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Etching by Tommaso Piroli after a drawing of John Flaxman
The Hecatonchir Briareos used as an allegory of the multiple threat of labour unrest to Capital in a political cartoon, 1890

The Hecatoncheires[note 1] (stress on the third syllable;[1][2] singular: Hecatoncheir /ˈhɛkəˌtɒŋkər/; Greek: Ἑκατόγχειρες Hekatoncheires "Hundred-Handed Ones"), also called the Centimanes[citation needed] /ˈsɛntˌmnz/ (Latin: Centimani) or Hundred-Handers, were figures in an archaic stage[clarification needed] of Greek mythology, three giants of incredible strength and ferocity that surpassed all of the Titans, whom they helped overthrow. Their name derives from the Greek ἑκατόν (hekaton, "hundred") and χείρ (cheir, "hand"), "each of them having a hundred hands and fifty heads" (Bibliotheca 1.1). Hesiod's Theogony (624, 639, 714, 734–35) reports that the three Hecatoncheires became the guards of the gates of Tartarus. The Hundred-Handed-Ones are "giants" of great storms and hurricanes.

In Virgil's Aeneid (10.566–67), in which Aeneas is likened to one of them (Briareos, known here as Aegaeon), they fought on the side of the Titans rather than the Olympians; in this, Virgil was following the lost Corinthian epic Titanomachy rather than the more familiar account in Hesiod.

Other accounts make Briareos (or Aegaeon) one of the assailants of Olympus. After his defeat, he was buried under Mount Aetna (Callimachus, Hymn to Delos, 141).



According to Hesiod, the Hecatoncheires were children of Gaia (Earth) and Uranus (sky).[3][4] They played no known part in cult.[5] They were:

  • Briareos (Βριάρεως) "Strong",[6] also called Aegaeon (Αἰγαίων), spelled in Latin as "Briareus."[7]
  • Kottos (Κόττος) "Strike, punch".[8]
  • Gyges (Γύγης) or Gyes (Γύης), possibly "Limb" or "Curved."[9]

Soon after they were born, their father Uranus threw them into the depths of Tartarus because he saw them as hideous monsters. In some versions, Uranus saw how ugly the Hecatoncheires were at their birth and pushed them back into Gaia's womb, upsetting Gaia greatly, causing her great pain and setting in motion the overthrow of Uranus by Cronus, who continued their imprisonment in Tartarus.

The Hecatoncheires remained there, guarded by the dragon Campe, until Zeus rescued them, advised by Rhea that they would serve as good allies against Cronus and the Titans. During the War of the Titans, the Hecatoncheires fought against the Titans, throwing rocks as big as mountains, one hundred at a time, and overwhelming them. After this, the Hecatoncheires became the guards of Tartarus. Briareos became the son-in-law of Poseidon, who gave him "Kymopoliea his daughter to wed."[10]


In a Corinthian myth related in the second century CE to Pausanias, Briareos was the arbitrator in a dispute between Poseidon and Helios, between sea and sun: he adjudged the Isthmus of Corinth to belong to Poseidon and the acropolis of Corinth (Acrocorinth) sacred to Helios.[11]


Scholia (manuscript notes) on Apollonius of Rhodes represent Aegaeon as a son of Gaea and Pontos, the Sea, ruling the fabulous Aegaea in Euboea, an enemy of Poseidon and the inventor of warships.[12] In Ovid's Metamorphoses and in Philostratus' Life of Apollonius of Tyana he is a marine deity.[13]

In popular culture[edit]

