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Mythological Monsters: Did they ever exist?

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Author Topic: Mythological Monsters: Did they ever exist?  (Read 2626 times)
Moira Kelliey
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« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2007, 09:20:18 pm »



 
The Cyclops, a 1914 painting by Odilon Redon.
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Moira Kelliey
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« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2007, 09:21:31 pm »

Cyclops
 
Polyphemus the Cyclops.In Greek mythology a Cyclops, or Kyklops (Greek Κύκλωψ), is a primordial giant with a human form, each with a single round eye in the middle of its forehead. The plural is Cyclopes or Kyklopes (Greek Κύκλωπες). The name means "round-" or "wheel-eyed".

There are two distinct groups of Cyclopes. In Hesiod's Theogony, Zeus releases the Cyclopes, the sons of Uranus and Gaia, from Tartarus, and receives his characteristic weapon, the thunderbolt, from them; in one of the most famous passages of Homer's Odyssey, the hero Odysseus encounters the Cyclops Polyphemus, the son of Poseidon and Thoosa, who lives with his fellow Cyclopes in a distant country. The connection between the two groups has been debated in antiquity and by modern scholars.[1]

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Moira Kelliey
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« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2007, 09:23:21 pm »

Hesiod's Cyclops
 
In the Theogony, the CyclopesóBrontes (thunderer), Steropes (flasher) and Arges (brightener)ówere the sons of Uranus ("Sky") and Gaia ("Earth"). Like their brothers, the Hecatonchires ("hundred-handed ones"), they were primordial sons of Sky and Earth. They were giants with a single eye in the middle of their forehead and a foul disposition. According to Hesiod, they were strong, stubborn, and "abrupt of emotion". Collectively they eventually became synonyms for brute strength and power, and their name was invoked in connection with massive masonry and especially well-crafted weapons.

Uranus, fearing their strength, locked them in Tartarus. Cronus, another son of Uranus and Gaia, later freed the Cyclopes, along with the Hecatonchires, after he had castrated and overthrown Uranus. But Cronus then placed them back in Tartarus, where they remained, guarded by the she-dragon Campe, until freed by Zeus. They fashioned thunderbolts for Zeus to use as weapons, and helped him overthrow Cronus and the other Titans. The thunderbolts, which became Zeus' signature weapons, were forged by all three Cyclopes: Arges added brightness, Brontes added thunder, and Steropes added lightning.

These Cyclopes also created Poseidon's trident, Artemis' bow and arrow, and the helmet that Hades gave to Perseus on his quest to kill Medusa. According to a hymn of Callimachus,[2] they were Hephaestus' helpers at the forge. The Cyclopes were said to have built the "cyclopean" fortifications at Tiryns and Mycenae in the Peloponnese. The noises proceeding from the heart of volcanoes were attributed to their operations.

It is said[citation needed] that these Cyclopes were later killed by Apollo after Zeus killed his son, Asclepius, with a Cyclopes-forged thunderbolt.


Homer's Cyclopes

The Cyclopes were huge one-eyed monsters that resided on an island with the same name. Commonly, the term "Cyclops" refers to a particular son of Poseidon and Thoosa named Polyphemus who was a Cyclops. Another member of this group of Cyclopes was Telemus, a seer.


Polyphemus


In Book 9 of Homer's Odyssey, a scouting party led by Odysseus lands on the Island of the Cyclopes and discovers a large cave. They enter into the cave and feast on food they find there. This cave is the home of Polyphemus, who soon returns and traps the trespassers in the cave. He proceeds to eat several crew members, but Odysseus devises a cunning plan for escape.

To make Polyphemus unwary, Odysseus gives him a skin of very strong, unwatered wine. When Polyphemus asks for Odysseus' name, he tells him that it is 'Outis', Greek for 'no man' or 'nobody'. Once the giant falls asleep drunk, Odysseus and his men take the spit from the fire and drive it through Polyphemus' only eye. Polyphemus' cries of help are answered by the others of his race; however, they turn away from aiding him when they hear that "Nobody" is the cause of his woes.

In the morning, Odysseus ties his men and himself to the undersides of Polyphemus' sheep. When the Cyclops lets the sheep out to graze, the men are carried out. Since Polyphemus has been blinded, he doesn't see the men, but feels the tops of his sheep to make sure the men aren't riding them. As he sailed away, Odysseus shouts "Cyclops, when your father asks who took your eye, tell him that it was Odysseus, Sacker of Cities, Destroyer of Troy, son of Laertes, and King of Ithaca," which proves to be a catastrophic example of hubris. Now knowing his attacker's name, Polyphemus asks his father Poseidon to prevent Odysseus from returning home to Ithaca, or to at least deprive him of his ship and crew.

