Giants (Greek mythology)
In Greek mythology, the Giants or Gigantes (Greek: Γίγαντες, Gigantes, singular Gigas) were a race of great strength and aggression, though not necessarily of great size, known for the Gigantomachy (Gigantomachia), their battle with the Olympian gods. According to Hesiod, the Giants were the offspring of Gaia (Earth), born from the blood that fell when Uranus (Sky) was castrated by their Titan son Kronos.
Archaic and Classical representations show Gigantes as man-sized hoplites (heavily-armed ancient Greek foot soldiers) fully human in form. Later representations (after c. 380 BC) show Gigantes with snakes for legs. In later traditions, the Giants were often confused with other opponents of the Olympians, particularly the Titans, an earlier generation of large and powerful children of Gaia and Uranus.
The vanquished Giants were said to be buried under volcanos, and to be the cause of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
- 1 Origins
- 2 Confusion with Titans and others
- 3 Descriptions
- 4 The Gigantomachy
- 5 Symbolism, meaning and interpretations
- 6 Association with volcanoes and earthquakes
- 7 Named Giants
- 8 In popular culture
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
- 12 External links
The name "Gigantes" is usually taken to imply "earthborn", and Hesiod's Theogony makes this explicit by having the Giants be the offspring of Gaia (Earth). According to Hesiod, Gaia mating with Uranus bore many children: the first generation of Titans, the Cyclopes and the Hundred-Handers. But Uranus hated his children and, as soon as they were born, he imprisoned them inside of Gaia, causing her much distress. And so Gaia made a sickle of adamant which she gave to Cronus, the youngest of her Titan sons, and hid him (presumably still inside Gaia's body) to wait in ambush. And when Uranus came to lie with Gaia, Cronus castrated his father, and "the bloody drops that gushed forth [Gaia] received, and as the seasons moved round she bore ... the great Giants." From these same drops of blood also came the Erinyes (Furies) and the Meliai (ash tree nymphs), while the severed genitals of Uranus falling into the sea resulted in a white foam from which Aphrodite grew. The mythographer Apollodorus also has the Giants being the offspring of Gaia and Uranus, though he makes no connection with Uranus' castration, saying simply that Gaia "vexed on account of the Titans, brought forth the Giants".
There are three brief mentions of Gigantes in Homer's Odyssey, though it's not entirely clear that Homer and Hesiod understood the term to mean the same thing. Homer has Giants among the ancestors of the Phaiakians, a race of men encountered by Odysseus, their ruler Alcinous being the son of Nausithous, who was the son of Poseidon and Periboea, the daughter of the Giant king Eurymedon. Elsewhere in the Odyssey, Alcinous says that the Phaiakians, like the Cyclopes and the Giants, are "near kin" to the gods. And Odysseus describes the Laestrygonians (another race encountered by Odysseus in his travels) as more like Giants than men. Pausanias, the 2nd century AD geographer, read these lines of the Odyssey to mean that, for Homer, the Giants were a race of mortal men.
The 6th–5th century lyric poet Bacchylides calls the Giants "sons of the Earth". Later the term "gegeneis" ("earthborn") became a common epithet of the Giants. Hyginus has the Giants being the offspring of Gaia and Tartarus, another primordial Greek deity.
Confusion with Titans and others
Though distinct in early traditions, Hellenistic and later writers often confused or conflated the Giants and their Gigantomachy, with an earlier set of offspring of Gaia and Uranus, the Titans and their war with the Olympian gods, the Titanomachy. This confusion extended to other opponents of the Olympians, including the huge monster Typhon (another offspring of Gaia) whom Zeus finally defeated with his thunderbolt, and the Aloadae, the large, strong and aggressive brothers Otus and Ephialtes, who piled Pelion on top of Ossa in order to scale the heavens and attack the Olympians (though in the case of Ephialtes there was probably a Giant with the same name). For example the first century Latin writer Hyginus, includes the names of three Titans: Coeus, Iapetus, and Astraeus, along with Typhon and the Aloadae, in his list of Giants, and Ovid, seems to conflate the Gigantomachy with the later siege of Olympus by the Aloadae.
Homer describes the Giant king Eurymedon as "great-hearted" (μεγαλήτορος), and his people as "insolent" (ὑπερθύμοισι) and "froward" (ἀτάσθαλος). Hesiod calls the Giants "strong" (κρατερῶν) and "great" (μεγάλους) which may or may not be a reference to their size. Though a possible later addition, the Theogony also has the Giants born "with gleaming armour, holding long spears in their hands".
Bacchylides calls the Giants arrogant saying that they were destroyed by hybris (hubris, or over-confidence). The seventh century BC poet Alcman (fragment 1 PMGF) probably also used the Giants as an example of hybris, with the phrases "vengeance of the gods" and "they suffered unforgettable punishments for the evil they did" being possible references to the Gigantomachy.
Homer's comparison of the Giants to the Laestrygonians is suggestive of similarities between the two races. The Laestrygonians, who "hurled ... rocks huge as a man could lift", certainly possessed great strength, and possibly great size, as their king's wife is described as being as big as a mountain.
Over time, descriptions of the Giants make them less human, more monstrous and more "gigantic". According to Apollodorus the Giants had great size and strength, a frightening appearance, with long hair and beards and scaly feet. Ovid makes them "serpent-footed" with a "hundred arms", and Nonnus has them "serpent-haired".
The most important divine struggle in Greek mythology was the Gigantomachy, the battle fought between the Giants and the Olympian gods for supremacy of the cosmos. It is primarily for this battle that the Giants are known, and its importance to Greek culture is attested by the frequent depiction of the Gigantomachy in Greek art.
The references to the Gigantomachy, in archaic sources are sparse. Neither Homer nor Hesiod mention anything about the Giants battling the gods. Homer's remark that Eurymedon "brought destruction on his froward people" might possibly be a reference to the Gigantomachy and Hesiod's remark that Heracles performed a "great work among the immortals" is probably a reference to Heracles' crucial role in the gods' victory over the Giants. The Hesiodic Catalogue of Women (or the Ehoia) refers to Heracles having slain "presumptious Giants". And another probable reference to the Gigantomachy in the Catalogue has Zeus produce Heracles to be "a protector against ruin for gods and men".
