TYPHOEUS was a monstrous, serpentine giant that battled Zeus for dominion of the cosmos. This page contains the elaborate version of the story from Nonnus' Dionysiaca--a poem of late antiquity.
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
THE BATTLE OF ZEUS & TYPHOEUS (FROM NONNUS)
I. TYPHOEUS STEALS THE WEAPONS OF ZEUS
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 1. 145 - 2. 712 (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"He [Kadmos (Cadmus), future king of Thebes,] came to the bloodstained cave of Arima, when the mountains had moved from their seats and were beating at the gate of inexpugnable Olympos, when the gods took wing above the rainless Nile, like a flight of birds far out of reach, oaring their strange track in the winds of heaven, and the seven zones of the sky were sore assailed.
This was the reason. Zeus Kronides (Cronides) had hurried to Plouto's (Pluto's) bed, to beget Tantalos (Tantalus), that mad robber of the heavenly cups; and he laid his celestial weapons well hidden with his lightning in a deep cavern. From underground the thunderbolts belched out smoke, the white cliff was blackened; hidden sparks from a fire-barbed arrow heated the water-springs; torrents boiling with foam and steam poured down the Mygdonian gorge, until it boomed again.
Then at a nod from his mother, the Earth [Gaia], Kilikian (Cilician) Typhoeus stretched out his hands, and stole the snowy tools of Zeus, the tools of fire; then spreading his row of rumble-rattling throats [i.e. Typhoeus had a hundred animal heads], he yelled as his warcry the cries of all wild beasts together: the snakes that grew from him waved over his leopard's heads, licked the grim lions' manes, girdled with their curly tails spiral-wise round the bulls' horns, mingled the shooting poison of their long thin tongues with the foam-spittle of the boars.
II. TYPHOEUS ATTACKS THE HEAVENS AS A STORM
Nonnus, Dionysiaca cont. :
"Now he laid the gear of Kronides [Zeus] in a cubby-hole of the rock and spread the harvest of his clambering hands [his hands were as numerous as corn-stalks in a field] into the upper air. And that battalion of hands! One throttled Kynosouris (Cynosura) [i.e. the constellation Ursa Minor] beside the ankle-tip of Olympos; one gripped the Parrhasian Bear's mane as she rested on heaven's axis [i.e. the constellation Ursa Major]; another caught the Oxdrover [i.e. the constellation Bootes] and knocked him out; another dragged Phosphoros [the star Venus], and in vain under the circling turning-post sounded the whistling of the heavenly lash in the morning; he carried off the dawn, and held in the Bull, so that timeless, half-complete, horsewoman Hora (Season) rested her team. And in the shadowy curls of his serpenthair heads the light was mingled with gloom; Selene the Moon shone rising in broad day with Helios the Sun.
Still there was no rest. The Gigante (Giant) turned back and passed from north to south; he left one pole and stood by the other. With a long arm he grasped the Charioteer [constellation Auriga], and flogged the back of hailstorming Aigokeros (Aegocerus) [constellation Capricorn]; he dragged the two Fishes [constellation Pisces] out of the sky and cast them into the sea; he buffeted the Ram [constellation Aries], that midnipple star of Olympos, who balances with equal pin day and darkness over the fiery orb of his spring time neighbour. With trailing feet Typhoeus mounted close to the clouds: spreading abroad the far-scattered host of his arms, he shadowed the bright radiance of the unclouded sky by darting forth his tangled army of snakes.
One of them ran up right through the rim of the polar circle and skipt upon the backbone of the heavenly Serpent [constellation Serpens], hissing his mortal challenge. One made for Kepheus's (Cepheus') daughter [constellation Andromeda], and with starry fingers twisting a ring as close as the other, enchained Andromeda, bound already, with a second bond aslant under her bands. Another, a horned serpent, entwined about the forked horns of Taurus the Bull's horned head of shape like his own, and dangled coiling over the Bull's brow, tormenting with open jaws the Hyades opposite ranged like a crescent moon. Poison-spitting tangles of serpents in a bunch girdled Bootes the Ox-drover. Another made a bold leap, when he saw another Snake in Olympos, and jumped around the Ophiokhos's arm that held the viper [constellation Ophiochus]; then curving his neck and coiling his crawling belly, he braided a second chaplet about Ariadne's crown [constellation Corona].
