Web Theoi
PORPHYRION
 
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Πορφυριων Porphyriôn Porphyrion Surging (porphyreôs)
Heracles, Porphyrion & Hera | Athenian red figure amphora C4th B.C. | Musée du Louvre
Heracles, Porphyrion & Hera, Athenian red figure
amphora C4th B.C., Musée du Louvre

PORPHYRION was the King of the Gigantes who was struck down by Herakles and Zeus with arrows and lighning bolt when he attempted to rape the goddess Hera during the Giant War.

He is probably the same as Eurymedon, who is named King of the Gigantes by Homer.

There are several possible etymologies for his name. It might derive from the word porphyreôs, "the surging," referring to both the surges of the battlefield and of the sea. Another similar word porphyrô means "gleaming darkly." The comedian Aristophanes in his play the Birds connects Porphyrion and his brother Alkyoneus with two birds, the purple-coot (Greek porphyriôn) and the halcyon (alkyôn).

He may be the same as Eurymedon, the King of the Gigantes mentioned in the Odyssey.

PARENTS
[1.1] Blood of OURANOS & GAIA (Apollodorus 1.34)
[1.2] EREBOS & NYX (Hyginus, Pref)

ENCYCLOPEDIA

PORPHY′RION (Porphuriôn).One of the giants, a son of Uranus and Ge. During the fight between the giants and the gods, when Porphyrion intended to offer violence to Hera, or, according to others, attempted to throw the island of Delos against the gods, Zeus hurled a thunderbolt at him, and Heracles completed his destruction with his arrows. (Apollod. i. 6. § 1, &c.; Pind. Pyth. viii. 12; Horat. Carm. iii. 4. 54; Claudian, Gigantom. 114, &c.)

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.


Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 36 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"The greatest of them [the Gigantes (Giants)] were Porphyrion and Alkyoneus . . . In the course of the battle [of the gods and giants] Porphyrion rushed against Herakles and also Hera. Zeus instilled him with a passion for Hera, and when he tore her gown and wanted to rape her, she called for help, whereat Zeus hit him with a thunderbolt and Herakles slew him with an arrow."

Pindar, Pythian Ode 8 ant1 - ep1 (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric poet C5th B.C.) :
"Porphyrion even he knew not your [Zeus'] strength when he provoked you beyond all measure . . . But violence brings ruin even the boastful hard-heart soon or late. Kilikian Typhon of the hundred heads could not escape his fate, nor could even the great king of the Gigantes [Porphyrion], but by the thunderbolt they were laid low, and by Apollon's shafts."

Aristophanes, Birds 1249 ff (trans. O'Neill) (Greek comedy C5th to 4th B.C.) :
"[Comedy in which the Birds threaten to attack heaven:] I shall send more than six hundred porphyrions [purple-coots or water-hens] clothed in leopards' skins up to heaven against him; and formerly a single Porphyrion [the Gigante (Giant)] gave him enough to do."

Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Book 2 (trans. Pearse) (summary from Photius, Myriobiblon 190) (Greek mythographer C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
"Herakles, says the author [Hephaestion], was called Neilos at his birth; then, when he saved Hera in killing the nameless Gigante with the fiery breath who attacked her, he changed his name because he had escaped the danger of Hera."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Preface (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"From Nox (Night) and Erebus (Darkness) [were born]: . . . Epiphron, Porphyrion, Epaphos [amongst a list of Giants and abstractions]."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 25. 85 ff (trans. Lind) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Bakkhos [Dionysos] repaid the stubble of snakehaired Gigantes (Giants), a conquering hero with a tiny manbreaking wand, when he cast the battling ivy against Porphyrion, when he buffetted Enkelados and drove Alkyoneus with a volley of leaves."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 48. 6 ff :
"[Gaia the Earth] goaded her own sons to battle: ‘My sons, make your attack with hightowering rocks . . . [and I will] bestow Hebe on [the Gigante] Porphyrion as a wife, and give Kythereia [Aphrodite] to [the Gigante] Khthonios, when I sing Brighteyes [Athene] the bedfellow of Enkelados, and Artemis of Alkyoneus . . . ’ With these words she excited all the host of the Gigantes."


Porphyrion & Hera | Greek vase painting
K4.4 PORPHYRION,
HERA, HERAKLES
Porphyrion & Zeus | Greek vase painting
K1.3 PORPHYRION,
ZEUS
   

Sources:

  • Pindar, Odes - Greek Lyric C5th B.C.
  • Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
  • Aristophanes, The Birds - Greek Comedy C5th-4th B.C.
  • Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History - Greek Scholar C1st-2nd A.D.
  • Nonnos, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th A.D.
  • Photius, Myriobiblon - Byzantine Greek Scholar C9th A.D.

Other references not currently quoted here: Horaius Carmina 3.4.54; Claudian Gigantomachia 114