There are indications that there might have been a lost epic poem, a Gigantomachia, which gave an account of the war: Hesiod's Theogony says that the Muses sing of the Giants, and the sixth century BC poet Xenophanes mentions the Gigantomachy as a subject to be avoided at table. The Apollonius scholia refers to a "Gigantomachia" in which the Titan Cronus (as a horse) sires the centaur Chiron by mating with Philyra (the daughter of two Titans), but the scholiast may be confusing the Titans and Giants.
The late sixth early fifth century BC lyric poet Pindar provides some of the earliest details of the battle between the Giants and the Olympians. He locates it "on the plain of Phlegra" and has Teiresias foretell Heracles killing Giants "beneath [his] rushing arrows". He calls Heracles "you who subdued the Giants", and has Porphyrion, who he calls "the king of the Giants", being overcome by the bow of Apollo. Euripides' Heracles has its hero shooting Giants with arrows, and his Ion has the chorus describe seeing a depiction of the Gigantomachy on the late sixth century Temple of Apollo at Delphi, with Athena fighting the Giant Enceladus with her "gorgon shield", Zeus burning the Giant Mimas with his "mighty thunderbolt, blazing at both ends", and Dionysus killing an unnamed Giant with his "ivy staff".
The most detailed account of the Gigantomachy is that of the (first century or second century AD) mythographer Apollodorus. None of the early sources give any reasons for the war. Scholia to Iliad 14 mention the rape of Hera by the Giant Eurymedon (possibly the incident being referred to in Odyssey 7) and according to scholia to Pindar's Isthmian 6, it was the theft of the cattle of Helios by the Giant Alcyoneus that started the war. But Apollodorus, who also mentions the theft of Helios' cattle by Alcyoneus, suggests a mother's revenge as the motive for the war, saying that Gaia bore the Giants because of her anger over the Titans (who had been vanquished and imprisoned by the Olympians). And seemingly, as soon as the Giants are born they begin hurling "rocks and burning oaks at the sky".
There was a prophecy that the Giants could not be killed by the gods alone, but they could be killed with the help of a mortal. Hearing this, Gaia sought for a certain plant (pharmakon) that would protect the Giants. But before Gaia or anyone else could find this plant, Zeus forbade Eos (Dawn), Selene (Moon) and Helios (Sun) to shine, and harvested all of the plant himself, then he had Athena summon Heracles.
According to Apollodorus, Alcyoneus and Porphyrion were the two strongest Giants. Heracles shot Alcyoneus, who fell to the ground but then revived, for Alcyoneus was immortal within his native land. So Heracles, with Athena's advice, dragged him beyond the borders of that land, where Alcyoneus then died (compare with Antaeus). Porphyrion attacked Heracles and Hera, but Zeus caused Porphyrion to become enamoured of Hera, whom Porphyrion then tried to rape, but Zeus struck Porphyrion with his thunderbolt and Heracles killed him with an arrow.
Other Giants and their fates are mentioned by Apollodorus. Ephialtes was blinded by an arrow from Apollo in his left eye, and another arrow from Heracles in his right. Eurytus was killed by Dionysus with his thyrsus, Clytius by Hecate with her torches, and Mimas, by Hephaestus with "missiles of red-hot metal" from his forge. Athena crushed Enceladus under the Island of Sicily and flayed Pallas, using his skin as a shield. Poseidon broke off a piece of the island of Kos called Nisyros, and threw it on top of Polybotes. (Strabo also relates the story of Polybotes buried under Nisyros, but adds that some say Polybotes lies under Kos instead.) Hermes, wearing Hades' helmet, killed Hippolytus, Artemis killed Gration, and the Moirai (Fates) killed Agrius and Thoas with bronze clubs. All the rest were "destroyed" by thunderbolts thrown by Zeus, with each Giant being shot with arrows by Heracles (as the prophecy seemingly required).
Various places have been associated with the Giants and the Gigantomachy. As noted above Pindar has the battle occur at Phlegra ("the place of burning"), as do other early sources. Phlegra was said to be an ancient name for Pallene (modern Kassandra), and Phlegra/Pallene was the usual birthplace of the Giants and site of the battle. Apollodorus, who placed the battle at Pallene, says the Giants were born "as some say, in Phlegrae, but according to others in Pallene". But the name Phlegra and the Gigantomachy were also often associated, by later writers, with a plain in Italy, west of Naples and east of Cumae, called the Phlegraean Fields. And at least one tradition placed Phlegra in Thessaly.
According to the geographer Pausanias, the Arcadians claimed that battle took place "not at Pellene in Thrace", but in the plain of Megalopolis where "rises up fire". Another tradition apparently placed the battle at Tartessus in Spain. Diodorus Siculus presents a war with multiple battles, with one at Pallene, one on the Phlegraean Fields, and one on Crete. Strabo mentions an account of Heracles battling Giants at Phanagoria a Greek colony on the shores of the Black Sea. Even when, as in Apollodorus, the battle starts at one place, Individual battles between Giant and god might range farther afield, with Enceladus buried beneath Sicily, and Polybotes under the island of Nisyros (or Kos).
The presence of volcanic phenomena, and the frequent unearthing of the fossilized bones of large prehistoric animals throughout these locations may explain why such sites became associated with the Giants.
Sixth century BC
From the sixth century BC onwards, the Gigantomachy was a popular and important theme in Greek art. Over six hundred surviving depictions of the Gigantomachy are cataloged in the Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC).