Then Typhoeus manyarmed turned to both ends, shaking with his host of arms the girdle of Zephyros (the West Wind) and the wing of Euros (the East Wind) opposite, dragging first Phosphoros [the Dawn Star], the Hesperos [the Evening Star] and the crest of Atlas. Many a time in the weedy gulf he seized Poseidon's chariot, and dragged it from the depths of the sea to land; again he pulled out a stallion by his brine-soaked mane from the undersea manger, and threw the vagabond nag to the vault of heaven, shooting his shot at Olympos--hit Helios the Sun's chariot, and the horses on their round whinnied under the yoke. Many a time he took a bull at rest from his rustic plowtree and shook him with a threatening hand, bellow as he would, then shot him against Selene the Moon like another moon, and stayed her course, then rushed hissing against the goddess, checking with the bridle her bulls' white yoke-straps, while he poured out the mortal whistle of a poison-spitting viper.
But Titanis Mene [Selene the Moon] would not yield to the attack. Battling against the Gigante's heads, like horned to hers [i.e. Selene, whose horns held the lunar-disc, locked horns with one of Typhoeus' bull heads], she carved many a scar on the shining orb of her bull's horn [i.e the smooth white surface of the moon was scarred by this battle]; and Selene's radiant cattle bellowed amazed at the gaping chasm of Typhaon's throat.
The Horai (Horae, Seasons) undaunted armed the starry battalions, and the lines of heavenly Constellations in a disciplined circle came shining to the fray. A varied host maddened the upper air with clamour and with flame : some whose portion was Boreas, others the back of the Lips in the west, or the eastern zones or the recesses of the south. The unshaken congregation of the fixt stars with unanimous acclamation left their places and caught up their travelling fellows. The axis passing through the heaven's hollow and fixt upright in the midst, groaned at the sound. Orion the hunter [constellation], seeing these tribes of wild beasts, drew his sword; the blade of the Tanagraian brand sparkled bright as its master made ready to attack; his thirsty Dog [constellation Canis], shooting light from his fiery chin, bubbled up in his starry throat and let out a hot bark, and blew out the steam from his teeth against Typhaon's beasts instead of the usual hare. The sky was full of din, and, answering the seven-zoned heaven, the seven-throated cry of the Pleiades raised the war-shout from as many throats; and the Planetoi (Planets) as many again banged out an equal noise.
Radiant Ophiokhos [constellation Ophiochus], seeing the Gigante's direful snaky shape, from his hands so potent against evil shook off the gray coils of the fire-bred serpents, and shot the dappled coiling missile, while tempests roared round his flames--the viper-arrows flew slanting and maddened the air. Then the Archer [constellation Sagittarius] let fly a shaft--that bold comrade of fish-like Aigokeros [constellation Capricorn]; the Dragon [constellation Draco], divided between the two Bears [constellation Ursa Major and Minor], and visible within the circle of the Wain [part of Ursa Major], brandished the fiery trail of the heavenly spine; the Oxherd [constellation Boötes], Erigone's neighbour, attendant driver of the Wain, hurled his crook with his flashing arm; beside he knee of the Image [constellation Hercules] and his neighbour the Swan [constellation Cygnus], the starry Lyre [constellation Lyra] presaged the victory of Zeus.
III. TYPHOEUS ATTACKS THE SEA AS A STORM
Nonnus, Dionysiaca cont. :
"Now Typhoeus shifted to the rocks, leaving the air, to flog the seas. He grasped and shook the peak of Korkykios (Corkykius) [a Kilikian mountain], and crushing the flood of the river that belongs to Kilikia (Cilicia), joined Tarsos and Kydnos (Cydnus) together in one hand; then hurled a volley of cliffs upon the mustered waves of the brine. As the Gigante advanced with feet trailing in the briny flood, his bare loins were seen dry through the water, which broke heavy against his mid-thigh crashing and booming; his serpents afloat sounded the charge with hissings form brine-beaten throats and spitting poison led the attack upon the sea. There stood Typhon in the fish-giving sea, his feet firm in the depths of the weedy bottom, his belly in the air and crushed in clouds: hearing the terrible roar from the mane-bristling lions of his giant's head, the sea-lion lurked in the oozy gulf. There was no room in the deep for all its phalanx of Leviathans, since the Earthborn monster (Gegenees) covered a whole sea, larger than the land, with flanks that no sea could cover. The seals bleated, the dolphins hid in the deep water; the manyfooted octopus, a master of craft, weaving his trailing web of crisscross knots, stuck fast on his familiar rock, making his limbs look like a pattern on the stone. All the world was a-tremble: the love-maddened murry herself, drawn by her passion for the serpent's bed, shivered under the god-desecrating breath of these seafaring serpents. The waters piled up and touched Olympos with precipitous seas; as the streams mounted on high, the bird never touched by rain found the sea his neighbour, and washed himself. Typhoeus, holding a counterfeit of the deep-sea trident, with one earthshaking flip form his enormous hand broke off an island at the edge of the continent which is the kerb of the brine, circled it round and round, and hurled the whole thing like a ball. And while the Gigante waged his war, his hurtling arms drew near to the stars, and obscured the sun, as they attacked Olympos, and cast the precipitous crag.