  • In the Iliad (Book 1) by Homer, translated by Butler, Achilles asks his mother to appeal to Zeus on account of a previous interaction with Briareus, or Aegaeon.
  • In Gargantua and Pantagruel it is mentioned that a waiter needs as many hands as "Briareus".[14]
  • Briareos is mentioned twice in Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy; he is first found as a giant inhabiting the ninth circle of Hell[15] and then again as an example of pride, carved into the pavement of the first terrace of Purgatory.[16]
  • The giant is also mentioned in Cervantes' Don Quixote, in the famous episode of the windmills.
  • The roleplaying game Exalted features hekatonkhires as the congealed nightmares of the slain Primordials.
  • In the Epic Level Handbook for the 3rd edition of Dungeons & Dragons, the Hekatonkheires are ancient creatures from before the shapes of races were set. Like in the original mythology, they were sealed away and are only released when gods intend to overthrow other gods. Each time they are released, they succeed in their task.
  • Briareos is mentioned in Book I of John Milton's Paradise Lost alongside Typhon as an analogue to the fallen Satan.
  • Briareos is mentioned in The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, by Henry Fielding, in a conversation between Tom Jones and Mr. Partridge (Book 8, Chapter IX).
  • In Don Juan (Canto VI), Byron makes a slightly crude joke, musing whether "enviable Briareus ... with thy hands and heads ... hads't all things multiplied in proportion" (this thought arising from Byron's assertion of his love of all womankind in the previous canto).
  • Briareos Hecatonchires is also a character in the anime and manga Appleseed, where he plays a human who has been transformed into a Hecatoncheir cyborg body, which also allows him to remotely control 100 systems. This is one of the many references to Greek mythology in the series, including Cottus (another cyborg) and Gyges (the brand name of a robot-shaped vehicle).
  • Briareos (spelled as "Briares") appears in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians novel The Battle of the Labyrinth. He was imprisoned in a part of the Labyrinth that corresponds to Alcatraz and again guarded by Kampe. His brothers had faded when no one remembered them, causing him to give up hope and refuse the chance to escape his prison. He eventually overcomes his despair and fights against the Titans again after helping to defeat Kampe. Briares fought in the First Titan War, and recalls it in The Battle of the Labyrinth.
  • In the Outlaw Star episode "Gravity Jailbreak", Hecatoncheir is the name of the planet home to a high gravity prison which Gene Starwind must escape from.
  • In the Ghost in the Shell episode "Decoy", many-handed robots were referenced by Ishikawa using the name "Hecatoncheires". However, in the original Japanese, it is heputonkeiru ("heptoncheires"), meaning "seven hands".
  • In Dan Simmons' Olympos, the god Hephaestos tells Achilles that the monster Setebos was called "Briareos" by the Olympian gods and "Aegaeon" by the early humans.
  • In The Rise of Endymion by the same author, two of the Technocore's android assassins are given the names of Gyges and Briareus.
  • Composer Iannis Xenakis has a cello solo-piece entitled Kottos (1977).
  • In the video game Final Fantasy XIII, Hecatoncheir is the Eidolon (summon) of the character Vanille.
  • In both video games Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation and Ace Combat Infinity, the Heavy Command Cruiser and its escorts are named Aegaeon, Kottos and Gyges for the Hecatonkheires of the same names.
  • In the God of War comic series, Gyges appears as the final enemy who was trying to revive his brothers Briareos and Cottus using the Ambrosia of Asclepius. He is killed by the protagonist Kratos.
  • In God of War: Ascension, the Hecatoncheir Aegaeon (which was an alias of Briareos) is transformed into the giant Prison of the Damned by the Furies after he broke his oath to Zeus as mentioned in the game's intro. Megaera used her parasites to control the parts of Aegaeon. He is slain by Kratos, ending his suffering.
  • In the PlayStation 2 video game Rygar: The Legendary Adventure, Hekatonchieres is the first boss fight players encounter, though the boss itself does not match the traditional description. Instead, it is an amorphous creature that encased itself in a shell created from the stone statues of a soldier, a horse, and a typical bearded god-like figure.
  • In the video game Age of Mythology: The Titans, they are represented by the unit "Heka Gigantes". They are depicted with only one head and four arms.
  • In the PlayStation 2 video game Persona 3: FES, players can attain Hecatoncheires as a Persona of the Hanged Man Arcana.
  • In the Magic: The Gathering expansion Theros, based on Greek mythology, there is a card named Hundred-Handed One, a reference to the Hecatonkheires.[17]
  • In Akame ga Kill!, the name of Seryu Ubiquitous' Imperial Relic is Hekatonkheires.
  • In Monday Begins on Saturday, the Hekatonkheires are normally kept in a reinforced cave behind iron bars. They are stated to be clumsy enough to break or dislocate a finger while picking a nose.
  • In the Fear saga by Stephen Moss, Hekaton is Earth's new moon. It is an asteroid pulled into Earth's orbit to function as a source of materials to build battleships against Man's interstellar foe, the Mobiliei.
  • In DC Comics comic book Injustice: Gods Among Us (Year Four) appear a monster called Hecatonchire.
  • In the light novel The Ending Chronicle, Hecatoncheires is the name of the combat-oriented automatons of 3rd-Gear.
  • In the online action video game Closers Online, Hecatoncheir was the wisest and strongest general of the Unknown Legion/Dimensional Monsters also the former leader of the Dragon Army in one of the known Dimensional Wars. Now remains as skeleton, he is buried under the safe haven of New Seoul.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Depending on the method of transliteration, the Ancient Greek ἑκατόν (hekaton) may be latinised as hecaton and χείρ (cheir) may be transliterated as kheir, chir or even khir.


  1. ^ Howatson, M.C. (2013). "Hecatoncheiʹres". The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature. Oxford University Press. p. 277. 
  2. ^ Bulfinch, Thomas (1902). "Hec-atonchiʹres". The Classic Myths in English Literature. Ginn & Co. p. 508. 
  3. ^ Hesiod calls them the "Ouranids" (Theogony 502).
  4. ^ A scholia on Apollonius Rhodius 1.1165c notes "Eumelos in the Titanomachy says that Aegaeon was the son of Earth and Sea, lived in the sea, and fought on the side of the Titans"; noted in M.L. West "'Eumelos': A Corinthian Epic Cycle?" The Journal of Hellenic Studies 122 (2002, pp. 109–133) p 111.
  5. ^ Kerenyi 1951:19
  6. ^ Liddell, Scott & Jones, A Greek–English Lexicon, sv.Βριάρεως & βριαρός
  7. ^ See Virgil, Aeneid 6.287: "et centumgeminus Briareus ac belua Lernae"
  8. ^ Liddell, Scott & Jones, A Greek–English Lexicon, sv. κόσσος
  9. ^ Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Ancient Greek, sv.γύης
  10. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 817.
  11. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece 2.1.6 and 2.4.7
  12. ^ Apollonius, Argonautica 1,1165
  13. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses 2.10; Philostratus, Life of Apollonius 4.6
  14. ^ Rabelais, Francois (1955). "5". Gargantua and Pantagruel. Great Britain: Penguin Classics. p. 50. ISBN 014044047X. 
  15. ^ Dante, Inferno XXXI.99
  16. ^ Dante, Puragtorio XII.28
  17. ^ Ethan FleischerMonday, September 02, 2013 (2013-09-02). "An Even-Handed Tale : Daily MTG : Magic: The Gathering". Wizards.com. Retrieved 2016-04-04.