The Gigantomachy was depicted on the new peplos (robe) presented every year to Athena on the Acropolis of Athens as part of the Panathenaic festival celebrating her victory over the Giants, a practice dating from perhaps as early as the second millennium BC. The earliest extant representations of Gigantes are found on votive pinakes from Corinth and Eleusis, and Attic black-figure pots, dating from the second quarter of the sixth century BC (this excludes early depictions of Zeus battling single snake-footed creatures, which probably represent his battle with Typhon, as well as Zeus' opponent on the west pediment of the Temple of Artemis on Kerkyra (modern Corfu) which is probably not a Giant).
Though all the early Attic vases are fragmentary, the many common features in their depictions of the Gigantomachy suggest that a common model or template was used as a prototype, possibly Athena's peplos. These vases depict large battles, including most of the Olympians. There is a central group containing Zeus, Heracles and Athena attacking Giants to the right. Zeus mounts a chariot brandishing his thunderbolt in his right hand, Heracles, in the chariot, bends forward with drawn bow and left foot on the chariot pole, Athena, beside the chariot, strides forward toward one or two Giants, and the four chariot horses trample a fallen Giant. In three early examples, Gaia also appears in the central group, shielded behind Herakles, apparently pleading with Zeus to spare her children.
On either side of the central group are found the rest of the gods engaged in combat with particular Giants. While the gods can be identified by characteristic features, for example Hermes with his hat (petasos) and Dionysus his ivy crown, the Giants are not individually characterized and can only be identified by inscriptions which sometimes name the Giant. The fragments of one vase from this early period name five Giants: Pankrates against Heracles, Polybotes against Zeus, Oranion against Dionysus, Euboios and Euphorbos fallen and Ephialtes (Getty 81.AE.211). Also named, on two other of these early vases, are Aristaeus battling Hephaestus (Akropolis 607), and Eurymedon and (again) Ephialtes (Akropolis 2134). An amphora from Caere from later in the sixth century, gives the names of more Giants: Hyperbios and Agasthenes (along with Ephialtes) fighting Zeus, Harpolykos against Hera, Enceladus against Athena and (again) Polybotes, who in this case battles Poseidon (with trident) holding the island of Nisyros on his shoulder (Louvre E732). This motif of Poseidon holding the island of Nisyros, ready to hurl it at his opponent, is another frequent feature of these early Gigantomachies.
The Gigantomachy was also a popular theme in late sixth century sculpture. The most comprehensive treatment is found on the north frieze of the Siphnian Treasury at Delphi (c. 525 BC), with more than thirty figures, named by inscription. From left to right, these include Hephaestus (with bellows), two females fighting two Giants; Dionysus striding toward an advancing Giant; Themis in a chariot drawn by a team of lions which are attacking a fleeing Giant; the archers Apollo and Artemis; another fleeing Giant (Tharos or possibly Kantharos); the Giant Ephialtes lying on the ground; and a group of three Giants, which include Hyperphas and Alektos, opposing Apollo and Artemis. Next comes a missing central section presumably containing Zeus, and possibly Heracles, with chariot (only parts of a team of horses remain). To the right of this comes a female stabbing her spear at a fallen Giant (probably Porphyrion); Athena fighting Eriktypos and a second Giant; a male stepping over the fallen Astarias to attack Biatas and another Giant; and Hermes against two Giants. Then follows a gap which probably contained Poseidon; and finally on the far right, a male fighting two Giants, one fallen, the other the Giant Mimon (possibly the same as the Giant Mimas mentioned by Apollodorus).
The Gigantomachy also appeared on several other late sixth century buildings, including the west pediment of the Alkmeonid Temple of Apollo at Delphi, the pediment of the Megarian Treasury at Olympia, the east pediment of the Old Temple of Athena on the Acropolis of Athens, and the metopes of Temple F at Selinous.
Fifth century BC
The theme continued to be popular in the fifth century BC. A particularly fine example is found on a red-figure cup (c. 490–485 BC) by the Brygos Painter (Berlin F2293). On one side of the cup is the same central group of gods (minus Gaia) as described above: Zeus wielding his thunderbolt, stepping into a quadriga, Heracles with lion skin (behind the chariot rather than in it) drawing his (unseen) bow, and ahead Athena thrusting her spear into a fallen Giant. On the other side are Hephaestus flinging flaming missiles of red-hot metal from two pairs of tongs, Poseidon, with Nisyros on his shoulder, stabbing a fallen Giant with his trident, and Hermes with his petasos hanging in back of his head, attacking another fallen Giant. None of the Giants are named.
Phidias used the theme for the metopes of the east facade of the Parthenon (c. 445 BC) and for the interior of the shield of Athena Parthenos. Phidias' work perhaps marks the beginning of a change in the way the Giants are presented. While previously the Giants had been portrayed as typical hoplite warriors armed with the usual helmets, shields, spears and swords, in the later part of the fifth century the Giants begin to be depicted as less handsome in appearance, primitive and wild, clothed in animal skins or naked, often without armor, and using boulders as weapons. A series of red-figure pots from c. 400 BC, which may have used Phidas' shield of Athena Parthenos as their model, show the Olympians fighting from above and the Giants fighting with large stones from below.
Fourth century BC and later
With the beginning of the fourth century BC comes the first portrayal of the Giants as anything other than fully human in form, with legs that become coiled serpents with snake heads at the end. This motif becomes the standard for the rest of antiquity, culminating in the Gigantomachy frieze of the second century BC Pergamon Altar, where the theme receives its most extensive treatment, with around a hundred figures.
Symbolism, meaning and interpretations
Historically, the myth of the Gigantomachy (and the Titanomachy) may reflect the "triumph" of the new imported gods of the invading Greek speaking peoples from the north (c. 2000 BC) over the old gods of the existing peoples of the Greek peninsula. For the Greeks, the Gigantomachy represented a victory for order over chaos—the victory of the divine order and rationalism of the Olympian gods over the discord and excessive violence of the earth-born chthonic Giants. More specifically, for sixth and fifth century BC Greeks, it represented a victory for civilization over barbarism, and as such was used by Phidias on the metopes of the Parthenon and the shield of Athena Parthenos to symbolize the victory of the Athenians over the Persians. Later the Attalids similarly used the Gigantomachy on the Pergamon Altar to symbolize their victory over the Galatians of Asia Minor.