IV. TYPHOEUS ATTACKS THE EARTH AS A STORM
Nonnus, Dionysiaca cont. :
"Now after the frontier of the deep, after the well-laid foundation of the earth, this bastard Zeus armed his hand with fire-barbed thunderbolt: raising the gear of Zeus was hard work for the monster Typhoeus with two hundred furious hands, so great was the weight; But Kronion (Cronion) [Zeus] would lightly lift it with one hand. No clouds were about the Gigante: against his dry arms, the thunder let out a dull-sounding note booming gently without a clap, and in the drought of the air scarcely did a thirsty dew trickle in snowflakes without a drop in them; the lightning was dim, and only a softish flame shone sparkling shamefacedly, like smoke shot with flame. The thunderbolts felt the hands of a novice, and all their manly blaze was unmanned. Often they slipped out of those many many hands, and went leaping of themselves; the brands went astray, missing the familiar hand of their heavenly master. As a man beats a horse that loathes the bit . . . so the monster laboured with this hand or that to lift the fugitive flashing of the roving thunderbolt . . .
[Zeus, meanwhile, was distracted as he stole Europa from Phoenicia in the guise of a bull.] . . .
V. PAN & CADMUS RECOVER THE LIGHTNING-BOLTS & SINEWS OF ZEUS
Nonnus, Dionysiaca cont. :
"But Typhoeus was no longer to hold the gear of Zeus. For now Zeus Kronides along with Archer Eros (Love) left the circling pole, and met roving Kadmos (Cadmus) amid the mountains on his wandering search [i.e. Kadmos was searching for his abducted sister Europa]; then he devised with him an ingenious plan, and entwined the deadly threads of Moira's (Fate's) spindle for Typhon. And goat-herd Pan who went with him gave Zeus Almighty cattle and sheep and rows of horned goats. Then he built a hut with mats of wattled reeds and fixed it on the ground : he put on Kadmos a shepherd's dress, so that no one could know him in disguise, when he had clad his sham herdsman in this make-believe costume; he gave clever Kadmos the deceiving pan-pipes, part of the plot to pilot Typhaon to his death.
Now Zeus called the counterfeit herdsman and the winged controller of generation [Eros], and disclosed this one common plan : ‘Look alive, Kadmos, pipe away and there shall be fine weather in heaven! Delay, and Olympos is scourged! For Typhoeus is armed with my heavenly weapons. Only the aegis-cape is left me; but what will my aegis do fighting with Typhon's thunderbolt? I fear old Kronos (Cronus) may laugh aloud, I am shy of the proud neck of my lordly adversary Iapetos. I fear Hellas even more, that mother of romances--what if one of that nation call Typhon Lord of Rain, or Highest, and Ruling in the Heights, defiling my name! Become a herdsman for one day-dawn; make a tune on your mindbefooling shepherd's pipes, and save the Shepherd of the Universe, that I may not hear the noise of Cloud-gathering Typhoeus, the thunders of a new imposter Zeus, that I may stop his battling with lightnings and volleying with thunderbolts! If the blood of Zeus is in you, and the breed of Inakhian Io, bewitch Typhon's wits by the sovereign remedy of your guileful pipes and their tune! I will give you ample recompense for your service, two gifts: I will make you saviour of the world's harmony, and the husband of the Lady Harmonia. You also, Eros, primeval founder of fecund marriage, bend your bow, and the universe is no longer adrift. If all things come from you, friendly shepherd of life, draw one shot more and save all things. As fiery god, arm yourself against Typhon, and by your help let the fiery thunderbolts return to my hand. All-vanquisher, strike one with your fire, and may your charmed shot catch one whom Kronion did not defeat; and may he have madness from the mind-bewitching tune of Kadmos, as much as I had passion for Europa's embrace.’
