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Classical Cyclops

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"I spy with my big eye...nobody?!"
"The cyclops is a one-eyed monster possessing a huge body and fearsome tusks. Fully grown cyclopes reach a height of twenty to twenty-five feet, and as a result of their large size they are prone to sloth and apathy. However, cyclopes can be inspired to ferocious action when they are angered, so act with caution in their presence."
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Cyclopes are monstrous beings originating in Classical Mythology. Their most defining characteristic is their single eye, usually located in the middle of their foreheads. Besides that, they're usually depicted as giant, muscular humanoids, and often have additional monstrous traits such as tusks or a single horn above their eye.

Cyclopes are typically portrayed as dumb and brutish beings. At their most advanced they're usually barbarians and roving marauders; at their least, they're monstrous cavemen or barely above animals. They typically fight with crude and unsophisticated weapons such as Primitive Clubs as archetypal Smash Mooks. They also tend to be aggressive and carnivorous, and with few compunctions about eating people. Subversions tend to take inspiration from their mythical status as master smiths in service of the Greek gods, in which case they may be portrayed as reclusive Ultimate Blacksmiths. Some works will combine these two archetypes, either by having them as distinct kinds or populations or by having the modern primitive brutes be descended from a fallen empire ruled by much more advanced, skillful cyclopes.

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They're often linked in some way to Ancient Greece or a Fantasy Counterpart Culture thereof. They may also be tied to classical gods or stand-ins for the same, especially Poseidon, who was their progenitor in the original myths, and Hephaestus, in whose forges they were said to work.

Subtrope of Cyclops and Our Giants Are Different.


Examples

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    Comic Books 
  • Alan Ford: During Number One's retelling of the Odyssey, we find out that the dreaded Cyclops living in Sicily were actually a tribe of shy one-eyed dwarfs who were using their reputation as fearsome man-eating giants to keep strangers at bay. They bribe Odysseus and Number One to make them keep the secret and leave their lands forever.
  • Exiles (2018): When the Exiles fall into a world based on stories from the Thousand and One Nights, they come across an island where Sinbad's crew is attacked by cyclopses, except the giants all bear the distinctive visor of the mutant Cyclops.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Diana and Wonder Girl once had to deal with Cyclon, the giant, one-eyed progeny of Polyphemus and Medusa. Fortunately, he turned out to be friendly.
    • In Wonder Woman (1987), Diana and Hippolyta have to deal with Polyphemus, who was imprisoned in the underworld behind Dooms Doorway and has spent centuries starving in a cave, still blinded from his encounter with Odysseus. He is further agitated because he ate the god Pan and god flesh doesn't take being eaten very well.

    Films — Animated 
  • Hercules: The titular hero has to fight against a huge, brutish cyclops released by Hades alongside the titans after losing his phenomenal strength in a deal with the god of the underworld. Despite this handicap, Hercules still has his combat experience and plucky sidekick Pegasus and manages to defeat the giant by tying his legs with a rope and sending him plunging off a cliff.
  • Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas: A deleted scene shows Sinbad and his crew being attacked by cyclopses. The DVD includes the scene with a "choose your own adventure"-esque feature that lets the viewer choose which character's point-of-view they want to see the scene from.
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    Films — Live Action 
  • The 7th Voyage of Sinbad features cyclopes, which look like giant one-eyed satyrs. One has a single horn in its forehead, while the other has two. Granted, this movie is based more on Arabic legends than Greek, but medieval Arabic culture was heavily influenced by the Greeks, so it's not that big of a leap.
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which is loosely based on The Odyssey, has a realistic Cyclops eventually show up in the form of Big Dan Teague, a huge white-suited Bible salesman with only one eye. While he pretends at being a sophisticated gentleman, he's actually a greedy monster who robs the heroes after beating them with a makeshift club.
  • Wrath of the Titans: They make an appearance, defending the land where Hephaestus lives. They attack the heroes, but eventually relent and guide them to the Smith God.

