Posted by: gillarbuthnott | May 22, 2019

How a pygmy elephant became a one-eyed giant…

You may have noticed the radio silence over the last week. That’s because I’ve been on holiday in Sicily, which is a truly wonderful place, steeped in the mythology of a number of civilisations.

Image result for mount etna

One of the places I visited was Mount Etna, which according to Sicilians was the place where Odysseus tricked the Cyclops Polyphemus and saved his companions from ending up as the giant’s lunch.

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The Greeks were convinced they had found skulls of a number of Cyclops, and you can see why.

Image result for pygmy elephant sicily skull

However, all was not what it seemed… Far from belonging to giants, these skulls were actually from pygmies: pygmy elephants which had roamed the island in prehistoric times. No one seems quite sure when they actually became extinct on the island.

Image result for sicilian pygmy elephant

No wonder this one looks cheesed off… being misidentified as a mythical one-eyed giant… Harrumph!

But just to add to the confusion, in the mosaics in the Villa Casale, Polyphemus has three eyes, which must be fairly unusual for a cyclops.

Image result for polyphemus villa casale mosaics

It’s all too confusing. I’ll just have to go and catch up on the last 2 episodes of Game of Thrones to relax. I’m sure that’ll be just the thing to ensure a good night’s sleep.


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