’t get drunk. Some rule Satan passed. I love it down here and if I can chug a little hooch, it would be even better.

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. Okay, this will be between you and me…Sphinx and I was dating before I had to fry her to a crisp.

Author notes:

Book(s) in which this character appears plus links:

Dreamer’s in Hell-Essence Helliance

Poet’s in Hell-Red Tail’s Corner

 

Author name

Yelle Hughes

 

Website/Blog/Author pages etc.

Website: http://yellehughes.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/YelleHughes?ref=hl

Twitter: https://twitter.com/YelleHughes

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/11825146-yelle