The attempt of the Giants to overthrow the Olympians also represented the ultimate example of hybris, with the gods themselves punishing the Giants for their arrogant challenge to the gods' divine authority. The Gigantomachy can also be seen as a continuation of the struggle between Gaia (Mother Earth) and Uranus (Father Sky), and thus as part of the primal opposition between female and male. Plato compares the Gigantomachy to a philosophical dispute about existence, wherein the materialist philosophers, who believe that only physical things exist, like the Giants, wish to "drag down everything from heaven and the invisible to earth".
In Latin literature, in which the Giants, the Titans, Typhon, and the Aloadae, are all often conflated, Gigantomachy imagery is a frequent occurrence. Cicero, while urging the acceptance of aging and death as natural and inevitable, allegorizes the Gigantomachy as "fighting against Nature". The rationalist Epicurean poet Lucretius, for whom such things as lightning, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions had natural rather than divine causes, used the Gigantomachy to celebrate the victory of philosophy over mythology and superstition. In the triumph of science and reason over traditional religious belief, the Gigantomachy symbolized for him Epicurus storming heaven. In a reversal of their usual meaning, he represents the Giants as heroic rebels against the tyranny of Olympus. Virgil—reversing Lucretius' reversal— restores the conventional meaning, making the Giants once again enemies of order and civilization. Horace makes use of this same meaning to symbolize the victory of Augustus at the Battle of Actium as a victory for the civilized West over the barbaric East.
Ovid, in his Metamorphoses, describes mankind's moral decline through the ages of gold, silver, bronze and iron, and presents the Gigantomachy as a part of that same descent from natural order into chaos. Lucan, in his Pharsalia, which contains many Gigantomachy references, makes the Gorgon's gaze turn the Giants into mountains. Valerius Flaccus, in his Argonautica, makes frequent use of Gigantomachy imagery, with the Argo (the world's first ship) constituting a Gigantomachy-like offense against natural law, and example of hubristic excess.
Claudian, the fifth-century AD court poet of emperor Honorius, composed a Gigantomachia that viewed the battle as a metaphor for vast geomorphic change: "The puissant company of the giants confounds all differences between things; islands abandon the deep; mountains lie hidden in the sea. Many a river is left dry or has altered its ancient course....robbed of her mountains Earth sank into level plains, parted among her own sons."
Association with volcanoes and earthquakes
Various locations associated with the Giants and the Gigantomachy were areas of volcanic and seismic activity (e.g. the Phlegraean Fields west of Naples), and the vanquished Gigantes (along with other "giants") were said to be buried under volcanos, and their subterranean movements were said to be the cause of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
The Giant Enceladus was thought to lay buried under Mount Etna, the volcano's eruptions being the breath of Enceladus, and its tremors caused by the Giant rolling over from side to side beneath the mountain. (The monster Typhon and the Hundred-hander Briareus were also said to be buried under Etna.) The Giant Alcyoneus along with "many giants" were said to lie under Mount Vesuvius, and Prochyte (modern Procida), one of the volcanic Phlegraean Islands was supposed to sit atop the Giant Mimas.
Describing the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, which buried the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, Cassius Dio relates accounts of the appearance of many Giant-like creatures on the mountain and in the surrounding area followed by violent earthquakes and the final cataclysmic eruption, saying "some thought that the Giants were rising again in revolt (for at this time also many of their forms could be discerned in the smoke and, moreover, a sound as of trumpets was heard)"
Some of the Giants identified by name are:
- Agrius: According to Apollodorus, he was killed by the Moirai (Fates) with bronze clubs.
- Alcyoneus: According to Apollodorus, he was (along with Porphyrion), the greatest of the Giants; immortal while fighting in his native land, he was dragged from his homeland and killed by Heracles. According to Pindar, he was a herdsman, and in a separate battle from the Gigantomachy was killed by Heracles and Telamon, while they were traveling through Phlegra. Representations of Heracles fighting Alcyoneus are found on many sixth century BC and later works of art.
- Aristaeus: According to the Suda, he was the only Giant to "survive". He Is probably named on an Attic black-figure dinos by Lydos (Akropolis 607) dating from the second quarter of the sixth century BC, fighting Hephaestus.
- Clytius: According to Apollodorus, he was killed by Hecate with her torches.
- Enceladus: Euripides has Athena fighting him with her Aegis. According to Apollodorus, he was crushed by Athena under the Island of Sicily. Virgil has him struck by Zeus' lighting bolt. Both Virgil and Claudian have him buried under Mount Etna, while other traditions had Typhon or Briareus buried under Etna. For others he was instead buried in Italy.
- Ephialtes (probably different from the brother of Otus who was also named Ephialtes): According to Apollodorus he was blinded by arrows from Apollo and Heracles. He is named on three Attic black-figure pots (Akropolis 2134, Getty 81.AE.211, Louvre E732) dating from the second quarter of the sixth century BC, and the late sixth century BC Siphnian Treasury, and probably as well on what might be the earliest representation of the Gigantomachy, a pinax fragment from Eleusis (Eleusis 349). He is also named on a late fifth century BC cup from Vulci (Berlin F2531), shown battling Apollo. Although the usual opponent of Poseidon among the Giants is Polybotes, one early fifth century red-figure krater (Vienna 688) has Poseidon attacking Ephialtes.
- Euryalus: He is named on a late sixth century red-figure cup (Akropolis 2.211) and an early fifth century red-figure cup (British Museum E 47) fighting Hephaestos.
- Eurymedon: According to Homer, he was a king of the Giants and father of Periboea (mother of Nausithous, king of the Phaeacians, by Poseidon), who "brought destruction on his froward people". He was possibly the Eurymedon who raped Hera producing Prometheus as offspring. He is mentioned by the Latin poet Propertius as an opponent of Jove. He is probably named on Akropolis 2134.
