Damasen

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In Greek mythology, Damasen (Ancient Greek: Δαμασην derived from damazô or damasô "to subdue") was a Lydian giant son of Gaia[1][2] and was nursed by Eris ("discord")[3].

Mythology[edit]

In Dionysiaca by the epic poet Nonnus recounted the birth of Damasen in the following lines:

". . . Damasen, a gigantic son of Earth, whom his mother once conceived of herself and brought forth by herself. From his birth, a thick hairy beard covered his chin. At his birth. Quarrel was his nurse, spears his mother's pap, carnage his bath, the corselet his swaddlings. Under the heavy weight of those long broad limbs, a warlike babe, he cast lances as a boy; touching the sky, from birth he shook a spear born with him; no sooner did he appear than Eileithyia armed the nursling with a shield."[4]

When the hero Tylon or Tylus (‘knot’ or ‘phallus’), was fatally bitten in the heel by a poisonous serpent, his sister Moera (‘fate’) appealed to the Damasen (‘subduer’).

"So Moria watching afar saw her brother's murderer; the nymph trembled with fear when she beheld the serried ranks of poisonous teeth, and the garland of death wrapt round his neck. Wailing loudly beside the dragonvittling den, she met Damasen . . ."[5]
"This was he [i.e. Damasen] whom the nymph beheld on the fertile slope of the woodland. She bowed weeping before him in prayer, and pointed to the horrible reptile, her brother's murderer, and Tylos newly mangled and still breathing in the dust."[6]

The giant granted the girl's wish and avenged Tylos by killing the monster.

"The Giant did not reject her prayer, that monstrous champion; but he seized a tree and tore it up from its roots in mother earth, then stood and came sidelong upon the ravening dragon. The coiling champion fought him in serpent fashion, hissing battle from the wartrumpet of his throat, a fiftyfurlong serpent coil upon coil. With two circles he bound first Damasen's feet, madly whipping his writhing coils about his body, and opened the gates of his raging teeth to show a mad chasm: rolling his wild eyes, breathing death, he shot watery spurts from his lips, and spat into the giant's face fountains of poison in showers from his jaws, and sent a long spout of yellow foam out of his teeth. He darted up straight and danced over the giant's highcrested head, while the movement of his body made the earth quake.
But the terrible giant shook his great limbs like mountains, and threw off the weight of the serpent's long spine. His hand whirled aloft his weapon, shooting straight like a missile the great tree with all its leaves, and brought down the plant roots and all upon the serpent's head, where the backbone joins it at the narrow part of the rounded neck. Then the tree took root again, and the serpent lay on the ground immovable, a coiling corpse."[7]

Another serpent, a female one, then fetched ‘the flower of Zeus’ from the woods, and laid it on the lips of its dead mate, which came to life again.

"Suddenly the female serpent his mate came coiling up, scraping the ground with her undulating train, and crept about seeking for her misshapen husband, like a woman who missed her husband dead. She wound her long trailing spine with all speed among the tall rocks, hurrying towards the herbdecked hillside; in the coppice she plucked the flower of Zeus with her snaky jaws, and brought back the painkilling herb in her lips, dropt the antidote of death into the dry nostril of the horrible dead, and gave life with the flower to the stark poisonous corpse. The body moved of itself and shuddered; part of it still had no life, another part stirred, half-restored the body shook another part and the tail moved of itself; breath came again through the cold jaws, slowly the throat opened and the familiar sound came out, pouring the same long hiss again. At last the serpent moved, and disappeared into his furtive hole."[8]

Moera followed this example and similarly restored to life Tylus with the help of a life-giving herb.

"Moria also caught up the flower of Zeus, and laid the lifegiving herb in the lifebegetting nostril. The wholesome plant with its painhealing clusters brought back the breathing soul into the dead body and made it rise again. Soul came into body the second time; the cold frame grew warm with the help of the inward fire. The body, busy again with the beginning of life, moved the sole of the right foot, rose upon the left and stood firmly based on both feet, like a man lying in bed who shakes the sleep from his eyes in the morning. His blood boiled again; the hands of the newly breathing corpse were lifted, the body recovered its rhythm, the feet their movement, the eyes their sight, and the lips their voice."[9]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 25.453 & 486
  2. ^ Graves, Robert (1960). The Greek Myths. Harmondsworth, London, England: Penguin Books. pp. s.v. The Children of Pasiphae. ISBN 978-0143106715.
  3. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 25.489
  4. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 25.486-494 This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.'
  5. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 25.481-486 This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.'
  6. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 25.495-498 This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.'
  7. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 25.499-521 This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.'
  8. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 25.521-538 This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.'
  9. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 25.539-552 This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.'

References[edit]