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Monstrous Brothers: The Cyclops and Hekatonkheires

You've met the Olympians and the Titans. Now, meet the majorly muscled monsters that helped Zeus and his Olympian siblings secure their victory in the Titanomachy.

 

DISCOVER

A 1st Century CE sculpture of a cyclops head found at the Roman Colosseum

In our last issue of Argo News, we discovered the Titans: the giant children of Ouranos and Gaia. This month, we meet Ouranos and Gaia's other children: the three monstrous Cyclops, and three Hekatonkheires.


As soon as the Cyclops and Hekatonkheires were born, their father Ouranos, could tell how powerful they were. Scared by their strength, he locked them away in Tartaros – a pit in the underworld used as a prison. Eventually, Zeus freed the Cyclops and Hekatonkheires to help fight the Titans.




 
The Cyclops were great metal smiths and worked in the forge of Hephaestus at the centre of the Mount Etna volcano in Italy! Hephaestus, the Greek god of metal smithing was their master. By hammering hot sheets of metal the Cyclops created the armour of heroes and weapons of the gods. The image above is a wall painting c. 1st century CE, found at the ruins of Pompeii, Italy.

Cyclops: The Son of the Anvil

Like the Titans, the three Cyclops are the sons of Ouranos and Gaia. The Cyclops were brutally strong giants with a single eye in the middle of their forehead. In fact, they were named after this! In Greek, 'cyclops’ means ‘round eye.


Born of the same parents, the Cyclops were as strong as the Titans. They were also master blacksmiths.


Their names were Argos, meaning 'vividly bright,' Steropes, meaning 'lightning man' and Brontes, meaning 'thunder man.'


As war between the Titans and Olympians brewed, Gaia, mother of both the Titans and the Cyclops, warned Zeus of the Olympians that he would need the strength of the Cyclops and their brothers if he hoped to defeat the Titans.


After Zeus freed them from the Tartaros, the Cyclops not only fought for Zeus, but also used their master blacksmith skills to forge his most famous weapon: the mighty thunderbolt! They also made a trident for Poseidon and a helmet of invisibility for Hades.


What would you want a Cyclops to make for you?


An illustration of one of the Hekatonkheires by artist Riccardo Gualdi

Hekatonkheires: The Many-Handed Brothers

The Hekatonkheires were three giants who, like the Cyclops, rivalled the Titans in strength and ferocity! Their name means ‘Hundred-Handed Ones’ – and indeed, they had a hundred hands they used to wield clouds, and fifty heads with which they could blow fierce winds.


The three Hekatonkheires named Cottus, Briareus and Gyes fought with the Cyclops and Olympians against the Titans. The defeated Titans were thrown into Tartaros, the same pit where Ouranos had locked away the Cyclops and Hekatonkheires. The Hekatonkheires were then tasked with guarding the Tartaros for eternity, to be sure the Titans would never escape.

 

CREATE

Playdough monster image via arts & crafts website Left Brain Craft Brain

Homemade Monsters

Which monster would you recruit to help you fight the mighty Titans? Design and create your own Hekatonkheires, Cyclops or a monster of your own design, with this recipe for homemade playdough! (Adult help recommended.)


Equipment:

  • A large pot

  • A wooden spoon

  • A mixing bowl

  • Zip lock bags

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup table salt

  • 4 tsp cream of tartar

  • 2 cups lukewarm water

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

  • Food colouring in your colours of choice!

  • Craft items for decoration – googly eyes, feathers, pipe cleaners, and whatever else might help bring your monster to life!

Instructions:

  • In a large pot, combine the flour, salt and cream of tartar.

  • Add water and oil, and stir until combined.

  • With help from an adult, cook this mixture over medium heat. Stir constantly until the dough thickens and begins to form a ball.

  • Remove the dough from the heat and place it in a bowl. Allow it to cool until it's a safe temperature to handle, then knead the dough until smooth.

  • Decide on how many colours of dough you want and divide this number of balls.

  • Place a ball of dough inside a zip lock bag and add 5 drops of food colouring. Close the zip lock bag and knead the dye into the dough. (This prevents your hands from being stained by food colouring!)

  • Repeat until all dough colours are mixed. Use a new bag each time, so any dye left in the bag does not stain the next colour.

  • Your dough is now ready for shaping into monsters and decorating!

  • Use the same zip lock bags to store your dough when not in use. If stored properly, this should keep your dough soft for up to 3 months.


As always, we love to see your creations. If you gave this activity a go, why not get a parent or guardian to share with us on social media? Find us on Facebook.

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