- Eurytus: According to Apollodorus, he was killed by Dionysus with his thyrsus.
- Gration: According to Apollodorus, he was killed by Artemis.
- Hippolytus: According to Apollodorus, he was killed by Hermes, who was wearing Hades' helmet, which made its wearer invisible.
- Lion: He is mentioned by Photius (as ascribed to Ptolemy Hephaestion) as having been challenged to single combat by Heracles and killed. Lion-headed Giants are shown on the The Gigantomachy frieze of the Pergamon Altar.
- Mimas (Mimon): According to Apollodorus, he was killed by Hephaestus. Euripides has Zeus burning him "to ashes" with his thunderbolt. According to others he was killed by Ares. "Mimos"—possibly in error for "Mimas"—is inscribed (retrograde) on Akropolis 607. He was said to be buried under Prochyte. Mimas is possibly the same as the Giant named Mimon on the late sixth century BC Siphnian Treasury, as well as on a late fifth century BC cup from Vulci (Berlin F2531) shown fighting Ares.
- Pallas: According to Apollodorus, he was flayed by Athena, who used his skin as a shield.
- Pelorus: According to Claudian, he was killed by Mars, the Roman equivalent of Ares.
- Picolous was the Gigas who attempted to capture Circe but was slain by Helios. His blood brought forth the moly plant.
- Polybotes: According to Apollodorus, he was crushed under Nisyros, a piece of the island of Kos broken off and thrown by Poseidon. He is named on two sixth century BC pots, on one (Getty 81.AE.211) he is opposed by Zeus, on the other (Louvre E732) he is opposed by Poseidon carrying Nisyros on his shoulder.
- Porphyrion: According to Apollodorus, he was (along with Alcyoneus), the greatest of the Giants, he attacked Heracles and Hera but Zeus "smote him with a thunderbolt, and Hercules shot him dead with an arrow." According to Pindar, who calls him "king of the Giants", he was slain by an arrow from the bow of Apollo. He is named on a late fifth century BC cup from Vulci (Berlin F2531), where he is battling with Zeus. He was also probably named on the late sixth century BC Siphnian Treasury.
- Thoas (also called Thoon): According to Apollodorus, he was killed by the Moirai (Fates) with bronze clubs.
In popular culture
The giants are featured in Rick Riordan's The Heroes of Olympus series of novels, the sequel series to Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Riordan makes a number of notable changes to the concept of the giants, including classifying the brothers Otus and Ephialtes as part of their number. The giants are further identified in this series as the offspring of the pairing of Gaia and Tartarus, who in the series is an actual living being whose massive organism makes up the realm adjacent to the Underworld. Each giant (with Otus and Ephialtes forming a pair) was also born specifically to counter a particular Olympian god. These gods so far are Hephaestus (Mimas), Artemis and Apollo (Orion), Hermes (Hippolytos) Ares (Damasen), Athena (Enceladus), Dionysus (Otus and Ephialtes), Hades (Alcyoneus), Hecate (Clytius), The Three Fates (Thoon) Poseidon (Polybotes), and Zeus (Porphyrion). Born after the Titans, the giants were previously defeated by the gods but in modern times make a resurgence following Kronos' second defeat. Their rise-and the imminent reawakening of their mother Gaea-forces the Greek/Roman gods to unite their demigod offspring in order to save the world.
- Beazley Archive 204546; Cook, Plate III, A.
- Hansen, pp. 177–179; Gantz, pp. 445–454.
- Hesiod, Theogony 185. Hyginus, Fabulae Preface gives Tartarus as the father of the Giants. A parallel to the Giants' birth is the birth of Aphrodite from the similarly fertilized sea.
- Gantz, pp. 446, 447.
- Gantz, p. 453; Hammond, "Giants".
- Hard, p. 86; Gantz, p. 16; Merry, Homer's Odyssey 7.59; Douglas Harper mentions that a Pre-Greek origin has also been proposed ("giant". Online Etymology Dictionary).
- Hesiod, Theogony 132–153
- Hesiod, Theogony 154–175; Gantz, p. 10.
- Hesiod, Theogony 176 ff.
- Apollodorus, 1.6.1; Hansen, p. 178.
- Gantz, p. 446.
- Homer, Odyssey 7.56–63. Alcaeus and Acusilaus make the Phaiakians, like the Giants, offspring of the castration of Uranus, Gantz, p. 16.
- Homer, Odyssey 7.199–207.
- Homer, Odyssey 10.119–120.
- Pausanias, 8.29.1–4. Smith, "Gigantes" and Hammond, "Giants", following Pausanias, both assert that, for Homer, the Giants were a "savage race of men". For the mythographer Diodorus Siculus, the Giants were also a race of men, see 4.21.5, Gantz, p. 449.
- Bacchylides, 15.63; Castriota, pp. 233–234.
- "Gegeneis", Brills New Pauly; Crusius, p.93; Batrachomyomachia 7 (pp. 542–543); Sophocles, Women of Trachis 1058; Euripides, The Phoenician Women 1131; Lycophron, Alexandra 127, pp. 504–505, 1408, pp. 610–611.
- Hyginus, Fabulae Preface.
- Gantz, p. 450.
- Smith, "Gigantes"; Gantz, p. 447; Hansen p. 178, Grimal, p. 171; Tripp, p. 250; Morford, pp. 82–83. A probable early confusion, (or at least a possible cause of later confusion) can be seen in Euripides' Iphigenia in Tauris 221–224 and Hecuba 466–474, see Torrance, p. 155, note 74.
- Gantz, pp. 450–451.
- Hyginus, Fabulae Preface.
- Hansen, p. 178; Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.151–162. See also Horace, Odes 3.4.42 ff., with Lyne p. 51.
