Giants

Giants were a race of great strength and aggression, though not necessarily of great size, known for the Gigantomachy, their battle with the Olympian gods. The Giants were the offspring of Gaia, born from the blood that fell when Uranus was castrated by his Titan son Cronus.

Agrius and Oreus

They were a pair of half-bear Thracian giants. They were transformed into birds,an eagle-owl and a vulture, by the gods as punishment for their barbaric cruelty and cannibalism.

Parents: Polyphonte and a bear

Alcyoneus

Alcyoneus was the King of the Thracian Giants, who was immortal within the confines of his homeland of Pallene.

During the Gigantomachy, Heracles disabled him with a volley of arrows and blows from his club. The hero then dragged the wounded giant beyond the confines of Pallene where he died.

Parents: Gaia
Offspring: The Alcyonids
Killed by: Heracles

Heracles and Alcyoneus, metope from the first Heraion at Foce del Sele.

The Aloadae

They were two giants, called Otus and Ephialtes, who attempted to storm the home of the gods by piling three mountains, Olympus, Ossa and Pelion, one on top of the other.

Ares tried to stop them but was defeated and imprisoned for thirteen months in a bronze urn. Artemis later raced between them in the guise of a deer. They both cast their spears but missed and instead struck each other dead.

Parents: Poseidon and Iphimedea
Killed by: Artemis

Artemis and the Aloadae giants | Athenian red-figure krater C5th B.C. | Antikenmuseum Basel
Artemis and the Aloadae giants. Athenian red-figure krater, c. 5th BC, Antikenmuseum Basel.

Antaeus

He was a Libyan giant who forced travellers passing through his land to compete with him in a wrestling match. He overwhelmed them all and used their skulls to build a temple to his father Poseidon.

Antaeus was a son of Gaia, and it was from her that he drew his invincible strength. When Heracles encountered him, Athena advised the him to lift the giant up from the earth in the contest. He did so, and weakening the monster was able to crush his ribs and kill him.

Parents: Poseidon and Gaia
Killed by: Heracles

Heracles and Antaeus, red-figured krater by Euphronios, c. 515–510 BC, Louvre.

Argus Panoptes

He was a hundred-eyed giant of Argolis in the Peloponnese.

Once when Zeus was consorting with the nymph Io, his jealous wife Hera appeared on the scene. The god quickly transformed her into a white heifer but the goddess was not deceived and demanded the animal as a gift. She then appointed Argus Panoptes as its guard. Zeus sent Hermes to surreptitiously rescue his lover. The god lulled the giant to sleep with his music and slew him with his sword.

Hera rewarded Argus for his service by placing his hundred eyes on the tail of her sacred bird, the peacock.

Parents: Gaia
Killed by: Hermes

Hermes slaying Argus Panoptes | Athenian red-figure stamnos C5th B.C. | Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Hermes slaying Argus Panoptes. Athenian red-figure vase, c. 5th BC, Kunsthistorisches Museum.

Cacus

He was a monstrous, fire-breathing giant who dwelt in a cave on the Aventine Hill in what would become Rome. He was slain by Heracles, as the hero was on his way back to Greece after fetching the cattle of Geryon from Erythea, for stealing some of the cattle.

Parents: Hephaestus
Killed by: Heracles

Hercules killing the fire-breathing Cacus, engraving by Sebald Beham (1545).

Damasen

He was a giant of the kingdom of Lydia in Anatolia who slew a monstrous dragon that was laying waste to the land.

Parents: Gaia

Echidnades

He was a giant son of Echidna. He was a serpent-footed ally of the Titans who was slain in battle by the god Ares.

Parents: Echidna
Killed by: Ares

Enceladus

He was a Giant who battled Athena in the Gigantomachy. When he fled the battlefield, Athena pursued and buried him beneath the Sicilian Mount Etna. 

Parents: Gaia

Athena (left) fighting Enceladus on an Attic red-figure dish, c. 550–500 BC, Louvre.

The Gegenees

They were a tribe of six-armed giants, who fought the Argonauts on Bear Mountain in Mysia.

