A son of Poseidon and Gaea, a mighty giant and wrestler in Libya, whose strength was invincible so long as he remained in contact with his mother earth. The strangers who came to his country were compelled to wrestle with him; the conquered were slain, and out of their skulls he built a house to Poseidon. Heracles discovered the source of his strength, lifted him up from the earth, and crushed him in the air.1

The tomb of Antaeus (Antaei collis), which formed a moderate hill in the shape of a man stretched out at full length, was shown near the town of Tingis in Mauretania down to a late period,2 and it was believed that whenever a portion of the earth covering it was taken away, it rained until the hole was filled up again. Sertorius is said to have opened the grave, but when he found the skeleton of sixty cubits in length, he was struck with horror and had it covered again immediately.3


The battle between Heracles and Antaeus is depicted on Greek vases, such as on a red-figure krater by Euphronius (fifth century BCE; Paris). It is also depicted on various coins, particularly the part where Heracles lifted the giant off the ground. More recent is the painting by Baldung.



  1. Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 5.11; Hyginus. Fabulae, 31; Diodorus Siculus, iv, 17; Pindar. Isthmian Odes iv, 87 ff.; Lucan. Pharsalia iv, 590 ff.; Juven. iii, 89; Ovid. Ibis, 397.
  2. Strabo. Geography xvii, 829; P. Mela, iii, 10.35 ff.
  3. Strabo. Geography l.c.; Plutarch. Sertorius, 9.


  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.

This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.