With these words Zeus passed away in the shape of a horned bull, from which the Tauros Mountain [in Anatolia] takes its name. But Kadmos tuned up the deceitful notes of his harmonious reeds, as he reclined under a neighbouring tree in the pasturing woodland; wearing the country garb of a real herdsman, he sent the deluding tune to Typhaon's ears, puffing his cheeks to blow the soft breath. The Gigante loved music, and when he heard this delusive melody, he leapt up and dragged along his viperish feet; he left in a cave the flaming weapons of Zeus with Mother Gaia (Gaea, the Earth) to keep them, and followed the notes to seek the neighbouring tune of the pipes which delighted his soul. There he was seen by Kadmos near the bushes, who was sore afraid and hid in a cleft of the rock. But the monster Typhoeus with head high in air saw him trying to hide himself, and beckoned with voiceless signs, nor did he understand the trick in this beautiful music; then face to face with the shepherds, he held out one right hand, not seeing the net of destruction, and with his middle face, blood-red and human in shape, he laughed aloud and burst into empty boasts :
‘Why do you fear me, goatherd? Why do you cover your eyes with your hand? A fine feat I should think it to pursue a mortal man, after Kronion! A fine feat to carry off pan-pipes along with the lightning! What have reeds to do with flaming thunderbolts? Keep your pipes alone, since Typhoeus possesses another kind of organ, the Olympian, which plays by itself! There sits Zeus, without his clouds, hands unrumbling, none of his usual noise--he could do with your pipes. Let him have your handful of reeds to play. I don't join worthless reeds to other reeds in a row and wave them about, but I roll up clouds upon clouds into a lump, and discharge a bang all at once with rumblings all over the sky!
‘Let's have a friendly match, if you like. Come on, you make music and sound your reedy tune, I will crash my thundery tune. You puff out your cheek all swollen with wind, and blow with your lips, but Boreas (the North Wind) is my blower, and my thunderbolts boom when his breath flogs them. Drover, I will pay you for your pipes: for when I shall hold the sceptre instead of Zeus, and drive the heavenly throne, you shall come with me; leave the hearth and I will bring you to heaven pipes and all, with your flock too if you like, you shall not be parted from your herd. I'll settle your goats over the backbone of Aigokeros [the constellation Capricorn], one of the same breed; or near the Charioteer [constellation Auriga], who pushes the shining Olenian She-Goat [Amaltheia, a star group on the arm of Auriga] in Olympos [i.e. across the heavens] with his sparkling arm. I'll put your cattle beside the rainy Bull's [constellation Taurus] broad shoulder and make them stars rising in Olympos, or near the dewy turning-point [i.e. the spring equinox] where Selene's (the Moon) cattle send out a windy moo from their life-warming throats. You will not want your little hut. Instead of your bushes, let your flock go flashing with the ethereal Kids [stars within the constellation Auriga] : I will make them another crib, to shine beside the Asses' crib [constellation Cancer] and as good as theirs. Be a star yourself instead of a drover, where the Ox-Driver [constellation Bootes] is seen; wield a starry goad yourself, and drive the Bear's Lycaonian wain [constellation Ursa Major]. Happy shepherd, be heavenly Typhon's guest at table: tune up on earth today, tomorrow in heaven! You shall have ample recompense for your song: I will establish your face in the starlit circle of heaven, and join your tuneful pipes to the heavenly Harp. If you like, I will give you Athena for your holy bride: if you do not care for Gray-eyes [Athena], take Leto, or Kharis (Charis), or Kythereia (Cytherea) [Aphrodite], or Artemis, or Hebe to wife. Only don't ask me for my Hera's bed. If you have a horse-master brother who can manage a team, let him take Helios's (the Sun's) fiery four-in-hand. If you want to wield the goatskin cape of Zeus [the aegis], being a goatherd, I will make you a present of that too. I mean to march into Olympos caring nothing for Zeus unarmed; and what could Athena do to me with her armour?--a female! Strike up "See the Conquering Typhon comes," you herdsman! Sing the new lawful sovereign of Olympos in me, bearing the sceptre of Zeus and his robe of lightning!’
