Homeric world KARYTENA (Village) GORTYS - GTP - Greek Travel Pages

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Homeric world (4)

Gods & demigods

Giant (Giants)

TRAPEZOUS (Ancient city) GORTYS
Homer mentions in Odyssey that the Giants were mortals and insolents (Od. 7.205-6, 4.59-60). Pausanias mentions that the Giants were thought to be dragonfooted, but this turned out to be false, when a corpse of a giant was found and was of a human shape (Paus. 8,29,3-4).

Gigantes. In Homer the Gigantes are a wild and gigantic race of aborigines, kinsmen of the gods, as are the Cyclopes and Phaeacians. With their king Eurymedon, they are destroyed for their wickedness. Hesiod makes them the sons of Gaea, sprung from the blood of the mutilated Uranus. Neither Hesiod nor Homer knew anything of their struggle with the gods (Gigantomachia), the story of which seems to be a reflection of the myth of the Titans and their contest with the gods, and to be associated with local legends. The two are often confused by later poets. The place of the contest was Phlegra, or the place of burning; and Phlegra was always localized in volcanic regions. In the earlier stories it is on the Macedonian peninsula of Pallene; and in later times on the Phlegraean plains in Campania between Cumae and Capua, or again at Tartessus in Spain. Led on by Alcyoneus and Porphyrion, they hurled rocks and burning trunks of trees against heaven. But the gods called Heracles to their assistance, a prophecy having warned them that they would be unable to destroy the giants without the aid of a mortal. Heracles slew not only Alcyoneus, but gave the others, whom the gods had struck down, their death-blow with his arrows. As Enceladus was flying, Athene threw the island of Sicily upon him. Polybotes was buried by Poseidon under the island of Nisyros, a piece of the island of Cos, which Poseidon had broken off with his trident, with all the giants who had fled there. Besides these, the following names are given among others: Agrius, Ephialtes, Pallas, Clytius, Eurytus, Hippolytus, Thoon. In the oldest works of art the Giants are represented in human form and equipped with armour and spears; but in course of time their attributes became terrific--awful faces, long hanging hair and beard, the skins of wild animals for garments, trunks of trees and clubs for weapons. In the latest representations, but not before, their bodies end in two scaly snakes instead of feet, as in the In the Gigantomachia of Pergamus, the grandest representation of the subject in antiquity, we find a great variety of forms; some quite human, others with snakes' feet and powerful wings, others with still bolder combinations of shape; some are naked, some clothed with skins, some fully armed, and others slinging stones.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


The Gigantomachy at the spring Olympias

Battle between the (Olympian) gods and giants. The Arcadians claim that the battle took place near the spring Olympias in Trapezous, and not at Thrace.

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