Monday, January 16, 2017

The mythical story and history of Zeus and the Giants

Zeus and his brothers, who, having gained a complete victory over their enemies, began to consider how the world, which they had conquered, should be divided between them. At last it was settled by lot that Zeus should reign supreme in Heaven, whilst Hades governed the Lower World, and Poseidon had full command over the Sea, but the supremacy of Zeus was recognized in all three kingdoms, in heaven, on earth (in which of course the sea was included), and under the earth. Zeus held his court on the top of Mount Olympus, whose summit was beyond the clouds; the dominions of Aides were the gloomy unknown regions below the earth; and Poseidon reigned over the sea. It will be seen that the realm of each of these gods was enveloped in mystery. Olympus was shrouded in mists, Hades was wrapt in gloomy darkness, and the sea was, and indeed still is, a source of wonder and deep interest. Hence we see that what to other nations were merely strange phenomena, served this poetical and imaginative people as a foundation upon which to build the wonderful stories of their mythology.


The division of the world being now satisfactorily arranged, it would seem that all things ought to have gone on smoothly, but such was not the case. Trouble arose in an unlooked-for quarter. The Giants, or Gigantes those hideous monsters (some with legs formed of serpents) who had sprung from the earth and the blood of Uranus, declared war against the triumphant deities of Olympus, and a struggle ensued, which, in consequence of Gaia having made these children of hers invincible as long as they kept their feet on the ground, was wearisome and protracted.

A bust of Zeus photo: Wikipedia

Their mother's precaution, however, was rendered unavailing by pieces of rock being hurled upon them, which threw them down, and their feet being no longer placed firmly on their mother-earth, they were overcome, and this tedious war (which was called the Gigantomachia) at last came to an end. Among the most daring of these earth-born giants were Enceladus, Rhoetus, and the valiant Mimas, who, with youthful fire and energy, hurled against heaven great masses of rock and burning oak-trees, and defied the lightnings of Zeus.

The serpent-footed giant Typhoeus, Chalcidian black-figure hydria C6th B.C., Staatliche Antikensammlungen photo: Theoi

One of the most powerful monsters who opposed Zeus in this war was called Typhon or Typhoeus. He was the youngest son of Tartarus and Gaia, and had a hundred heads, with eyes which struck terror to the beholders, and awe-inspiring voices frightful to hear. This dreadful monster resolved to conquer both gods and men, but his plans were at length defeated by Zeus, who, after a violent encounter, succeeded in destroying him with a thunderbolt, but not before he had so terrified the gods that they had fled for refuge to Egypt, where they metamorphosed themselves into different animals and thus escaped.


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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Talesbeyondbelief. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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