He spoke, and Adrasteia [Nemesis goddess of retribution] took note of his words thus far. But when Kadmos understood that the son of Gaia (the Earth) had been carried by Moira's (Fate's) thread into his hunting-net, a willing captive, struck by the delightful sting of those soul-delighting reeds, unsmiling he uttered this artful speech : ‘You liked the little tune of my pipes, when you heard it, what would you do when I strike out a humn of victory on the harp of seven strings, to honour your throne? . . . But if ever I find again the swelling sinews [i.e. which Typhon had torn from Zeus' limbs depriving him of his strength], I will strike up a tune with my quills [i.e. a lyre strung with the sinews of Zeus] to bewitch all the trees and the mountains and the temper of wild beasts [and call the rest of the universe in chaos during Typhon's war back into order] . . . But when you strike Zeus and the gods with your thunderbolt, do leave only the Archer [Apollon], that while Typhon feasts at his table, I and Phoibos (Phoebus) may have a match, and see which will beat which in celebrating mighty Typhon! And do not kill the dancing Pierides [Mousai (Muses)], that they may weave the women's lay harmonious with our manly song when Phoibos or your shepherd leads the merry dance!’
He finished; and Typhoeus bowed his flashing eyebrows and shook his locks: every hair belched viper-poison and drenched the hills. Quick he returned to his cave, took up and brought out the sinews of Zeus, and gave them to crafty Kadmos as the guest's gift; they had fallen on the ground in the battle with Typhaon.
The deceitful shepherd thanked him for the immortal gift; he handled the sinews carefully, as if they were to be strung on the harp, and hid them in a hole in the rock, kept safe for Zeus Giant-slayer. Then with pursed-up lips he let out a soft and gentle breath, pressing the reeds and stealing the notes, and sounded a tune more dainty than ever. Typhoeus pricked up all his many ears and listened to the melody, and knew nothing. The Gigante was bewitched, while the false shepherd whistled by his side, as if sounding the rout of the immortals with his pipes; but he was celebrating the soon-coming victory of Zeus, and singing the fate of Typhon to Typhon sitting by his side. So he excited him to frenzy even more; and . . . so Typhoeus yielded his whole soul to Kadmos for the melody to charm.
And so Kadmos Agenorides (Son of Agenor) remained there by the ankle of the pasturing woodland, drawing his lips to and fro along the tops of the pipes, as a pretended goatherd; but Zeus Kronides, unespied, uncaught, crept noiseless into the cave, and armed himself with his familiar fires a second time. And a cloud covered Kadmos beside his unseen rock, lest Typhoeus might learn this crafty plan, and the secret thief of the thunderbolts, and wise too late might kill the turncoat herdsman. But all the Gigante wanted was, to hear more and more of the mind-bewitching melody with its delicious thrill . . . so the monster, shaken by the breath of that deceitful tune, welcomed with delight the wound of the pipes which was his escort to death.
But now the shepherd's reed breathing melody fell silent, and a mantling shadow of cloud hid the piper as he cut off his tune. Typhoeus rushed head-in-air with the fury of battle into the cave's recesses, and searched with hurried madness for the wind-coursing thunderbolt, and found an empty cave!
V. TYPHOEUS STORMS ACROSS THE EARTH
Nonnus, Dionysiaca cont. :
"Too late he learnt the craft-devising schemes of Kronides [Zeus] and the subtle machinations of Kadmos : flinging the rocks about he leapt upon Olympos. While he dragged his crooked track with snaky foot, he spat out showers of poison from his throat; the mountain torrents were swollen, as the monster showered fountains from the viperish bristles of his high head; as he marched, the solid earth did sink, and the steady ground of Kilikia (Cilicia) shook to its foundations under those drakon-feet; the flanks of craggy Tauros crashed with a rumbling din, until the neighbouring Pamphylian hills danced with fear; the underground caverns boomed, the rocky headlands trembled, the hidden places shook, the shore slipt away as a thrust of his earthshaking foot loosened the sands.
Neither pasture nor wild beasts were spared. Rawravening bears made a meal for the jaws of Typhaon's bear-heads; tawny bodies of chest-bristling lions were swallowed by the gaping jaws of his own lion-heads; his snaky throats devoured the cold shapes of earthfed serpents; birds of the air, flying through untrodden space, there met neighbours to gulp them down their throats--he found the eagle in his home, and that was the food he relished most, because it is called the Bird of Zeus. He ate up the plowing ox, and had no pity when he saw the galled neck bloody from the yoke-straps. He made the rivers dust, as he drank the water after his meal, beating off the troops of Neiades from the river-beds . . .