    Literature 
  • The Odyssey: The most well-known cyclops today, Polyphemus, was the son of Poseidon and a sea nymph, a shepherd and a man-eater; his single eye proved his downfall when Odysseus put it out to save himself and his crew, but he was able to call on his father to curse Odysseus for this.
  • Ology Series: Monsterology describes cyclopes as hulking one-eyed humanoids that, despite having had a hand in building the structures of the Minoan civilization of Crete, are only barely sapient brutes nowadays.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Cyclopes appear as giants with a single eye in the middle of their foreheads. They're incredibly strong and tend to be gifted smiths, but are also considered to be extremely ugly. Three distinct groups of them exist:
    • The Olympian cyclopes are the many, many children of Poseidon and assorted nymphs and nature spirits. This makes them all Percy's half-brothers, a subject he tends to find uncomfortable. They chiefly serve their father as smiths and soldiers, and many of them live in his realm beneath the sea — they can breathe water thanks to their parentage. They're chiefly on the side of the heroes, but this isn't universal — Polyphemus, most notably, is one of their number.
    • Hyperborean cyclopes are largely independent, and tend to live in small groups on their own, but retain their skill with metal and machinery. They're more intelligent, but no less hostile than their southern kin, and sided with the Titans during the second Titanomachy.
    • The Elder Cyclopes, Arges, Brontes and Steropes, were the original cyclopes born to Ouranos and Gaea and locked in Tartarus by their father. They're the weaponsmiths of the gods, aiding Hephaestus in his forges and having created most of the gods' weapons, but aren't particularly active otherwise.

    Music 
  • Polyphemus is referenced in the song "More News From Nowhere" by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, which recounts celebrity life in a Whole Plot Reference to The Odyssey.
    I turn another corner
    I go down a corridor
    And I see this guy
    He must be about one hundred foot tall
    And he only has one eye
    He asks me for my autograph
    I write "nobody" and then
    I wrap myself up in my woolly coat
    And I blind him with my pen

