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For the Roman-era writer, see Pomponius Porphyrion.
"Porphyrion" is also a section of the genus Saxifraga.
Zeus (center left) against Porphyrion (far right), detail from the Pergamon Altar Gigantomachy frieze, Pergamon Museum Berlin.

In Greek mythology, Porphyrion (Greek: Πορφυρίων) 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.[1] According to the mythographer Apollodorus, Porphyrion was (along with Alcyoneus), the greatest of the Giants, and during the Gigantomachy, the epic battle between the Giants and the Olympian gods, 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.[2] According to Pindar, who calls him "king of the Giants", he was slain by an arrow from the bow of Apollo.[3]

The fifth century AD poet Nonnus, in his Dionysiaca, has Gaia set the Giants against Dionysus, promising Porphyrion Hebe as his wife if the Giants would subdue Dionysus.[4]

He is named on a sixth century BC black-figure pyxix (Getty 82.AE.26), where he and the Giant Enceladus oppose Zeus, Heracles and Athena,[5] as well as a late fifth century BC red-figure cup from Vulci (Berlin F2531), where he is battling with Zeus.[6] He was also probably named on the Gigantomachy depicted on the north frieze of the Siphnian Treasury at Delphi (c. 525 BC).[7] He was one of the many Giants depicted on the second century BC Pergamon Altar Gigantomachy frieze, where he is shown fighting Zeus.[8]


  1. ^ For the birth of the Gigantes see Hesiod, Theogony 185. Hyginus, Fabulae Preface gives Tartarus as the father of the Giants.
  2. ^ Apollodorus, 1.6.1–2. Compare with Aristophanes, The Birds 1249 ff.: "a single Porphyrion gave him [Zeus] enough to do."
  3. ^ Pindar, Pythian 8.12–18.
  4. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca, 48.6–22 (pp. 424–427).
  5. ^ Beazley Archive 10148 Fragment: Heracles, Athena, horses of Zeus' chariot, Porphyrion and Enceladus.
  6. ^ Beazley Archive 220533: detail showing Zeus v. Porphyrion; Cook, p. 56, Plate VI.
  7. ^ Brinkmann, N22 p.103, which finds traces of "rion"; Stewart, plate 196.
  8. ^ Ridgeway, p. 54 note 35.