The old shepherd, terrified to descry the manifold visage of this maddened monster, dropt his pipes and ran away; the goatherd, seeing the wide-scattered host of his arms, threw his reed flying to the winds; the hard-working plowman sprinkled not the new-scored ground with corn thrown behind him, nor covered it with earth, nor cut with earth-shaking iron the land furrowed already by Typhon's guiding hand, but let his oxen go loose. The earth's hollows were bared, as the monster's missile cleft it. He freed the liquid vein, and as the chasm opened, the lower channel bubbled up with flooding springs, pouring out the water from under the uncovered bosom of the ground, and rocks were thrown up, and falling from the air I n torrential showers were hidden in the sea, making the waters dry land: and the hurtling masses of earth rooted themselves firmly as the footings of new-made islands. Trees were levered up from the earth by the roots, and the fruit fell on the ground untimely; the fresh-flowering garden was laid waste, the rosy meadows withered; the West Wind (Zephyros) was beaten by the dry leaves of whirling cypresses. Phoibos [Apollon] sang a dirge in lamentable tones for his devastated iris, twining a sorrowful song, and lamenting far more bitterly than for his clusters of Amyklaian flowers, when the laurel by his side was struck. Pan in anguish uplifted his fallen pine; Grayeyes [Athena], remembering Moria [the sacred olive], groaned over her broken olive-tree, the Attic Nymphe who brought her a city. The Paphian [Aphrodite] also wept when her anemone was laid to dust, and mourned long over the fragrant tresses of flowercups from her rosebed laid in the dust, while she tore her hair. Deo [Demeter] mourned over the half-grown corn destroyed and no longer celebrated the harvest home. The Hadryas Nymphai (Hamadryad Nymphs) lamened the lost shade of their yearsmate trees . . .
While she spoke, Phaethon [Helios the Sun] had left the rounded sky . . . silent Nyx (Night) leapt up from earth . . . The immortals moved about the cloudless (River) Nile [i.e. where they hid from Typhoeus in the guise of animals], but Zeus Kronides on the brows of [Mount] Tauros (Taurus) awaited the light of toil-awakening Dawn.
VI. TYPHOEUS CHALLENGES ZEUS
Nonnus, Dionysiaca cont. :
"It was night. Sentinels stood in line around Olympos and the seven zones [of the stars], and as it were from the summit of towers came their nightly alarms; the calls of the stars in many tongues were carried all abroad, and Selene's (the Moon's) turning-mark received the creaking echo from Kronos' (Cronus') starting-point [i.e. the star Saturn--here the celestial watchword is passed from star to star through the seven zones of heaven to the lowest zone of the Moon]. Now the Horai (Horae, Seasons), guardians of the upper air, handmaids of Phaethon, and fortified the sky with a long string of covering clouds like a coronal. The stars had closed the Atlantean bar of the inviolable gates lest some stealthy troop should enter the heavens while the Blessed ones were away . . .
Zeus was alone, when Nike (Victory) came to comfort him, scoring the high paths of the air with her shoe. She had the form of Leto; and while she armed her father, she made him a speech full of reproaches with guileful lips : ‘Lord Zeus! Stand up as champion of your own children! Let me never see Athene mingled with Typhon, she who knows not the way of a man with a maid! Make not a mother of the unmothered! Fight, brandish your lightning, the fiery spear of Olympos! Gather once more your clouds, lord of the rain! For the foundations of the steadfast universe are already shaking under Typhon's hands: the four blended elements are melted! Deo [Demeter] has renounced her harvests. Hebe has left her cup, Ares has thrown down his spear, Hermes has dropped his staff, Apollon has cast away his harp, and taken a swan's form, and flown off on the wing, leaving his winged arrows behind! Aphrodite, the goddess who brings wedlock to pass, has gone a wandering, and the universe is without seed. The bonds indissoluble of harmony are dissolved, leaving behind his generative arrows, the adorner of brides, he the all-mastering, the unmastered! And your fiery Hephaistos (Hephaestus) has left his favourite Lemnos, and dragging unruly knees, look how slowly he keeps his unsteady course! See a great miracle--I pity your Hera, though she hates me sure enough! What--is your begetter [Kronos] to come back into the assembly of the stars? May that never be, I pray! Even if I am called a Titenis (Titaness), I wish to see no Titan lords of Olympos, but you and your children. Take your lordly thunderbolt and champion chase Artemis . . .’
So she spoke: and Hypnos (Sleep) beating his shady wing sent all breathing nature to rest; but Kronion alone remained sleepless. Typhoeus stretched out his sluggish back and lay heavy upon his bed, covering his Mother Earth; she opened wide her bosom, and lurking lairs were hollowed out in a grinning chasm for the snaky heads which sank into the ground.