- Homer, Odyssey 7.58–60. The translations given are A.T. Murray's. Richard Lattimore translates ὑπερθύμοισι as "high-hearted" and ἀτάσθαλος as "recklessly daring". See also Liddell and Scott, μεγαλήτωρ ("greathearted"), ὑπέρθυμος ("overweening"), and ἀτάσθαλος ("reckless, presumptuous, wicked").
- Hesiod, Theogony 50, 185; Liddell and Scott κρατερός, μέγας; Hansen, p. 177.
- Gantz, p. 446.
- Bacchylides, 15.50 ff.; Castriota, p. 139, pp. 233–234.
- Cairns, p. 310; Wilkinson, p. 142.
- According to Gantz, p 446: "In all, the account rather suggests that the huge bulk of Antiphates' wife is not typical of the Laistrygones as a whole. But they are clearly thought of as good-sized, although whether it is in this respect that they are like the Gigantes and unlike men we cannot say; the Odyssey's emphasis might be thought to fall more on their uncivilized behjavior"
- Apollodorus, 1.6.1.
- Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.182 ff.; Newlands, p. 81. Here Ovid has apparently conflated the Giants with the Hundred-Handers: Anderson, p. 170. Compare with Fasti 5.35–42, where Ovid says "Earth brought forth the Giants, a fierce brood, enormous monsters, who durst assault Jove's mansion; she gave them a thousand hands, and snakes for legs".
- Nonnus, Dionysiaca 1.18.
- Beazley Archive 200059, LIMC Gigantes 342.
- Moore, p. 21.
- Gantz, p. 15.
- Gantz, p. 446.
- A scholion to Odyssey 7.59 asserts that Homer does not know that the Giants fought against the gods, Gantz, p. 447.
- Hesiod, Theogony 954; for the translation used here see Most 2006, p. 79.
- Gantz, p. 446.
- Hesiod fragment 43a.65 MW, Most 2007, p. 143. Gantz, p. 446, says that this line "with no link to what precedes or follows, might easily be an interpolation".
- Hesiod fragment 195.28–29 MW, Most 2007, p. 5; Gantz, p. 446.
- Hesiod, Theogony 50–52.
- Xenophanes, 1.21 (Lesher, pp. 12, 13); Gantz, p. 446.
- Since Chiron did apparently figure in a lost poem about the Titanomachy, and there is no obvious role for the centaur in a poem about the Gigantomachy, see Gantz, p. 447.
- Pindar, Nemean 1.67–69.
- Pindar, Nemean 7.90.
- Pindar, Pythian 8.12–18.
- Euripides, Heracles 177–180.
- Euripides, Ion 205–218.
- Beazley Archive 207774.
- Tripp, p. 252.
- Apollodorus, 1.6.1–2.
- Gantz, pp. 419, 448–449.
- According to Apollodorus, Alcyoneus stole Helios' cattle from Erytheia, where the cattle of Geryon are usually found.
- Gantz, p. 449; Grimal, p. 171; Tripp, p. 251. The late 4th century AD Latin poet Claudian expands on this notion in his Gigantomachia 14–35 (pp. 280–283) with Gaia urging the Giants to war saying "Up, army of avengers, the hour is come at last, free the Titans from their chains; defend your mother." (27–28)
- Compare with Hesiod, Theogony 185–186 which seems to have the Giants born, like Athena and the Spartoi, fully grown and armed for battle (Apollodorus, 1.3.6, 1.3.6). Also compare with Plato, Sophist 246a, where comparing materialist philosophers with the Giants, says they "drag down everything from heaven and the invisible to earth, actually grasping rocks and trees with their hands".
- Compare with Pindar, Nemean 1.67–69 (mentioned above) where Teiresias prophesies that Heracles will aid the gods in their battle with the Giants.
- Antaeus, another offspring of Gaia who was an opponent of Heracles, was immortal as long as he was in contact with the earth. Heracles killed Antaeus by crushing him while holding him off the ground. For Pindar, Hearacles' battle with Alcyoneus (whom he calls a herdsman) and the Gigantomachy were separate events, see: Isthmian 6.30–35, Nemean 4.24–30.
- As noted above Pindar has Apollo kill Porphyrion.
- As noted above, Euripides has Zeus kill Mimas; other accounts have Mimas killed by Ares: Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica 3.1225–7; Claudian, Gigantomachia 85–91 (pp. 286–287).
- Strabo, 10.5.16.
- Singleton, p. 235.
- Aeschylus, Eumenides 294; Euripides, Heracles 1192–1194; Aristophanes, The Birds 824; Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica 3.232–234, 3.1225–7. See also Hesiod fragment 43a.65 MW (Most 2007, p. 143, Gantz, p. 446).
- Herodotus, 7.123.1; Strabo, 7 Fragment 25, 27; Stephanus Byzantius, s.v. Παλλήνη (Hunter p. 81), Φλέγρα; Liddell and Scott, Φλέγρα;
- Gantz, p. 419; Frazer (Vol IV), note to Pausanias 8.29.1 "the legendary battle of the gods and the giants" pp. 314–315; Lycophron, Alexandra 115–127 pp. 504–505, 1356–1358, pp. 606–607, 1404–1408, pp. 610–611; Diodorus Siculus, 4.15.1; Pausanias, 1.25.2, 8.29.1; AT-scholia to Iliad 15.27 (Hunter p. 81).
- Strabo, 5.4.4, 5.4.6, 6.3.5; Diodorus Siculus, 4.21.5–7, 5.71.4.
- Servius, Commentary on the Aeneid of Vergil 3.578; Leigh p. 122.
- Pausanias, 8.29.1.
- Scholiast A on Iliad 8.479 (Brown, p. 125).
- Diodorus Siculus, 4.15.1, 4.21.5–7, 5.71.2–6.
- Strabo, 11.2.10.
- Mayor, p. 197 ff.; Apollodorus 1.6.1 note 3; Frazer (Vol IV), note to Pausanias 8.29.1 "the legendary battle of the gods and the giants" pp. 314–315; Pausanias, 8.32.5; Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 5.16.
- Schefold, p. 56; Beazley Archive 302261.