    Mythology 
  • Classical Mythology:
    • These are known as Homeric cyclopses by mythology scholars, since they come from The Odyssey by Homer. They are big, dumb, uncivilized giants who live in caves and herd sheep for a living. The cyclopses of Homer-derived myths are all (or at least mostly) children of the ocean god Poseidon (which probably explains why they tend to be island-dwelling). Humans are on the list of things they will eat but it's not the only thing they will eat. The most famous example is Polyphemus from The Odyssey.
    • There were other cyclopses in Greek myth that didn't fit this trope. Those being the Hesiodian cyclopses who were brothers of the Titans and master craftsmen, and the arimapsi who were archenemies of griffins.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Dark Eye: Cyclopes are a race of one-eyed giants who live among the volcanoes of the Cyclops Islands. They're extremely skilled smiths and made many legendary weapons, but jealously guard their secrets and don't readily share their creations with humans.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has had a long history with cyclopes.
    • The Greek Mythology version first appears in the 1st Edition Deities and Demigods Cyclopedia. There are two variants, the Chaotic Good Greater Cyclops (based on the ones who serve Hephaestus in his forge) and the Lawful Evil Lesser Cyclops (based on Polyphemus and his ilk).
    • Cyclopes have also appeared as the core Monster Manual in some editions, but in those cases there are just one species of Cyclops, which has more in common with the Lesser Cyclops, being violent but dimwitted recluses that spend their days tending to sheep and smashing trespassers with their clubs.
    • Like many things in 4th Edition, cyclopes were drastically changed. Here, they originate from the Feywild's version of the Underdark, where they work as a Servant Race for the Fomorians, a hideously deformed race of insane, subterranean giants who constantly war with the fairies on the surface. While this change was one of the more welcomed ones due to the depth it gave them, it was quietly dropped with the advent of 5th edition and cyclopes went back to their usual characterization.
    • Mazes and Minotaurs, a version of D&D developed as a "What If? Gary Gygax inspired himself from Classical Antiquity instead of Tolkien?", naturally features cyclopes. The Gigantic Cyclops are the stupid and brutish version, described as "as stupid as they are huge" and "their existence is entirely governed by their brutish instincts". The Lesser Cyclops are those working in forges.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Cyclopes appear somewhat uncommonly in a number of sets. They're strongly tied to Red, the color of chaos, emotion and aggressiveness, and share an in-universe niche with ogres as violent, man-eating and often barely sapient brutes. In appearance, they vary from just big, one-eyed humans to hulking, one-eyed ogres to barely humanoid colossi with faces dominated by grotesquely enlarged orbs and gaping maws bristling with fangs.
    • Dominaria hosts cyclopes in the Ekundu Mountains. They're noted to have a very simple language — their tongue has only fifty words, ten of which mean "kill".
    • Ravnica's cyclopes, also called monoclons, are often employed by Red-aligned guilds. Most live among the Gruul Clans, but they also serve as fortress guards in the Boros Legion and in the Izzet League as heavy lifters. Some, such as the Gruul leader Borborygmos, have horns.
    • In Theros, a plane heavily based off of Classical Mythology, cyclopes are animalistic, aggressive brutes who live in the wilderness and attack anyone they come across. They don't feel pain, and are capable of razing villages on their own. Some even wield lightning.
  • Pathfinder: Cyclopes are a branch of the giant family, distinguished as usual by their single eye and by a ravenous hunger that afflicts them almost unceasingly. They stand around nine feet tall, making them rather short for giants but towering above humans. They were also among the first people to develop advanced civilizations, and established a number of powerful empires such as Gol-Ghan in northern Garund and Koloran in the far north; however, their hunger proved to be their downfall, as they consume too much food for large populations to be sustainable in the long term, and their empires all collapsed. Most modern cyclopes are primitive savages, and live alone or in small groups as large tribes are difficult for them to sustain; they are indiscriminate meat eaters and often cannibals. They are genuinely very intelligent, but are rarely able to take advantage of this as they are usually single-mindedly obsessed with obtaining food.
    • Cyclops eyes are extremely complex organs, are fed by multiple arteries and consume as much energy as their brains. They lack depth perception, but can see farther than humans and have excellent low-light visions, and they're also known to be able to literally see into the future. Eyes are also considered sacrosanct in cyclops society: while cyclopes practice funerary cannibalism, they never eat each other's eyes and bury them instead. Being blinded is considered a Fate Worse than Death, injurying another cyclops' eye is a strong cultural taboo, and poking someone in the eye is the greatest possible insult in cyclops society.
    • One of the few groups of cyclopes to escape their collective downfall was able to establish a society in the archipelago of Iblydos, the setting's stand-in for classical Greece. These cyclopes live alongside the local human society, upon which they rely for food and stability; in turn, the Iblydan cyclopes can concentrate on developing their oracular powers, and serve as prophets and guides for Iblydan society.
    • Great cyclopes are a breed of cyclopes distinguished from their kin by their immense size and a single horn jutting from their foreheads. Great cyclopes are the ultimate state of cyclopean degeneration; while common cyclopes are genuinely intelligent beings who are simply unable to leverage their intellect very well, great cyclopes are purely primitive, instinct-driven beasts. Rather than simply being a separate breed of cyclops, regular cyclopes periodically surrender to their hunger, abandoning the last vestiges of civilization for the life of a solitary predator and eventually turning into solitary, lumbering colossi only a little above beasts.
    • Ngogas are hybrids of cyclopes and orangutans created in Ghol-Gan as soldiers and workers. They're purely animalistic, and nowadays mostly live feral lives in the Mwangi jungles, but cyclopes still feel a kinship with them and often tame ngogas.
    • Kabandhas are cyclopes with no heads and their eye and mouth on their chests, based on a character from the Indian epic The Ramayana, and serve as wardens of hidden or sacred places.
  • Shadowrun: Cyclopes are a metavariant/subspecies of the troll player race, native to the Mediterranean. They have a single horn directly over their eye and lack the bony skin deposits found in baseline trolls. They're notable for largely avoiding the Fantastic Racism that baseline trolls face and having been mostly accepted into Mediterranean society, finding steady work at dockyards as labor and security. They're also mostly neopagans who worship Poseidon.
  • Victoriana RPG: Cyclopes are single-eyed giant-kin from Patagonia and are renowned for their minds over their bodies, having a natural knack for engineering of both the mundane and magitek varieties.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The 1st Edition core rulebook's description of Giants mentions that there are multiple kinds distinguished by unusual features, specifically naming the one-eyed Cyclops as an example. No other mention of such beings is made in later material, however.

