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#140309 02/27/05 09:41 AM
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I have read Joseph Campbell only in excerpts, but what I've read is consistent in getting across archetypes that are common to various cultures.

My kids are studying excerpts from the Odyssey, and I have wondered for a long time now what the Cyclops themselves could have represented on a spiritual or archetypal level. Why one eye? They are a group without rule, each one of them being a law unto himself with no higher law. Could the single eye somehow represent this? A limited point of view? All solo?

Just wondering...


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FWIW, Robert Graves thought the whole one-eye thang was because they wore eyepatches, being blacksmiths and all, to keep sparks out of their eyes. Cyclops means (most likely) round-eye.


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well totally non architypal, i read, that the early greek had seen skeletons of elephants (before they ever saw an elephant alive) and mistook the large front nasal cavity for an eye socket and 'constructed' the cyclops myth from that. (they had evidence of some large animal, that had mythical powers, never have seen one, and with only the skull to judge.. came up with cyclops.. (there is the same sort of evidence about 'griffens'--you can google and--there was an article in the early 1990's in archiology magazine about how mythical griffens might have been constructed out of fossilized evidence(of a dinosaur)

elephant aren't found (naturally) north of sahara, and african elephants don't lend themselves to domestication anyway, so the closet elephant that could be domesticated would have been indian.. (and pretty far away.)

there are large game animals who's existance was thought to be fabled until the modern exploration of the interior of africa (ie, late 1800/early 1900's.


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As a retired teacher with 35 years behind me and a zillion meetings attended from 1958 to 2008, I have come to appreciate the wisdom of Joseph Campbell and I post this prose-poem written as a quasi-eulogy for/to him.-Ron Price,Australia
-----------------------
ZONES

"Each individual," write Joseph Campbell, "is the centre of a mythology of his own, of which his own intelligble character is the Incarnate God, so to say, whom his empirically questing consciousness is to find."1 For Baha'is, it seems to me, this Incarnate God is the God within "mighty, powerful and self-subsistent." It is the "know thyself," from Delphi. This centre of mythology is also an unfolding of convictions derived from the effects and expression of experience, the imprintings of infancy and our peculiar and private worlds. This is what Campbell calls our "mythogenic zone." It is our interior life and its communication with others. The poem below explores the negative side of the process across our global society. -Ron Price with thanks to Joseph Campbell, Creative Mythology, Viking Press, 1968, p. 93.

This poetic writing aims
to let the Word resound
behind words1 seemingly
endless words where
my mythogenic zone
is especially informed
by the metaphorical nature
of all of physical reality,
Baha'i history no less
and lived experience.
My innermost need
to express has its place
in my shaping of self
and civilization,
in my particular form
of intoxication.2

And a growing impoverishment
of symbols, spiritual poverty,
symbol-lessness fills the land,
liquidating our past,
with bleak substitutes.
A bland barrenness reaches
all the way to the stars
and history becomes a nightmare
of complex, anarchic confusion,
uninterpreted, unassimilated, alien,
and: a Waste Land fills their place.

1 ibid.,p. 93.
2 Frederick Neitzsche wrote that "for art to exist there is a physiological prerequisite: intoxication." Twilight of the Idols, quoted in Campbell, p.355.

Ron Price
10 February 2002
----------
(updated for Wordsmith.org
21/5/'08)


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 Originally Posted By: of troy
well totally non architypal, i read, that the early greek had seen skeletons of elephants (before they ever saw an elephant alive) and mistook the large front nasal cavity for an eye socket and 'constructed' the cyclops myth from that. (they had evidence of some large animal, that had mythical powers, never have seen one, and with only the skull to judge.. came up with cyclops..

I suppose that's possible of the really early Greeks, however, elephants (of both varieties) were well known to the Greeks, Persians, Carthaginians, Romans and others at least several centuries BC. It seems to me more likely the Cyclops was a literary creation, a fictional monster, rather than a legend pertaining to some real animal.

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Let me throw in the sun and the moon, when viewed in unsettling weather or solar system conditions, as nominees for cyclops eye.

Last edited by morphememedley; 05/22/08 03:30 AM. Reason: prescientific (scientific as in astronomic) settings
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really early Greeks

Homer, or whoever composed the Odyssey, is usually dated to the 9th century BCE.


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 Originally Posted By: morphememedley
Let me throw in the sun and the moon, when viewed in unsettling weather or solar system conditions, as nominees for cyclops eye.


It must have been puzzling a bit that on some days sun and moon are both visible in the sky.

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 Originally Posted By: zmjezhd
really early Greeks

Homer, or whoever composed the Odyssey, is usually dated to the 9th century BCE.

Yes that's why I said it's possible. But, why doesn't Cyclops have large tusks? All the author in question seems to be quoted as claiming is that "some sources" say the Cyclops has [presumably normal sized] tusks. What sources?

Also of course, though it is most likely Homer lived ca 700-900BC we don't know for sure, since the earliest extant Greek manuscripts are around 2,000 years later, ca 10th or 11th century AD. It is certain that Aristotle taught Homer to Alexander the Great in about 343BC, but I don't know whether there are any earlier literary allusions to his works.

It's possible, but I don't think it's possible to know for sure that the legend was based on ancient archaeological finds. I do find the other hypotheses more convincing, however, regardgin the Griffin, etc.

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The Wicked Witch of the West had only one eye...

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