- Schefold, p. 51, p. 64; Ogden, p. 82; See also Vian 1951; 1952; Morford, p. 72.
- Barber 1992, pp. 103–117; Barber 1991, pp. 380–381; Schefold, p. 55; Simon, p. 23; Euripides, Hecuba, 466, Iphigenia in Tauris 221–224; Aristophanes, The Knights 565; Plato, Euthyphro 6b–c; Republic 2.378c.
- Gantz, p. 450; Moore, p. 21; Schefold, pp. 51–52; Robertson, pp. 16–17.
- Gantz, pp 450–451; Moore, p. 21; Schefold, p. 55, 57; Beazley, pp. 38–39; Akropolis 607 (Beazley Archive 310147, LIMC Gigantes 105); Akropolis 1632 (Beazley Archive 15673, LIMC Gigantes 110); Akropolis 2134 (Beazley Archive 9922, LIMC Gigantes 106); Akropolis 2211 (Beazley Archive 3363, LIMC Gigantes 104); Getty 81.AE.211 (Beazley Archive 10047, LIMC Gigantes 171).
- Rightward was conventionally the "direction of victory", Schefold, p. 62; Stewart, p. 128.
- Schefold, pp. 56–57; Gantz p. 451; Moore, p. 21
- Moore, p. 28.
- Moore, pp. 30–31.
- Moore, p. 32.
- Moore, pp. 34–36.
- Moore, pp. 34–35.
- Gantz, p. 451; Beazley Archive 14590, LIMC Gigantes 170.
- Gantz, p. 453; Moore, p. 32; Cook, pp. 14–18; Frazer (Vol II), note to Pausanias 1.2.4 "Poseidon on horseback hurling a spear at the giant Polybotes" pp. 48–49.
- Gantz, pp. 451–452; Stewart, pp. 128–129, plates 195–198; Schefold, pp. 59–62; Morford, p. 73; Drawing: J.Boardman, Greek Sculpture Archaic Period fig.212.1; Perseus: Delphi, Siphnian Treasury Frieze--North (Sculpture); LIMC Gigantes 2.
- Brinkmann, N17 p. 101. According to Schefold, p. 62, Themis "appears here in the guise of Kybele".
- Brinkmann, N5 p. 92, reads only Tharos.
- Brinkmann, N6 p. 92, others have read Hypertas.
- Brinkmann, N8 p. 94.
- Possibly Aphrodite, has been identified as Hera, but Brinkmann, p. 94 finds no trace of that name.
- Brinkmann, N22 p. 103, only the thew last four letters: ριον can be read.
- Brinkmann, N10 p. 96; others have read Berektas.
- Brinkmann, N12 p. 103; others have read Astartas.
- Brinkmann, N14 pp. 109, 124–125. The fallen Giant Mimon against Ares is also named on a late fifth century BC cup from Vulci (Berlin F2531): Beazley Archive 220533: detail showing Mimon and Ares; Cook, p. 56, Plate VI.
- Gantz, p. 452. For the Temple of Apollo see: Schefold, p 64; Shapiro, p. 247; Stewart, pp. 86–87; Euripides, Ion 205–218; LIMC Gigantes 3. For the Megarian Treasury see: Pollitt 1990, pp. 22–23; Pausanias, 6.19.12–14; Frazer (Vol IV), note to Pausanias 6.19.12 "The people of Megara — built a treasury" pp 65–67, note to 6.19.13 "In the gable — is wrought in relief the war of the giants" pp 67–69; ASCA Digital Collections, Megarian Treasury. For the Old Temple of Athena see: Schefold, pp. 64–67.
- Cohen, pp. 177–178; Gantz p. 452; Beazley Archive 203909; LIMC Gigantes 303.
- For the Parthenon Gigantomachy metopes see Schwab, pp. 168–173, for the statue of Athena see Lapatin, pp. 262–263, for both see Kleiner, pp. 136—137.
- Dwyer, p. 295; Gantz, pp. 446, 447, 452–453; Hard, p. 90. For an example of a particularly "handsome" Giant see Schefold, p. 67: British Museum E 8 (Beazley Archive 302261, LIMC Gigantes 365 image 1/2), for Giants with animal skins fighting with boulders see a calyx-krater from Ruvo, c. 400: Naples 81521 (Beazley Archive 217517, LIMC Gigantes 316 image 3/5).
- Robertson, pp. 106–107; Dwyer, p. 295; Cook, p. 56; see for example neck amphora c. 400 BC: Lourve S1677 (Beazley Archive 217568, LIMC Gigantes 322), Louvre.
- Ogden, p. 83, Gantz, p. 453; Berlin:PM VI 3375 (Beazley Archive 6987, LIMC Gigantes 389).
- Kleiner, pp. 155–156; Pergamon Altar (LIMC Gigantes 24).
- Morford, pp. 82–83.
- Morford, p. 72; Schefold, p. 50; Kleiner, p. 118, p. 136, p. 156; Lyne, p. 50; Castriota, p. 139; Dwyer, p. 295.
- Castriota, p. 139; Dwyer, p. 295; Gale, p. 121; Wilkinson, p. 142; Cairns, p. 310; Commager, pp. 119, 199.
- Schefold, p. 51.
- Plato, Sophist 246a–c; Chaudhuri, pp.60–61.
- Peck, Gigantes.
- Lovatt, pp. 115 ff..
- Cicero, De Senectute 5; Powell, p. 110 "Gigantum modo bellare"; Chaudhuri, p. 7 note 22.
- Chaudhuri, pp. 58–63; Hardie 2007, p. 116; Gale, pp. 120–121, p. 140; Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 1.62–79, 5.110–125.
- Gale, pp. 140–141; Gee, pp. 56–57.
- Lyne, pp. 52–54, pp. 167–168; Commager, p. 199; Horace, Odes 3.4.42 ff..
- Wheeler, pp. 23–26; Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.151–162.
- Hardie 2014, p. 101.
