Mythological Creatures: Orcs & Cyclopes

Which would you rather be: A one-eyed metalworker? Or cannibal? 😛 Today’s mythological creatures talk is on Cyclopes and Orcs. Enjoy. 😛



In short, Cyclopes are moody giant-like creatures who have only one eye and are skilled mason-workers. Yeah, I didn’t know about the skilled mason-worker thing, either. Cyclopes tend to live in caves and the most famous cyclops was Polyphemus, who lived on an island.

Cyclopes arise mostly from Greek mythology, but it’s also rumored that, because they were so great at the forges, the name arose from blacksmiths who used to wear an eyepatch over one eye to prevent getting singed by flying sparks in both eyes. Seems a little sketchy to me…but makes for a good story. 😉

Only the first generation of cyclopes were metal workers. The second generation of cyclopes were known to be shepherds, which of course ate their sheep (oh, and people.) According to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, cyclopes also loved to eat satyrs and tend to fall in love with sea nymphs.


Books with cyclopes in them:

  • Percy Jackson & the Olympians, by Rick Riordan
  • Odyssey, by Homer



Sometimes I wonder who will be the next author to invent a mythological creature. Orcs, as far as we can tell, were pretty much thought up by J. R. R. Tolkien. They’re similar to goblins, so that may have been where he took some of his inspiration. Orcs look similar to humans, but are smaller and they sport fangs with green, grey, black, brown, or red skin.



Characteristics of orcs:

  • Mainly bred as warriors. This is their purpose for existence and they desire nothing else.
  • They are cannibals, as well as carnivores.
  • They are cowards
  • They tend to ride boars, wolves, or wargs for transportation. Not horses.
  • They can survive (for a limited time) large wounds that would normally kill a human.

The word orc is derived from latin, which means “underworld.” Though Tolkien was the first to really use them in depth, orcs were also present in several 17th century fairytales. What is probably most interesting about orcs (and most commonly seen in Lord of the Rings) is that orcs are guided by a “guiding will” of a master. They will do that master’s bidding without considering rebellion or disobedience, and they will do it passionately. (Think zombies, but with a master… Creepy!)

Books/movies/games with orcs in them:

  • Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The Inheritance Cycle Series, by Christopher Paolini
  • Dungeons & Draons
  • Beowulf



Okay, if you had to go to battle against one, which would you choose: cyclops or orc?

2 Responses to Mythological Creatures: Orcs & Cyclopes

  1. Matthew Eng November 26, 2015 at 11:28 pm #

    If it was merely against one opponent, I’d probably have to chose an orc, especially if the cyclops was a giant. Even hobbits have killed orcs from time to time!

  2. Pam Halter December 4, 2015 at 4:42 am #

    I’d have to go with a Cyclops because Sinbad fought one and won. He got it really mad and then threw a spear into its eye. Much easier to run away from a blind enemy. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *