In Greek mythology, Enceladus was one of the Giants, the offspring of Gaia (Earth), and Tartarus (Sky). Enceladus was the traditional opponent of Athena during the Gigantomachy, the war between the Giants and the gods, and was said to be buried under Mount Etna in Sicily.
Enceladus was one of the Gigantes (Giants), who according to Hesiod, were the offspring of Gaia, born from the blood that fell when Uranus (Sky) was castrated by their son Cronus. The Giants fought Zeus and the other Olympian gods in the Gigantomachy, their epic battle for control of the cosmos. A Giant named Enceladus, fighting Athena, is attested in art as early as an Attic Black-figure pot dating from the second quarter of the sixth century BC (Louvre E732). In literature, references to the Giant occur as early as the plays of the fifth century BC Greek tragedian Euripides, where, for example, in Euripides' Ion the chorus describes seeing on the late sixth century Temple of Apollo at Delphi, Athena "brandishing her gorgon shield against Enceladus".
The third century BC poet Callimachus has Enceladus buried under the island of Sicily, and according to the mythographer Apollodorus, Athena hurled the island of Sicily at the fleeing Enceladus during the Gigantomachy. Both Virgil and Claudian locate his burial under Mount Etna, although other traditions had the monster Typhon or the Hundred-Hander Briareus buried under Etna. For others Enceladus was instead buried in Italy.
The second century AD geographer Pausanias reports that a Tegean statue of Athena was called "Horse goddess" because according to a local account Athena "drove the chariot and horses against Enceladus". Although usually opposed by Athena, the comic epic Batrachomyomachia ("Battle of Frogs and Mice") and Virgil's Aeneid have Enceladus being struck down by Zeus. Claudian calls Enceladus "all powerful king of the Earth-born giants".
Cause of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes
Enceladus (like other vanquished monsters, thought to be buried under volcanos) was said to be the cause of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Mount Etna's eruptions were said to be the breath of Enceladus, and its tremors to be caused by him rolling over from side to side beneath the mountain. So, for example Virgil:
- Enceladus, his body lightning-scarred,
- lies prisoned under all, so runs the tale:
- o'er him gigantic Aetna breathes in fire
- from crack and seam; and if he haply turn
- to change his wearied side, Trinacria's isle
- trembles and moans, and thick fumes mantle heaven.
- In the midst of the island rise the charred cliffs of Aetna, eloquent monument of Jove’s victory over the Giants, the tomb of Enceladus, whose bound and bruisèd body breathes forth endless sulphur clouds from its burning wounds. Whene’er his rebellious shoulders shift their burden to the right or left, the island is shaken from its foundations and the walls of tottering cities sway this way and that.
The battle between Athena and Enceladus was a popular theme in Greek vase paintings, with examples from as early as the middle of the sixth century BC. We know, from the description given in Euripides' Ion, that the battle was depicted on the late sixth century BC Temple of Apollo at Delphi.
The east pediment of the Old Temple of Athena on the Acropolis of Athens, dating from the late sixth century, prominently displayed Athena standing over a fallen giant, possibly Enceladus. The battle was probably also depicted on the new peplos (robe) presented to Athena on the Acropolis of Athens as part of the Panathenaic festival.
The fifth century AD Greek poet Nonnus, in his poem Dionysiaca, mentions Enceladus as one of the several Giants that Dionysus battles in the Gigantomachy. Nonnus has Gaia set the Giants against Dionysus, promising Enceladus Athena as his wife should the Giants subdue Dionysus. Dionysus fought Enceladus with fire, but Enceladus was ultimately defeated by Zeus:
- [Dionysus] roasted the Giants' bodies with a great conflagration, an image on earth of the thunderbolt cast by Zeus. The torches blazed: fire was rolling all over the head of Encelados and making the air hot, but it did not vanquish him—Encalados bent not his knee in the steam of the eartly fire, since he was reserved for a thunderbolt.
In later art and literature
At Versailles, Louis XIV's consistent iconographic theme of the triumphs of Apollo and the Olympians against all adversaries included the fountain of Enceladus in its own cabinet de verdure, which was cut into the surrounding woodland and outlined by trelliswork; the ensemble has recently been restored (illustration). According to an engraving of the fountain by Le Pautre (1677), the sculptor of the gilt-bronze Enceladus was Gaspar Mercy of Cambrai.
William Shakespeare mentions "Enceladus" in Titus Andronicus, Act 4, sc. 2, L 96. "I tell you younglings, not Enceladus." (Folger Shakespeare Library – Titus Andronicus, page 136-137, copyright 2005).
Enceladus, a moon of the planet Saturn, is named after the mythological Enceladus. Its south pole is interspersed with massive geysers of ice and water vapor that shoot hundreds of miles from its interior. The moon is considered by scientists to be one of the most likely locations in the Solar System to offer some habitability potential for microscopic life.
One of two surviving Short Belfast military transport aircraft is dubbed "Enceladus".
- Beazley Archive 200059, LIMC Gigantes 342.
- For the birth of the Gigantes see Hesiod, Theogony 185. Hyginus, Fabulae Preface gives Tartarus as the father of the Giants.
- Apollodorus, 1.6.1.
- Gantz, pp. 450–451; Beazley 14590, LIMC Gigantes 170.
- Euripides, Ion 205–218. See also Euripides, Heracles 908.
- Callimachus, fragment 117 (382), pp. 342–343.
- Apollodorus, 1.6.2. See also Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica (or Fall of Troy), 14.632–636.