Helios the Sun appeared, and many-armed Typhoeus roared for the fray with all the tongues of all his throats, challenging mighty Zeus. That sonorous voice reached where the root-fixt bed of refluent Okeanos (Oceanus) surrounds the circle of the world and its four divided parts, girdling the whole earth coronet-wise with encircling band; as the monster spoke, that which answered the army of his voices, was not one concordant echo, but a babel of screaming sounds: when the monster arrayed him with all his manifold shapes, out rang the yowling of wolves, the roaring of lions, the grunting of boars, the lowing of cattle, the hissing of serpents, the bold yap of leopards, the jaws of rearing bears, the fury of gods. Then with his midmost man-shaped head the Gigante yelled out threats against Zeus : ‘Smash the house of Zeus, O my hands! Shake the foundations of the universe, and the blessed ones with it! Break the bar of Olympos, self-turning, divine! Drag down to earth the heavenly pillar, let Atlas be shaken and flee away, let him throw down the starry vault of Olympos and fear no more its circling course--for I will not permit a son of Earth to be bowed down with chafed shoulders, while he underprops the revolving compulsion of the sky! No, let him leave his endless burden to the other gods, and battle against the Blessed Ones! Let him break off rocks, and volley with those hard shots the starry vault which he once carried! Let the timid Horai (Seasons), Helios the Sun's handmaids, flee the heavens under the shower of mountains! Mix earth with sky, water with fire, sea with Olympos, in a litter of confusion!
‘I will compel the four Winds also to labour as my slaves; I lash Boreas the North Wind, I buffet Notos the South, I flog Euros the East; I will thrash Zephyros the West, with one hand I will mix night with day; Okeanos my brother shall bring his water to Olympos aloft with many-fountained throat, and rising above the five parallel circles he shall inundate the stars; then let the thirsty Bear [constellation Ursa] go wandering in the water with the Waggon's pole submerged!
‘Bellow, my bulls, shake the circle of the equator in the sky, break with your notched horns the horns of the fiery Bull [constellation Taurus], your own likeness! Let Selene the Moon's cattle change their watery road, fearing the heavybooming bellow of my heads! Let Typhaon's bear open wide his grim gaping jaws, and worry the Bear of Olympos! Let my lion face the heavenly Lion [constellation Leo], and drive him reluctant from the path of the Zodiac! Let the Waggon's Snake shiver at my serpents! Little do I care for Zeus, with only a few lightnings to arm him! Ah, but my swords are the maddened waves of the sea, the tors of the land, the island glens; my shields are the hills, the cliffs are my breastplates unbreakable, my halberts are the rocks, and the rivers which will quench the contemptible thunderbolt. I will keep the chains of Iapetos (Iapetus) for Poseidon; and the soaring round Kaukasos (Caucasus), another and better eagle shall tear the bleeding liver, growing for ever anew, of Hephaistos the fiery: since fire was the for which Prometheus has been suffering the ravages of his self-growing liver. I will take a shape the counterpart of the sons [the Aloadai giants] of Iphimedeia, and I will shut up the intriguing son of Maia [Hermes] in a brazen jar, prisoned with galling bonds, that people may say, "Hermes freed Ares from prison, and he was put in prison himself!" Let Artemis break the untouched seal of her maidenhood, and become enforced consort of [the giant] Orion; Leto shall spread her old bedding for [the giant] Tityos, dragged to wedlock by force. I will strip murderous Ares of his ragged bucklers, I will bind the lord of battle, and carry him off, and make the Killer the Gentle; I will carry off Pallas [Athena] and join her to [the giant] Ephialtes, married at last; that I may see Ares a slave, and Athena a mother.
‘Kronion [Zeus] also shall lift the spinning heavens of Atlas, and bear the load on weary shoulders--there shall he stand, and hear the song at my wedding, and hide his jealousy when I shall be Hera's bridegroom. Torches shall not lack at my wedding. Bright lightning shall come of itself to be selfmade torch of the bride-chamber; Phaethon [Helios the Sun] himself instead of pine-brands, kindled at the light of his own flames, shall put his radiance at the service of Typhoeus the Bridegroom; the stars shall sprinkle their bridal sparks over Olympos as lamps to my loves, the stars lights of evening! My servant Selene (the Moon), Endymion's bed-fellow, along with Aphrodite the friend of marriage, shall lay my bed; and if I want a bath, I will bathe in the waters of starry Eridanos. Come now, ye circling Horai (Seasons)! You prepared the bed of Zeus, build now the bower of love for Typhoeus; you also, Leto, Athenaia, Paphian [Aphrodite], Kharis (Charis), Artemis, Hebe, bring up from Okeanos his kindred water for Typhon the Bridegroom! And at the banquet of my table, with bridal quill Apollon my menial shall celebrate Typhoeus instead of Zeus.
