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Such is the legend of Demeter. But Earth, vexed on account of the Titans, brought forth the giants, whom she had by Sky.1 These were matchless in the bulk of their bodies and invincible in their might; terrible of aspect did they appear, with long locks drooping from their head and chin, and with the scales of dragons for feet.2 They were born, as some say, in Phlegrae, but according to others in Pallene.3 And they darted rocks and burning oaks at the sky. Surpassing all the rest were Porphyrion and Alcyoneus, who was even immortal so long as he fought in the land of his birth. He also drove away the cows of the Sun from Erythia. Now the gods had an oracle that none of the giants could perish at the hand of gods, but that with the help of a mortal they would be made an end of. Learning of this, Earth sought for a simple to prevent the giants from being destroyed even by a mortal. But Zeus forbade the Dawn and the Moon and the Sun to shine, and then, before anybody else could get it, he culled the simple himself, and by means of Athena summoned Hercules to his help. Hercules first shot Alcyoneus with an arrow, but when the giant fell on the ground he somewhat revived. However, at Athena's advice Hercules dragged him outside Pallene, and so the giant died.4


1 According to Hesiod (Hes. Th. 183ff.), Earth was impregnated by the blood which dropped from heaven when Cronus mutilated his father Sky (Uranus), and in due time she gave birth to the giants. As to the battle of the gods and giants, see Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 63; Hor. Carm. 3.4.49ff.; Ov. Met. 1.150ff.; Claudian, Gigant.; Sidonius Apollinaris, Carm. xii.15ff., ed. Baret; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 4, 92 (First Vatican Mythographer 11; Second Vatican Mythographer 53). The account which Apollodorus here gives of it is supplemented by the evidence of the monuments, especially temple-sculptures and vase-paintings. See Preller-Robert, Griechische Mythologie, i.67ff. Compare M. Mayer, Die Giganten und Titanen, (Berlin, 1887). The battle of the gods and the giants was sculptured on the outside of the temple of Apollo at Delphi, as we learn from the description of Euripides (Eur. Ion 208ff.). On similar stories see Frazer's Appendix to Apollodorus, “War of Earth on Heaven.”

2 Compare Ov. Met. 1.184, Tristia, iv.7.17; Macrobius, Sat. i.20.9; Serv. Verg. A. 3.578; Claudian, Gigant. 80ff.; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. p. 92 (Second Vatican Mythographer 53). Pausanias denied that the giants were serpent-footed (Paus. 8.29.3), but they are often so represented on the later monuments of antiquity. See Kuhnert, in W. H. Roscher's Lexikon der griech. und röm. Mythologie, i.1664ff.; M. Mayer, Die Giganten und Titanen, pp. 274ff.

3 Phlegra is said to have been the old name of PalleneStephanus Byzantius, s.v. Φλέγρα). The scene of the battle of the gods and giants was laid in various places. See Diod. 5.71; Strab. 5.4.4, 6, Strab. 6.3, 5, Strab. 7 Fr. 25, 27, Strab. 10.5.16, Strab. 11.2.10; Paus. 8.29.1, with my note. Volcanic phenomena and the discovery of the fossil bones of large extinct animals seem to have been the principal sources of these tales.

4 Compare Pind. N. 4.27, Pind. I. 6.31(45) with the Scholia; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 63. The Scholiast on Pind. I. 6.32(47), mentions, like Apollodorus, that Alcyoneus had driven away the oxen of the Sun. The reason why Herakles dragged the wounded giant from Pallene before despatching him was that, as Apollodorus has explained above, the giant was immortal so long as he fought on the land where he had been born. That, too, is why the giant revived when in falling he touched his native earth.

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    • W. Walter Merry, James Riddell, D. B. Monro, Commentary on the Odyssey (1886), 7.59
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