- Virgil, Aeneid 3.578 ff. with Conington's note to 3.578; Claudian, Rape of Proserpine 1.153–159 (pp. 304–305); 3.186–187 (pp. 358–359).
- For Typhon, see Pindar, Pythian 1.15–29; Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 353–374; Apollodorus, 1.6.3; Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 2.23 ff.; Ovid, Metamorphoses 5.346 ff. (which has Typhon buried under all of Sicily, with his left and right hands under Pelorus and Pachynus, his feet under Lilybaeus, and his head under Etna); Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 5.16; Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 2.17.5. For Briareus see Callimachus, Hymn 4 (to Delos) 141–146, pp. 96–97; Mineur, p. 153
- Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 2.17.5.
- Pausanias, 8.47.1.
- Cook 1925, p. 909; Batrachomyomachia 277–283 (pp. 560–561); Virgil, Aeneid 3.578 ff.. See also Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica (or Fall of Troy), 5.742–745 and 14.632–636 where Enceladus is struck by Zeus and buried under Sicily by Athena.
- Claudian, Rape of Proserpine 3.351 (pp. 370–371). However Apollodorus 1.6.1 has Porphyrion and Alcyoneus as the two most preeminent Giants, while Pindar, Pythian 8.12–18 has the Giant Porphyrion, and Homer, Odyssey 7.56–63 has the Giant Eurymedon, as king.
- Euripides, Cyclops 1–9.
- Besides Mount Etna, Typhon was also said to be buried under the volcanic island of Ischia the largest of the Phlegraean Islands off the coast of Naples, see Lycophron, Alexandra 688–693, pp. 550–551; Virgil, Aeneid 9.710 (calling the island "Inarime"); Strabo, 5.4.9 (calling the island "Pithecussae"); Ridgeway, pp. 35–36; Silius Italicus, Punica 8.540; Claudian, Rape of Proserpine 3.183–184 (pp. 358–359). Prochyte, another one of the volcanic Phlegraean Islands was supposed to sit atop the Giant Mimas (Silius Italicus, Punica 12.143 ff, which also has Iapetus buried under Inarime). Under Mount Vesuvius lay the Giant Alcyoneus (Claudian, Rape of Proserpine 3.183–184 (pp. 358–359)), while Philostratus, On Heroes 8.15–16, remarks on local tales of "many giants" buried there. The Titan Atlas was identified with the volcano Mount Atlas and the Atlas Mountains, Plumptre, p. 129, note 1. See also Cook 1940, note 5, pp. 2–6; Durling, p. 495, note to Canto 31.108 "Ephialtes suddenly shook himself"; Lemprière p. 456 "MYCŎNOS"; Andrews, p. 81.
- Lazaridou-Varotsos, p. 42.
- Virgil, Aeneid 3.570–587.
- Claudian, Rape of Proserpine 1.153–159 (pp. 304–305).
- Beazley Archive 303466.
- Woodard, p. 301; Frazer, note to Pausanias 8.47.5 "Enceladus", Vol. IV pp. 431, 432; Ely, p. 69.
- Sixth century examples include: Louvre E732 (Beazley Archive 14590, LIMC Gigantes 170 image 4/4 [Athena and Enceladus]), Getty 82.AE.26 (Beazley Archive 10148: Fragment: Heracles, Athena, horses of Zeus' chariot, Porphyrion and Enceladus.]), Lourve CA3662 (Beazley Archive 200059, LIMC Gigantes 342), Munich 1612 (Beazley Archive 303466), Cleveland 78.59 (Beazley Archive 5168, Perseus Cleveland 78.59 (Vase)). Fifth century examples include: Berlin F2531 (Beazley Archive 220533: detail showing Athena v. Enceladus, Cook 1940, p. 56, Plate VI); Cleveland 78.59 (Beazley Archive 5168; Perseus Cleveland 78.59 (Vase)). See also Ely, FIG. I, and p. 67 ff. and Tillyard, pp. 34–35, no. 26, Plate 3, no. 26.
- Stewart, pp. 86–87.
- Schefold, pp. 64–67; Weller p. 315.
- Parker p. 201; Boardman, p. 137; Frazer, Vol. II p. 576 note 2.
- Nonnus, Dionysiaca 25.90 (II, pp. 256–257); 48.70 (III, pp. 428–429).
- Nonnus, Dionysiaca 48.22 (III, pp. 426–427).
- Nonnus, Dionysiaca 48.67–70 (III, pp. 428–429).
- "Encelade de bronze dorée, accablé sous des rochers, et poussant en l'air un gros jet d'eau. / Dans les Jardins de Versailles. / Par Gaspar Mercy de Cambray. // Enceladus ex aere aurato, saxis obrutus, ingentem aquae vim ore euomens. / In hortis Versaliarum. / Opus Gasparis de Mercy Cameracensis." 
- Keats, J. (1909). The poems of John Keats. Dodd, Mead and co. p. 221. Retrieved 2014-10-15.
- Erik Kielland-Lund, "Existential Incest: Melville's Use of the Enceladus Myth in Pierre", American Studies in Scandinavia 28:1:52 (1996) full text
- Horace Elisha Scudder, ed., The complete poetical works of Longfellow p. 201
- "Cassini Images of Enceladus Suggest Geysers Erupt Liquid Water at the Moon’s South Pole". Retrieved 2006-03-22.
- Mosher, Dave (26 March 2014). "Seeds of Life Found Near Saturn". Space.com. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
- "Cassini Tastes Organic Material at Saturn's Geyser Moon". NASA. 26 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-26.
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