    Video Games 
  • Age of Mythology:
    • Cyclopes appear as Myth Units if you progress to Classical Age with Ares.
    • Another cyclops, Gargarensis, is the Big Bad of the original campaign.
  • Assassin's Creed: Odyssey: Brontes, a cyclops from Greek mythology, appears as a boss fight at the end of a side-quest line. Arges and Steropes are later added as Bonus Boss enemies for high-level characters via patch.
  • Cuphead: A grey-skinned cyclops with a single centrally-positioned horn appears in Rugged Ridge as an Advancing Boss of Doom, starting to chase the player halfway through and destroying any platform in its way.
  • Castle Crashers: The Cyclops is one of the Evil Wizard's servants. He is the greyish-brown hulking humanoid wearing purplish armor, and he uses knives as a weapon. He is shown to have a close relationship with the Conehead Groom, helping him with the Arranged Marriage with the Green Princess, and when the heroes kill the Groom, Cyclops ends up mourning his death. Later, in Cyclops' Fortress, he tries to avenge the Conehead Groom by killing the heroes, only to fall into lava after defeat. He later gets brought Back from the Dead by the Necromancer in undead form. In this form, he fights the heroes in the Evil Wizard's castle, together with the undead version of the Conehead Groom, before he and the Groom are killed for good by heroes, after which their winged souls fly off.
  • Day Dreamin' Davey: There is a cyclops in a Greek mythology-inspired stage that Davey has to destroy by attacking his eye. In reality, the "cyclops" he imagined state turns out to be a girl whom he just hit in the eye in class.
  • Dominions: The giants of Mekone can recruit Elder Cyclopes, while Mekone's successor Phlegra can recruit Younger Cyclopes. They generally have the most magic paths of the nation, and have one level of the Master Smith ability, giving them a +1 bonus to their preexisting magic paths when constructing items.
  • Dragon's Dogma: Cyclopes are hulking humanoid enemies with leathery grey skin, four-fingered hands, three-toed feet, a single beady red eye and elephant-like tusks. They're very primitive beings, wearing only simple loincloths and wielding crude clubs. They're aggressive, carnivorous and with no compunctions about eating people, but their stupidity has allowed humans and goblins to enslave them to exploit their strength. They're easily handled as long as a steady stream of food is provided and easily take a liking towards their feeders, but slip-ups in their feeding schedules can easily cause their innate savagery to emerge.
    • Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen introduces the Gorecyclops, which are darker, evil versions of the normal cyclops.
    • The Condemned Gorecyclops is introduced in Dark Arisen. This one is a gigantic enemy boss chained to a wall. It's one of the largest enemies in the game, and far larger than any other Cyclops.
  • Dragon Quest has cyclopes as a recurring type of Smash Mook enemy throughout the series, typically with blue skin and a single horn. In Dragon Quest IX, one of the grotto bosses is Atlas, an oversized Cyclops Palette Swap who happens to be the strength of God incarnate so huge that lakes and ponds are said to be his footprints.
  • Dwarf Fortress: Cyclopes are semi-megabeasts, rare and powerful creatures that periodically attack fortresses and can destroy buildings but which are more common and less dangerous than true megabeasts like dragons, hydras and Roc Birds. They are the weakest and least intimidating of their kind, which in practice means that they're still dangerous monsters easily able to tear their way through ranks of dwarf militia.
  • Earth Eternal: Green-skinned, ogreish, one-horned cyclopes are a playable race. They originally served as foot soldiers for the fairies, but were abandoned by their superiors after a failed war and have since joined the Beasts.
  • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones has Cyclops as an advanced tier Monster unit. They wield massive axes with high HP, Strength, and Defense at the cost of Skill and Speed.
  • God of War: Cyclopes appear as recurring enemies, typically resembling hulking, neckless giants with a bulging white eye; some have horns. Kratos typically kills them by ripping or stabbing out their eyes.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic: Cyclopses have been units used by the Stronghold Faction in every game since the first, and are always one of the higher tier units available to the faction. Their appearance and fighting style varies from game to game. Enrothian cyclopses from the first four games are more humanoid, and fight using Eye Beams in the first two games and by hurling boulders in the third and fourth. Ashanian cyclopses from the fifth game onwards are the product of failed experiments that involved using demon blood to induce mutations in humans, and have a much more monstrous appearance. They fight with giant clubs, but some also have Eye Beams and/or the ability to pick up and hurl friendly goblins as live ammo.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Hinoxes are large cyclopes encountered somewhat uncommonly as enemies and minibosses, and attack by throwing bombs at Link and sometimes charging at him trying to grab him and throw him. In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, they serve as overworld bosses and are redesigned to have pig-like features and a single horn above their eye. They're usually found sleeping in forests, and Link can fight them to gain valuable weapons and monster parts or sneak atop them to steal their treasures while they sleep. While their smaller Bokoblin and Moblin relatives feed on animal meat, the Hinox seems fond of the taste of people. There is also a variant known as the Stalnox, which is a Hinox's undead skeleton that comes to life at night.
