Were the Cyclopes not mythical creatures, they would, by now, be strong candidates for compensation. Over the years, the one-eyed forgers of Olympus have received more knocking write-ups than Madonna, Islington Council and Simon Cowell’s dress sense put together. As well as the having one eye, they have been castigated for being strong, prone to moodiness, emotionally retarded and large.
Yet according to Theocritus, the Cyclopes possessed another grotesque feature most Hellenic poets fail to mention. It comes up when Polyphemus, a Cyclops in love, is trying to rationalise why a sea goddess is not that into him: “I know, sweet maiden, why thou art so coy:/ Shaggy and huge, a single eyebrow spans/ From ear to ear o’er my forehead.” Yep, the poor bastards had monobrows.
This morning, à la Polyphemus, I noticed my inter-eyebrow area was being impinged on. Even though I’m never going to monobrow as lushly as Noel Gallagher, nobody wants to be a gejigeji mayuge (centipede eyebrows), as they say in Japan. So I borrowed my sea goddess’s tweezers and did something about it.
Plucking glumly, I wondered, why are monobrows taboo? Why did we turn against them in the first place? If eyebrows are the frames of the face, then a joined-up frame is surely better than a broken one? Theocritus was anti-monobrow 2,400 or so years ago, so it’s a deep-seated prejudice; certainly not one easily fathomable during one desultory pluck. And it’s distracting, too: post-pluck, my right eyebrow is noticeably shorter than my left.