In Greek mythology, the Aloadae (//) or Aloads (Ancient Greek: Ἀλωάδαι Aloadai) were Otus (or Otos) (Ὦτος) and Ephialtes (Ἐφιάλτης), sons of Iphimedia, wife of Aloeus, by Poseidon, whom she induced to make her pregnant by going to the seashore and disporting herself in the surf or scooping seawater into her bosom. From Aloeus they received their patronymic, the Aloadae. They were strong and aggressive giants, growing by nine fingers every month nine fathoms tall at age nine, and only outshone in beauty by Orion.
The brothers wanted to storm Mt. Olympus and gain Artemis for Otus and Hera for Ephialtes. Their plan, or construction, of a pile of mountains atop which they would confront the gods is described differently according to the author (including Homer, Virgil, and Ovid), and occasionally changed by translators. Mount Olympus is usually said to be on the bottom mountain, with Mounts Ossa and Pelion upon Ossa as second and third, either respectively or vice versa. Homer says they were killed by Apollo before they had any beards, consistent with their being bound to columns in the Underworld by snakes, with the nymph of the Styx in the form of an owl over them.
According to another version of their struggle against the Olympians, alluded to so briefly that it must have been already familiar to the epic's hearers, they managed to kidnap Ares and hold him in a bronze jar, a storage pithos, for thirteen months, a lunar year. "And that would have been the end of Ares and his appetite for war, if the beautiful Eriboea, the young giants' stepmother, had not told Hermes what they had done," Dione related (Iliad 5.385–391). He was only released when Artemis offered herself to Otus. This made Ephialtes envious and the pair fought. Artemis changed herself into a doe and jumped between them. The Aloadae, not wanting her to get away, threw their spears and simultaneously killed each other.
The Aloadae were bringers of civilization, founding cities and teaching culture to humanity. They were venerated specifically in Naxos and Boeotian Ascra, two cities they founded. Ephialtes (lit. "he who jumps upon") is also the Greek word for "nightmare", and Ephialtes was sometimes considered the daimon of nightmares. In the Inferno of Dante's Divine Comedy Ephialtes is one of four giants placed in the great pit that separates Dis, or the seventh and eighth circles of Hell, from Cocytus, the Ninth Circle. He is chained.
In popular culture
- Ephialtes and Otis appear in The Mark of Athena as two of the main antagonists. In the book, they are one of the Giants, the children of Gaea and Tartarus. They are defeated by their Olympian enemy Bacchus, and the demigods Perseus Jackson and Jason Grace, sons of Poseidon and Jupiter respectively in the Roman Coliseum. In the novel, the Aloadae kidnap the demigod son of Hades, Nico di Angelo and imprison him in a jar, in the same way they captured Ares centuries earlier, and plan to destroy Rome. They are the smallest Giants to appear in the books, described as only being 12 feet tall.
- Odyssey, 11.305–8.
- Bibliotheke 1.7.4.
- Hyginus, Fabulae 28.
- Kerényi, 1951:154.
- Schmitz, Leonhard (1867). "Aloeidae". In William Smith. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology 1. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. pp. 132–133.
- Odyssey 11.319–20.
- It is related in the Iliad by the goddess Dione to her daughter Aphrodite
- Hamilton, Edith (1942). Mythology. New York: Grand Central Publishing. p. 144.
- This mytheme, of the brothers' mutual murder, features in the myth of the mutual killings of Eteocles and Polynices that is recounted in Seven Against Thebes.
- Pausanias 9.29.1.
- Liddel, H.G. & Scott, R. A Greek–English Lexicon, 9th ed. (Oxford, 1940), s.v. ἐφιάλτης
- Kerenyi, Karl (1951). The Gods of the Greeks. pp. 153ff.