). 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 Pallené; 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, Athené 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, Thoön.
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
Giant in Conflict with Artemis. (Roman relief in Vatican Museum.)
illustration. 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. See Mayer, Die
Giganten und Titanen (Leipzig, 1887)
; and the articles Pergamene Sculptures