Parents: Gaia
Killed by: The Argonauts

Geryon

He was a three-bodied giant, who lived on the island of Erythea in the westernmost reach of the earth-encircling river Oceanus. He possessed a fabulous herd of cattle, whose coats were stained red by the light of the sunset. Heracles was sent to fetch these as one of his Twelve Labours.

The hero reached the island by sailing across Oceanus in a golden cup-boat borrowed from the sun-god Helius. There he encountered and slew the cattle-herder Eurytion, the two-headed guard dog Orthrus, and finally three-bodied Geryon himself. With this task complete, the hero herded the cattle into his boat and led them back to the Greek Peloponnese.

Parents: Chrysaor and Callirhoe
Killed by: Heracles

Heracles fighting Geryon, amphora, c. 540 BC, Louvre.

The Hecatoncheires

These Hundred-Handed giants were three primordial sons of Uranus and Gaia. Each had a hundred hands for wielding clouds and fifty heads for blustering winds. Their three companion brothers, the Cyclops, were masters of thunder and lightning. Fearing the power of his gigantic sons, Uranus promptly locked them away in the pit of Tartarus.


An age later, the six giants were released by Zeus during the Titanomachy and helped drive the Titans from heaven down into the pit. The Hecatoncheires were then appointed as the prison’s eternal wardens.

Parents: Uranus and Gaia
Siblings: The Cyclops

Hyperborean Giants

They were three giant sons of Boreas the north-wind and Chione, the goddess of snow. They were the immortal priests of the virtuous Hyperborean tribe who dwelt in a realm of eternal spring beyond the North Wind.

Parents: Boreas and Chione

The Laestrygones

They were a tribe of man-eating giants encountered by Odysseus on his travels. Homer appears to place them somewhere in the far north, a land where the sun rose shortly after it set. 

Parents: Poseidon and Gaia

The fourth panel of the so-called “Odyssey Landscapes” wall painting from the Vatican Museums in Rome, c. 60–40 BC.

Orion

He was a handsome giant granted the ability to walk on water by his father Poseidon. He served King Oenopion of Chios as huntsman for a time, but was blinded and exiled from the island after seducing the king’s daughter, Merope. Orion then travelled across the sea to Lemnos to petition the god Hephaestus for help in recovering his sight. Lending him his assistant Cedalion, the god directed the giant to the rising place of the sun where Helius restored his vision. Upon returning to Greece, Orion sought out Oenopion to exact his revenge but the king hid himself away in an underground, bronze chamber.

The giant then retired to the island of Delos or Crete, where he became a hunting companion of the goddess Artemis. After his death he was placed amongst the stars as the constellation Orion.

Parents: Poseidon and Euryale
Consort: Side
Killed by: Scorpion or Artemis

Tityus

He was an Euboean or Phocian giant who assaulted the goddess Leto as she travelling to the shrine of Delphi. Her son Apollo quickly intervened and slew the giant with a volley of arrows and the blade of his golden sword. As further punishment for his crime, Tityus was staked to the ground in the underworld where two vultures were set to feed on his ever-regenerating liver.

Parents: Zeus and Elara
Killed by: Apollo

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Apollo slaying Tityus. Attic red-figured pelike, c. 450–440 BC, Louvre.

Typhon

He was a monstrous storm-giant, who laid siege to heaven but was defeated by Zeus and imprisoned in the pit of Tartarus. He was a winged giant, said to be so huge that his head brushed the stars. He was man-shaped from the waist up with two coiled serpents in place of legs. He had a hundred serpent-heads for fingers, a filthy, matted beard, pointed ears, and eyes flashing fire.

Parents: Tartarus and Gaia
Consort: Echidna
Offspring: Chimera, Orthrus, Cerberus, Nemean Lion, Ladon, Sphinx and Hydra

Zeus aiming his thunderbolt at a winged and snake-footed Typhon. Chalcidian black-figured hydria, c. 540–530 BC, Staatliche Antikensammlungen.