DAMASEN was a giant of the kingdom of Lydia in Anatolia who slew a monstrous drakon (dragon) that was laying waste to the land. His name was derived from the Greek verb damazô or damasô, meaning "to subdue."
The story given by Nonnus below appears to be derived from Lydian mythology. He may be related to Manes, the earth-born first King of the Lydians described by Herodotus whose son Atyllos may be the same as Nonnus' Tylos. The pair also apparently appear in Greek mythology in the guise of Tantalos and Pelops. Pelops like Tylos is slain but restored to life by the Moirai (Fates).
The Lydian hero Damasen may also have been identified with Herakles by the Greeks. In one myth Herackles is described slaying a similar Lydian Drakon. He was probably also connected with several other giants of Lydian myth--Hyllos, Atlas, Anax and Asterios.
FAMILY OF DAMASEN
GAIA (Nonnus Dionysiaca 25.452)
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 25. 452 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Moria, and the dappled Serpent, and the divine plant, and Damasen Drakon-Killer (Dragon-Killer) the terrible son of Gaia (Gaea, the Earth); Tylos, also, who lived in Maionia (Maeonia) [Lydia] so short a time, was there mangled in his quick poisonous death.
Tylos was walking once on the overhanging bank of neighbouring Hermos (Hermus) the Mygdonian River, when his hand touched a serpent. The Drakon (Dragon) lifted his head and stretched his hood, opened wide his ruthless gaping mouth and leapt on the man, whipt round the man's loins his trailing tail and hissed like a whistling wind, curled round the man's body in clinging rings, then darting at his face tore the cheeks and downy chin with sharp rows of teeth, and spat the juice of Moira (Fate) out of his poisonous jaws. The man struggled with all that weight on his shoulders, while his neck was encircled by the coiling tail, snaky necklace of death brining Fate very near. Then he fell dead to the ground, like an uprooted tree.
A Naias (Naiad) unveiled pitied one so young, fallen dead before her eyes; she wailed over the body beside her, and pulled off the monstrous beast, to bring him down. For this was not the first wayfarer that he had laid low, not the first shepherd, Tylos not the only one he had killed untimely; lurking in his thicket he battened on the wild beasts, and often pulled up a tree by the roots and dragged it in, then under the joints of his jaws swallowed it into his dank darksome throat, blowing out again a great blast from his mouth. Often he pulled in the wayfarer terrified by his lurking breath, and dragged him rolling over and over his mouth--he could be seen from afar swallowing the man whole in his gaping maw.
So Moria watching afar saw her brother's murderer; the Nymphe trembled with fear when she beheld the serried ranks of poisonous teeth, and the garland of death wrapt round his neck. Wailing loudly beside the dragonvittling den, she met Damasen, a gigantic son of Gaia, whom his mother once conceived and brought forth by herself. At his birth, Eris (Strife) was his nurse, spears his mother's pap, carnage his bath, the corselet his swaddlings. Under the heavy weight of those long broad limbs, a warlike babe, he cast lances as a boy; touching the sky, from birth he shook a spear born with him; no sooner did he appear than Eileithyia armed the nursling with a shield.
This was he whom the Nymphe beheld on the fertile slope of the woodland. She bowed weeping before him in prayer, and pointed to the horrible reptile, her brother's murderer, and Tylos newly mangled and still breathing in the dust. The Gigas (Giant) did not reject her prayer, that monstrous champion; but he seized a tree and tore it up from tits roots in mother earth, then stood and came sidelong upon the ravening Drakon (Dragon). The coiling champion fought him in serpent fashion, hissing battle from the wartrumpet of his throat, a fifty furlong Drakon coil upon coil. With two circles he bound first Damasen's feet, madly whipping his writhing coils about his body, and opened the gates of his raging teeth to show a mad chasm: rolling his wild eyes, breathing death, he shot watery spurts from his lips, and spat into the Gigas' face fountains of poison in showers from his jaws, and sent a long spout of yellow foam out of his teeth. He darted up straight and danced over the Gigas's highcrested head, while the movement of his body made the earth quake.
But the terrible Gigas shook his great limbs like mountains, and threw off the weight of the Drakon's long spine. His hand whirled aloft his weapon shooting straight like a missile the great tree with all its leaves, and brought down the plant roots and all upon the Drakon's head, where the backbone joins it at the narrow part of the rounded neck. Then the tree took root again, and the Drakon lay on the ground immovable, a coiling corpse. Suddenly the female serpent his mate came coiling up, scraping the ground with her undulating train, and crept about seeking for her misshapen husband, like a woman who missed her husband dead. She wound her long trailing spine with all speed among the tall rocks, hurrying towards the herbdecked hillside; in the coppice she plucked the flower of Zeus with her snaky jaws, and brought back the pain-killing herb in her lips, dropt the antidote of death into the dry nostril of the horrible dead, and gave life with the flower to the stark poisonous corpse. The body moved of itself and shuddered; part of it still had not life, another part stirred, half-restored the body shook another part and the tail moved of itself; breath came again through the cold jaws, slowly the throat opened and the familiar sound came out, pouring the same long hiss again. At last the serpent moved, and disappeared into his furtive hole."
See MORIA for the rest of this story.
- Nonnus, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th A.D.