Yesterday, I discussed the ancient Greek belief that the massive stone ruins left behind by the Mycenaeans were in fact the work of the Cyclopes and how this belief parallels the (early) ancient astronaut theory's refusal to attribute ancient buildings to mere human construction. (In the last few years, many ancient astronaut theorists have stopped claiming aliens were active builders rather than mere celestial architects.)
Interestingly, Pausanias' bit of myth-mongering about the Cyclopean origin of Mycenaean ruins has an interesting echo down the centuries that led directly to the ancient astronaut theory. In the nineteenth century, Theosophy asserted that aliens beings from Venus came to earth to rule over incipient humanity. According to Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater in Man: Whence, How, and Whither (1913), the Cyclopes were in fact the very aliens from Venus! Apparently, the souls of the aliens incarnated as the "fourth sub-race" of earth (they used mind-transference, of course) and had a "third eye" in their heads which gradually evolved away:
"The fourth sub-race continued, the very egg-headed one, with a stature of from twenty-four to twenty-seven feet in height, loosely and clumsily built, and black in colour; one whom we measured was twenty-five feet in height. [...] During the long period thus occupied, the physical appearance of the Lemurians was changing. The central eye at the top of the head was retreating, as it ceased to function, from the surface to the interior of the head, to form the pineal gland, while the two eyes—at first one on each side of it—were becoming active. The Greek legend of Cyclops is evidently a tradition from the early Lemurian age."
By a neat trick, Theosophists managed to transform Pausanias' ignorant attribution of ancient ruins to mythological beings as support for a grandious (and equally fictive) alien invasion.
And as should be obvious, the Theosophical claptrap about alien visitors, lost continents, and ancient ruins was appropriated wholesale by modern ancient astronaut theorists and alternative historians. However, by the time we get to Erich von Daniken's Odyssey of the Gods (2000), he chooses to read the Cyclopes not as primitive creatures controlled by the projected minds of Venusians but instead as genetically-engineered creatures (altered in their PAX-6 genes, no less!) made by the aliens. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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