Monday, December 11, 2006

The Eye of Cyclops

I'm reading a book about mutation and at one point the author suggests that early myths of the Cyclops came from folks finding the skulls of elephants and mistaking the opening where the trunk was for a single eye socket. I could certainly see this is a possibility, and I wonder how much of our mythology may have been influenced by such experiences. I've often thought that stories of Dragons and Rocs were probably based on the discovery of dinosaur fossils. I also read recently that the Greeks sometimes found fossils of various types and mistook them for the bodies of gods, which they then rearranged to look more human and reburied.

Humans are imaginative and are natural storytellers. They make up shit all the time. Those of us who are writers should take heart from that fact. What we can do will always be in demand, even if not in the exact form we are used to now. And, thinking about such things, and deliberately trying to incorporate such images in our writing, may be able to help us connect with our readers. I think this may be especially true in fantastic fiction, but any writing could benefit from a dose of mythology.


Basil Ratbane said...

Just so's you know: I am a very clever mutant.

Basil Ratbane

Sidney said...

There is a cool Western called "The Cannibal Owl" by Chad Oliver that involves, I believe, a Mammoth skull that is interpreted as being a mythical creature.