This tale from the Odyssey is more humorously told in the only surviving satyr play, entitled Cyclops by Euripides.

The Sicilian Greek poet Theocritus wrote two poems circa 275 BC concerning Polyphemus' desire for Galatea, a sea nymph. When Galatea instead was with Acis, a Sicilian mortal, a jealous Polyphemus killed him with a boulder. Galatea turned Acis' blood into a river of the same name in Sicily.

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Moira Kelliey
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« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2007, 09:24:39 pm »

Origins

Walter Burkert among others suggests[3]that the archaic groups or societies of lesser gods mirror real cult associations: "it may be surmised that smith guilds lie behind Cabeiri, Idaian Dactyloi, Telchines, and Cyclopes." Given their penchant for blacksmithing, many scholars believe the legend of the Cyclopes' single eye arose from an actual practice of blacksmiths wearing an eyepatch over one eye to prevent flying sparks from blinding them in both eyes. The Cyclopes seen in Homer's Odyssey are of a different type from those in the Theogony; they were most likely much later additions to the pantheon and have no connection to blacksmithing. It is possible that legends associated with Polyphemus did not make him a Cyclops before Homer's Odyssey; Polyphemus may have been some sort of local daemon or monster originally. The Triamantes in Cretan legend have been suggested - they were a rural race of man-eating ogres who had a third eye on the back of their head. Other than the detail of the eyes, they sound very similar to the Cyclopes of Homer.

Another possible origin for the Cyclops legend is that prehistoric dwarf elephant skulls - about twice the size of a human skull were found by the Greeks on Crete and Sicily. Due to the large central nasal cavity (for the trunk) in the skull, it might have been believed that this was a large, single, eye-socket. The smaller, actual, eye-sockets are on the sides and, being very shallow, hardly noticeable as such. Given the paucity of experience that the locals likely had with living elephants, they were unlikely to recognize the skull for what it actually was. [1]

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Moira Kelliey
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« Reply #19 on: February 24, 2007, 09:26:02 pm »

Hecatonchires
The Hecatonchires, or Hekatonkheires, were three gargantuan figures of an archaic stage of Greek mythology. They were children of Gaia and Uranus,[1] simply the issue of Earth and Sky, thus part of the very beginning of things (Kerenyi 1951:19) in the submerged prehistory of Greek myth, though they played no part in cult. They were known as Briareus the Vigorous, also called Aigaion, the "sea goat", Cottus the Striker or the Furious, and Gyges (or Gyes) the Big-Limbed. Their name derives from the Greek ἑκατόν (hekaton; "hundred") and χείρ (kheir; "hand"), and means "Hundred-Handed", "each of them having a hundred hands and fifty heads" (Bibliotheca). They were giants of incredible strength and ferocity, even superior to that of the Titans, whom they helped overthrow, and the Cyclopes. In Latin poetry, the Hecatonchires were known as the Centimani, which simply translates "Hundred-Handed Ones."

Soon after they were born, their father, Uranus, threw them into the depths of Tartarus because he saw them as hideous monsters. In some versions of this myth, Uranus saw how ugly the Hecatonchires were at their birth and pushed them back into Gaia's womb, upsetting Gaia greatly, causing her great pain, and setting into motion the overthrow of Uranus by Cronus. In this version of the myth, they were only later imprisoned in Tartarus by Cronus. Another version[citation needed] of the legend seems to say that Gaia wanted Cronus to free the Hecatonchires, but that he didn't, which possibly made them bitter at the Titans.

The Hecatonchires remained there, guarded by the dragon Campe, until Zeus rescued them, advised by Gaia that they would serve as good allies against Cronus. During the War of the Titans, the Hecatonchires threw rocks as big as mountains, one hundred at a time, at the Titans, overwhelming them. Hesiod, in continuing the Theogony (734-35) reports the three Hecatonchires became the guards of the gates of Tartarus.


 
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Moira Kelliey
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« Reply #20 on: February 24, 2007, 09:27:35 pm »

Briareos as the "sea-goat" Aigaion
The sea-goat 'Aigaion "cannot be distinguished from Hesiod's Briareos"[2] In Virgil's Aeneid (10.566-67), Aeneas is likened in a simile to "Aegaeon," though in Virgil's account Aegaeon fought on the side of the Titans rather than the Olympians; in this Virgil was following the lost Titanomachy rather than the more familiar account in Hesiod.

