Greek Mythology >> Bestiary >> Giants >> Agrius & Oreus (Agrios & Oreios)


Greek Name






Latin Spelling




Wild, Savage

Of the Mountain

AGRIOS (Agrius) and OREIOS (Oreus) were a pair of half-bear Thrakian (Thracian) giants. They were transformed into birds--an eagle-owl and a vulture--by the gods as punishment for their barbaric cruelty and cannibalism.

Their names mean "Wild One" or "Savage One" from the Greek word agrios and "Of the Mountain" from oreios.


A BEAR & POLYPHONTE (Antoninus Liberalis 21)


Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 21 (trans. Celoria) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Thrassa was daughter of Ares and of Tereine daughter of Strymon. Hipponous, son of Triballos [eponym or god of the Triballoi tribe of Thrake (Thrace)], married her and they had a daughter called Polyphonte (Slayer-of-Many). She scorned the activities of Aphrodite and went to the mountains as a companion and sharer of sports with Artemis.
Aphrodite, whose activities Polyphonte failed to honour, made her fall in love with a bear and drove her mad. By daemonic urge she went on heat and coupled with this bear. Artemis seeing her was utterly disgusted with her and turned all beasts against her.
Polyphonte, fearing the beasts would make an end of her, fled and reached her father's house. She brought forth two children, Agrios (Agrius) and Oreios (Oreus), huge and of immense strength. They honoured neither god nor man but scorned them all. If they met a stranger they would haul him home to eat.
Zeus loathed them and sent Hermes to punish them in whatever way he chose. Hermes decided to chop of their hands and feet. But Ares, since the family of Polyphonte descended from him, snatched her sons from this fate. With the help of Hermes he changed them into birds.
Polyphonte became a small owl whose voice is heard at night. She does not eat or drink and keeps her head turned down and the tips of her feet turned up. She is a portent of war and sedition for mankind. Oreios became an eagle owl, a bird that presages little good to anyone when it appears. Argios was changed into a vulture, the bird most detested by gods and men. These gods gave him an utter craving for human flesh and blood.
Their female servant was changed into a woodpecker. As she was changing her shape she prayed to the gods not to become a bird evil for mankind. Hermes and Ares heard her prayer because she had by necessity done what her masters had ordered. This a bird of good omen for someone going hunting or to feasts."




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