Or Typhoeus (Τυφωεύς), Typhaon (Τυφάων), Typhos (Τυφώς), a monster of the primitive world, is described sometimes as a destructive hurricane, and sometimes as a fire-breathing giant. According to Homer1 he was concealed in the country of the Arimi in the earth, which was lashed by Zeus with flashes of lightning.
In Hesiod Typhaon and Typhoeus are two distinct beings. Typhaon there is a son of Typhoeus,2 and a fearful hurricane, who by Echidna became the father of the dog Orthrus, Cerberus, the Lernaean hydra, Chimaera, and the Sphinx.3 Notwithstanding the confusion of the two beings in later writers, the original meaning of Typhaon was preserved in ordinary life.4
Typhoeus, on the other hand, is described as the youngest son of Tartarus and Gaea, or of Hera alone, because she was indignant at Zeus having given birth to Athena. Typhoeus is described as a monster with a hundred heads, fearful eyes, and terrible voices;5 he wanted to acquire the sovereignty of gods and men, but was subdued, after a fearful struggle, by Zeus, with a thunderbolt.6 He begot the winds, whence he is also called the father of the Harpies,7 but the beneficent winds Notus, Boreas, Argestes, and Zephyrus, were not his sons.8 Aeschylus and Pindar describe him as living in a Cilician cave.9 He is further said to have at one time been engaged in a struggle with all the immortals, and to have been killed by Zeus with a flash of lightning; he was buried in Tartarus under Mount Etna, the workshop of Hephaestus.10
The later poets frequently connect Typhoeus with Egypt, and the gods, it is said, when unable to hold out against him, fled to Egypt, where, from fear, they metamorphosed themselves into animals, with the exception of Zeus and Athena.
Ancient Greek vases often depict the battle between Typhon and Zeus, such as on a Chalcidian hydria (ca. 550 BCE; Munich). The giant is depicted with large wings and serpentine legs, while Zeus is speeding toward him, carrying a bolt of lightning in his raised right hand.
- Iliad ii, 782; comp. Strabo. Geography xiii, p. 929.
- Theogony, 869.
- Theogony, 306; comp. Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 3.1; iii, 5.8.
- Aristophanes. The Frogs, 845; Pliny the Elder. Naturalis Historia ii, 48.
- Pindar. Pythian Odes i, 31; viii, 21, Olympian Odes iv, 12.
- Hesiod. Theogony, 821 ff.
- C. Valerius Flaccus. Argonautica iv, 428.
- Hesiod. Theogony, 869 ff.
- Pindar. Pythian Odes viii, 21; comp. the different ideas in Apollonius Rhodius. Argonautica ii, 1210 ff., and Herodotus. Histories iii, 5.
- Ovid. Heroides xv, 11; Fasti iv, 491; Aeschylus. Prometheus Bound, 351 ff.; Pindar. Pythian Odes i, 29 ff.
- Aken, Dr. A.R.A. van. (1961). Elseviers Mythologische Encyclopedie. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
- Antoninus Liberalis, 28.
- Comp. Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library i, 6.3.
- Horace. Odes, iii, 4. 53.
- Hyginus. Poetical Astronomy ii, 28.
- Ovid. Fasti ii, 461.
- Ovid. Metamorphoses v, 321 ff.
- 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.