In the Iliad (i.399) there is a story, found nowhere else in mythology, that at one time the Olympian gods were trying to overthrow Zeus but were stopped when the sea nymph Thetis brought one of the Hecatonchires to his aid, him whom the gods call Briareios but men call Aigaion ("goatish" Iliad i.403).[3] Hesiod reconciles the archaic Hecatonchires with the Olympian pantheon by making of Briareos the son-in-law of Poseidon, he "giving him Kymopoliea his daughter to wed." (Theogony 817).

In a Corinthian myth related in the second century CE to Pausanias (Description of Greece ii. 1.6 and 4.7), Briareus was the arbitrator in a dispute between Poseidon and Helios, between sea and sun: he adjudged the Isthmus of Corinth to belong to Poseidon and the acropolis of Corinth (Acrocorinth) sacred to Helios.


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unknown
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« Reply #21 on: February 26, 2007, 04:31:17 pm »

Moria

Great work
I love how you found all these wonderful pictures to go with the above par text.

You know some monsters that were thought to be mythical have turned out to be real, the mountain gorilla is a prime example.
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"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
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« Reply #22 on: February 28, 2007, 01:16:09 am »

Except she didn't mention the satyr!  That is the most over-sexed mythological monster of the group.  Can't we get a shout out for the satyr?
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unknown
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« Reply #23 on: February 28, 2007, 01:35:16 am »

hey!
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"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
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« Reply #24 on: February 28, 2007, 04:09:12 am »

From Boreas at AR:

My understanding is that the Greek Medusa is a paralell to the Roman Luxuria. They were both part of the old female "deities", in a culture where the highest of the royals - of both sexes - also functioned as deities.

Being the essential goal for the old offering-systems they received the the female serpents, bringing the "Water of Life" (Aqua Vita), also called the "Water of Wisdom", to the respective royal courts.

The Go+Ra+Go`n (Good+Ra+Good) says that the old deities, called Good-men, got and gave the Ra, representing the male Seeds of Knowledge and Water of Life. The rites of the old Spartans reflect the practice of these principles. But, with the defeat to the uprising Athenians the old nobility of Troy lost, and the more violent culture took over. Thus the old rites were altered and eventually completly denounced.

When the old culture - and the inherrited rights of it - were overthrown, this culture was abandoned and stigmatized. By the new rulers, - that were without this inherited right to receive the grace of the people. Thus the old funtion of the royal deities was given up, and eventually mystified.

It is interesting to see how the key-figures in the old culture - such as Medusa and Jezebel - soon came to be pictured as "devilish". The devil-figure was also part of the old practice of worship that created the serpent that once involved all members of the respective societies - with each other - and thus became the yearly blessing for the people - to their royal families and rulers of the land.

Go + R + Go + N

Good + Ra
Male Ra; Seed of Knowledge
Female; Water of Wisdom ("reflection").

Good + kNowledge (N also representing the North-star, with six angles (sextant) - symbolising higher knowledge and navigation.

Gorgon; Good Seed/Water; Good Knowledge.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2007, 04:13:16 am by rockessence » Report Spam   Logged

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Moira Kelliey
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« Reply #25 on: February 28, 2007, 03:21:17 pm »

Moria

Great work
I love how you found all these wonderful pictures to go with the above par text.

You know some monsters that were thought to be mythical have turned out to be real, the mountain gorilla is a prime example.

Thanks for the compliment, Unknown. This Caravaggio is my all-time favorite mythological artwork:



Sure, the Mountain Gorilla was a myth until something like the year 1900, wasn't it?

They've also discovered a whole bunch of new species in the arctic since the ice began to melt (due to global warming). 
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unknown
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« Reply #26 on: February 28, 2007, 07:53:20 pm »

Hi Moira

Your Welcome,
 that is a cool picture of Medusa, the snakes really give the impression of hair.
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"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
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« Reply #27 on: March 16, 2007, 08:47:44 am »

Except she didn't mention the satyr!  That is the most over-sexed mythological monster of the group.  Can't we get a shout out for the satyr?

The most famous myth about King Midas is when he received the golden touch from Dionysus, god of the life force. Dionysus was associated with intoxication and was followed by a group of satyrs -- half human, half goat individuals with a lust for wine and sexual pleasures. The leader of the satyrs, entrusted with Dionysus' education, was Silenus. One day, completely in character for a satyr, Silenus became intoxicated and passed out in Midas' rose garden. The peasants found him and brought him before their king. Luckily, Midas recognized Silenus and treated him well for five days and nights. During this time, Silenus entertained Midas and his court with fantastic tales.

one of those tales was of a lost continent called Meropis ... just so u know .
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