This article examines a number of cases in ancient literature in which a visually impaired individual is equated with the Cyclopes: such an individual might be one-eyed, blind in one or both eyes, or simply have poor eyesight. It suggests several reasons why these mythological figures were utilized in this way and seeks to explain what, precisely, the individuals making these allusions were aiming to accomplish. It seems likely that it was Polyphemus rather than any of antiquity’s other Cyclopes that was intended, and while it could have been his single eye that was the prime motivator, it is notable that he is portrayed in different ways before and after his blinding by Odysseus, and aspects of these portrayals could also have been relevant when insulting the visually impaired.

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