- Dinter, p. 296; Lucan, Pharsalia 9.654–658.
- Zissos, pp. 79 ff.; For more on the use of Gigantomachy imagery in the Argonautica see Stover, pp. 5–6, 71–73, 79–150.
- Mayor, p. 195; Claudian, Gigantomachia 62–73 (pp. 284–287).
- Andrews, p. 81; Durling, p. 495, note to Canto 31.108 "Ephialtes suddenly shook himself"; Cook, note 5, pp. 2–3; Lemprière p. 456; Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 2.17.5.
- Callimachus, fragment 117 (382), pp. 342–343; Statius, Thebaid 11.8 (pp. 390–391); Aetna (perhaps written by Lucilius Junior), 71–73 (pp. 8–9); Apollodorus, 1.6.2; Virgil, Aeneid 3.578 ff. (with Conington's note to 3.578); Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 5.16; Claudian, Rape of Proserpine 1.153–159 (pp. 304–305); 3.186–187 (pp. 358–359); Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica (or Fall of Troy) 14.632–636. Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 2.17.5 has Enceladus buried in Italy rather than Sicily.
- 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. 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"); Ridgway, pp. 35–36; Silius Italicus, Punica 8.540; Claudian, Rape of Proserpine 3.183–184 (pp. 358–359).
- Callimachus, Hymn 4 (to Delos) 141–146, pp. 96–97; Mineur. p. 153).
- Philostratus, On Heroes 8.15–16; Claudian, Rape of Proserpine 3.183–184 (pp. 358–359).
- Silius Italicus, Punica 12.143 ff, which also has the Titan Iapetus buried under Inarime.
- Cassius Dio 66.22–23.
- Apollodorus, 1.6.2.
- Apollodorus, 1.6.1.
- Pindar, Isthmian 6.30–35, Nemean 4.24–30.
- Gantz, p 420.
- Suda s.v. Ἀρισταῖος, Αἰτναῖος κάνθαρος
- Gantz, p. 451; Beazley, p. 39; Richards, pp. 287, 383; Schefold, p. 57; Beazley Archive 310147; LIMC Gigantes 105: image 13/14.
- Apollodorus, 1.6.2.
- Euripides, Ion 205–218.
- Apollodorus, 1.6.2.
- 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); Typhon: Pindar, Pythian 1.15–29; Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 353–374; Briareus: Callimachus, Hymn to Delos 141 ff.; Mineur. p. 153; see also Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 5.16.
- Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 2.17.5.
- Gantz, 450–451.
- Apollodorus, 1.6.2.
- Gantz, pp. 450–452; Akropolis 2134 (Beazley Archive 9922, LIMC Gigantes 106); Getty 81.AE.211 (Moore, pp. 34–35, Beazley Archive 10047, LIMC Gigantes 171); Louvre E732 (Beazley Archive 14590, LIMC Gigantes 170. For the Siphnian Treasury see LIMC Gigantes 2. For the pinax see Schefold, p. 52, Beazley Archive 1409; Gantz p. 450 notes that the pinax might represent Ares encounter with the Aloadae in Iliad 5.
- Beazley Archive 220533: detail showing Ephialtes with shield and spear v. Apollo with sword and bow; Cook, p. 56, Plate VI.
- Beazley Archive 202916; LIMC Gigantes 361; Cook, pp. 14–18, p. 17 fig. 5).
- Arafat, pp.16, 183, 184; Akropolis 2.211 (Beazley Archive 200125; LIMC Gigantes 299); British Museum E 47 (Beazley Archive 203256; LIMC Gigantes 301).
- Homer, Odyssey 7.54 ff..
- Gantz, pp. 16, 57; Hard, p. 88.
- Propertius, Elegies 3.9.47–48 (pp. 266–267).
- Gantz, p. 451; Akropolis 2134 (Beazley Archive 9922, LIMC Gigantes 106).
- Apollodorus, 1.6.2.
- Apollodorus, 1.6.2.
- Apollodorus, 1.6.2.
- Apollodorus, 1.6.2 note 6; Homer, Iliad 2.5.844 ff.; Hesiod, Shield of Heracles 226 ff..
- Photius, Bibliotheca Codex 190.
- Pollitt 1986, p. 105; Pergamon Altar image viewer.
- Apollodorus, 1.6.2.
- Euripides, Ion 205–218; Stewart, pp. 86–87.
- Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica 3.1225–7; Claudian, Gigantomachia 85–91 (pp. 286–287).
- Beazley, p. 39; Beazley Archive 310147; LIMC Gigantes 105: image 1/14.
- Silius Italicus, Punica 12.143 ff.
- Siphnian Treasury: Brinkmann, N14 pp. 109, 124–125; Vulci cup: Arafat, p. 16; Beazley Archive 220533: detail showing Mimon and Ares; Cook, p. 56, Plate VI.
- Apollodorus, 1.6.2.
- Claudian, Gigantomachia 75–84 (pp. 286–287).
- Rahner, Greek Myths, pg. 204
- Apollodorus, 1.6.2.
- Getty 81.AE.211 (Moore, pp. 30–31, Beazley Archive 10047, LIMC Gigantes 171); Louvre E732 (Gantz, p. 451, Beazley Archive 14590, LIMC Gigantes 170 image 4/4).
- Apollodorus, 1.6.2. Compare with Aristophanes, The Birds 1249 ff.: "a single Porphyrion gave him [Zeus] enough to do."
- Pindar, Pythian 8.12–18.
- Beazley Archive 220533: detail showing Zeus v. Porphyrion; Cook, p. 56, Plate VI.
- Brinkmann, N22 p.103, which finds traces of "rion"; Stewart, plate 196.
- Apollodorus, 1.6.2; Grant, pp. 519–520; Smith "Thoon".
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gigantes.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gigantomachy.|
- Gigantes – Theoi Project
- Gigantomachy: Sculpture & Vase Representations - Wesleyan
- The Siphnian Treasury: The North side of the frieze (The Gigantomachy - Hall V)