Greek Mythology >> Bestiary >> Giants >> Gigantes >> Periboea (Periboia)


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Around the Cattle

PERIBOIA (Periboea) was the youngest daughter of giant-king Eurymedon and the mother by Poseidon of Nausithoos, the first king of the Phaiakes (Phaeacians). The Phaiakes were a mythical sea-faring race famed for their encounter with the hero Odysseus.

Periboia's name means "Surrounding the Cattle" or "Around the Cattle" from the Greek words peri and bous. She was probably a giantess (gigantis) like the wife and daughter of the Laistrygon Antiphates described elsewhere in the Odyssey. If her father Eurymedon was the same figure as Alkyoneus--the usual king of the giants--Periboia would be numbered amongst the sea-calming Alkyonides.



EURYMEDON (Homer Odyssey 7.56)


NAUSITHOOS (by Poseidon) (Homer Odyssey 7.56)


Homer, Odyssey 7. 56 ff (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"First came Nausithoos, son of Poseidaon (Poseidon) and lovely Periboia (Periboea), the youngest daughter of bold Eurymedon, who once was king (basileus) of the overbearing Gigantes (Giants), but then brought doom on his reckless people and on himself. Poseidaon lay with Periboia, and she bore him this son, Nausithoos, who became king of the Phaiekes (Phaeacians) and had two sons, Rhexenor and Alkinoos (Alcinous). Rhexenor had not been married long when he met his death from Apollon of the silver bow; he was sonless, but left one daughter in his place; this was Arete, whom Alkinoos made his wife and has honoured ever since as no other wife in the world is honoured."

Homer, Odyssey 7. 200 ff :
"[King Alkinoos (Alcinous) of the Phaiekes (Phaeacians) describes his people :] ‘In the past they [the gods] have always appeared undisguised among us at our offering of noble hecatombs; they have feasted beside us, they have sat at the same table. And if one of us comes upon them as he travels alone, then too they have never as yet made concealment, because we are close of kin (egguthen) to themselves, just like those of the Kyklopes (Cyclopes) race or the savage people (phyla) of the Gigantes (Giants).’"
[N.B. It is not clear exactly why Homer describes these three races as "close of kin." The most obvious explanation is that the first Phaeacian king was a grandson of Eurymedon, king of the Gigantes. Later classical writers, however, explain this passage by saying that the Gigante, Phaeacian--and presumably Kyklops (Cyclops)--tribes were born of Gaia the Earth when she was impregnated by the blood of the castrated sky-god Ouranos. Cf. Apollonius Rhodius 4.982 on the sickle of Kronos.]

Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4. 982 ff (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.) :
"In the Keraunian (Ceraunian) Sea, fronting the Ionian Straits, there is a rich and spacious island [i.e. Drepane, ‘the Sickle’], under the soil of which is said to lie . . . the sickle used by Kronos (Cronus) to castrate his father Ouranos (Uranus, Sky) . . . From this reaping-hook the island takes its name of Drepane, the sacred Nurse of the Phaiakes (Phaeacians), who by the same token trace their ancestry to Ouranos (Sky)."
[N.B. The first king of the Phaeacians was a son of Periboia, daughter of the king of the giants. As the Gigantes and Phaeacians were sibling races this would explain why her son could claim the kingship.]




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