The One-Eyed Monster

Imagine an enormous giant as big as a mountain with a single eye under a bushy eyebrow glittering menacingly. Monsters like this appeared in Greek mythology and were called Cyclopes.

They are supposed to have lived on Mount Etna with Hephaestus, the god of volcanoes. But the fire which Hephaestus represents was. Not destructive but beneficial. It enabled men to work metal.

Hephaestus, therefore, was a divine blacksmith who made fine things and taught men the mechanical arts.

His companions were the mighty Cyclopes, who made the bellows of his furnace roar. Others, raising one by one their heavy hammers, struck significant blows at the molten bronze and iron they drew from the furnace.

The best known among them was Polyphemus, who lived with his friends in isolated caverns: killing and eating any strangers who came near his home.

When Odysseus, the king of Ithaca, was returning from a voyage to Troy, a famous city of legendary Greek history, he and his friends were captured by Polyphemus.

Odysseus did not remain a prisoner for long. He conceived a cunning plan. First, he made the one-eyed monster drunk and then blinded him by plunging a sharpened, burning stake into his single eye. Then the Greek heroes escaped by tying themselves under the bellies of rams. Hidden in this fashion, they ran the cavern where Polyphemus had imprisoned them.

Before this happened, Polyphemus had tried to win the love of Nereid Galatea, a goddess of the sea. Each day he sent her a present of a bear or an elephant.

But Galatea was in love with a shepherd named Acis, the son of a sea maiden. One day, these two lovers were talking in a hollow cave when Polyphemus surprised them.

In a fearful rage, Polyphemus raised an enormous boulder and crushed Acis beneath it. But Acis did not die, for the gods came to his aid and turned him into a river.

Polyphemus was a companion of Hephaestus, the son of Zeus, king of the gods, and Hera. When Hera saw that Hephaestus was lame, stumbled when he walked and had a dislocated hip, she threw him from the heights of Olympus into the sea, where two water nymphs adopted him.

For them, he forged a thousand beautiful objects, but all the time, he was preparing a cunning revenge on his mother, Hera. With great skill and artistry, he made a golden throne, which Hera was delighted to receive one day.

She sat on it with delight, but when she tried to rise, in-visible bands gripped her firmly. Many gods wanted to free her. However, only Hephaestus was able to remove the bars. But he would not leave the ocean depths to do so until he was given the loveliest of goddesses for his bride. From then on, there was peace between Hera and her son.

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