  • Nethack: The Cyclops serves as the Healer quest nemesis, to fit with the Ancient Greece theme of the Healers. He stole the Staff of Aesculapius and had created the plague that would drain everyone of their lifeforce to make himself immortal. In the game, he counts as the giant humanoid class and is represented by H glyph. Though he is physically strong and can use the Staff of Aesculapius to drain the player character's levels, he is Weak to Magic and is suspectible to status effects such as sleep or instant death.
  • Nioh has the One-Eyed Oni, which appears to take the classic Greek monster as it's depicted in western media and applies Japanese aesthetics to it. It's a dim-witted but aggressive Smash Mook with a single horn on its head. Unlike its two-eyed counterparts, which are human in origin, One-Eyed Onis are believed to be the personifications of bestial mountain gods and spirits.
  • Pocket Mortys: Cyclops Morty, the evolved form of One Eye Morty, has a single giant eye, orange skin, large pointed ears and fangs.
  • Realm of the Mad God: The Cyclops God is a high level quest monster. It fights with a club, wants to eat the players, and wears a loincloth.
  • Titan Quest: Polyphemus the cyclops from the Odyssey appears as a boss. You also meet some other cyclopes while ascending Mount Olympus. One last one is shown turned to stone prior to the fight with the Gorgon Sisters. Finally, a duo of cyclopes named Brontes and Steropes are bosses in a sidequest of Act IV in Hades. All of them are massive reddish humanoids armed with stone clubs and capable of attacking with stone-shattering shockwaves and stunning howls. They were classified as Magical Beasts before Ragnarök, which classified them as Giants.
  • A Total War Saga: TROY: In Truth Behind the Myth mode, cyclopes are pirates who use dwarf elephant skulls as helms and wield maces tipped with ram skulls, implied to be the distant source of myths about a monstrous, cyclopean son of the sea god who lived on a distant island and reared sheep. In Mythos Mode, they are instead the classical one-eyed giants, clad in rags adorned with human bones.
  • Warcraft III: The Stonemaul Ogres invoke the image, being huge one-eyed brutes that only respect strength. Why they have one head and one eye when regular Warcraft ogres have two heads (one with two eyes and one with one) isn't explained.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: Cyclopses are Ogroid monsters native to the Skellige Isles (which is home to various other monsters inspired by Greek Mythology including Harpies, Sirens and Ekhidnas). They're Smash Mooks who fight with their fists and with Shockwave Stomps, hitting hard but telegraphing their attacks. Their entry in the bestiary includes a quote from a traveller named Odess Thaka who was killed while trying to blind a cyclops with a sharpened stake, as a Shout-Out to Polyphemus from The Odyssey.
  • Zork I has a giant, man-eating cyclops guarding the thief's lair. One of the ways to get past it draws on Classical Mythology — saying "Odysseus" or "Ulysses" will terrify it into fleeing.

    Webcomics 
  • GastroPhobia: A villainous sorcerer has a miniature cyclops as his familiar (which looks like the classical cyclops, but is about the size of a human child). The sorcerer does make it grow into the traditional giant size so it can fight Gastro—but he transforms it into a "biclops" in the process, which has twice as many eyes and is therefore twice as dangerous. The biclops is still distinct from a regular giant because its eyes are arranged vertically, rather than horizontally.
  • Homestuck:
    • Giclopses are enemies encountered in the Medium. They resemble bestial giants with stout, wide-footed legs, short tails, three-fingered hands and wide, flattened heads dominated by a single eye beneath a prominent ridge of bone and with a short row of spikes over their domes. They're only encountered briefly, but are shown to be much tougher than other foes encountered up to that point.
    • Sollux's lusus is a two-headed cyclops, with each head having a single eye (one solid red and the other solid blue) and a single horn, which is referred to as a "biclops".

    Western Animation 
  • Xiaolin Showdown has a cyclops whose design is based on the one from the Classical Mythology. He's giant-sized, physically strong and dim-witted, but he also has some unique powers, such as the ability to fire laser beams from his eye.

 
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Brontes the Thunderer

An actual Cyclops, sealed within the isle of Thisvi.

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