‘I long for no stranger's demesne; for Ouranos (Uranus, the Sky) is my brother, a son of Gaia (Gaea, the Earth) like myself; the star-dappled heaven which I shall rule, the heaven which I shall live in, comes to me through my mother. And cannibal Kronos (Cronus) I will drag up once more to the light, another brother, to help me in my task, out of the underground abyss; I will break those constraining chains, and bring back the Titanes (Titans) to heaven, and settle under the same roof in the sky the Kyklopes (Cyclopes), sons of Gaia. I will make more weapons of fire; for I need many thunderbolts, because I have two hundred hands to fight with, not only a pair like Kronides [Zeus]. I will forge a newer and better brand of lightning, with more fire and flashes. I will build another heaven up aloft, the eight, broader and higher than the rest, and furnish it with brighter stars; for the vault which we see so close beside us is not enough to cover the whole of Typhon. And after those girl children and the male progeny of prolific Zeus, I will beget another multiparous generation of new Blessed Ones with multitudinous necks. I will not leave the company of the stars useless and unwedded, but I will join male to female, that the winged Virgin [constellation Virgo] may sleep with the Oxherd [Bootes] and breed me slave-children.’
So he shouted; Kronides [Zeus] heard, and laughed aloud.
VII. TYPHOEUS BATTLES ZEUS
Nonnus, Dionysiaca cont. :
"Then the din of battle resounded on both sides. Eris (Strife) was Typhon's escort in the mellay, Nike (Victory) led Zeus into battle. No herds of cattle were the cause of that struggle, no flocks of sheep, this was no quarrel for a beautiful woman, no fray for a petty town: heaven itself was the stake in the fight, the sceptre and throne of Zeus lay on the knees of Nike (Victory) as the prize of combat.
Zeus flogging the clouds beat a thundering roar in the sky and trumpeted Enyo's [the war-goddess'] call, then fitted clouds upon his chest as a protection against the Gigante's missiles. Nor was Typhoeus silent: his bull-heads were self-sounding trumpets for him, sending forth a bellow that made Olympos rattle again; his serpents intermingled whistled for Ares' pipes. He fortified the ranks of his high-clambering limbs, shielding mighty rock with rock until the cliffs made an unbroken wall of battlements, as he set crag by crag uprooted in along line. It looked like an army preparing for battle; for side by side bluff pressed hard on bluff, tor upon tor, ledge upon ledge, and high in the clouds one tortuous ridge pushed another; rugged hills ere Typhon's helmets, and his heads were hidden in their beetling steeps. In that battle, the Gigante indeed one body, but many necks, but legions of arms innumerable, lions' jaws with well-sharpened fangs, hairbush of vipers mounting over the stars. Trees were doubled up by Typhaon's hands and thrown against Kronides, and other fine leafy growths of earth, but all these Zeus unwilling burnt to dust with one spark of thunderbolt cast in a heavy throw. Many an elm was hurled against Zeus with firs coeval, and enormous plane-trees and volleys of white poplar; many a pit was broken in earth's flank.
The whole circuit of the universe with its four sides was buffeted. The four Winds, allied with Kronion, raised in their air columns of sombre dust; they swelled the arching waves, they flogged the sea until Sikelia (Sicily) quaked; the Pelorid shores resounded and the ridges of Aitna (Etna), the Lilybaian rocks bellowed prophetic things to come, the Pakhynian (Pachynian) promontory crashed under the western wave. Near the Bear, the Nymphe of Athos wailed about her Thrakian glen, the forest of Makedon (Macedonia) roared on the Pierian ridge; the foundations of the east were shaken, there was crashing in the fragrant valleys of Assyrian Libanos (Lebanon).
Aye, and from Typhaon's hands were showered volleys against the unwearied thunderbolts of Zeus. Some shots went past Selene's (the Moon's) car, and scored through the invisible footprints of her moving bulls; others whirling through the air with sharp whiz, the Winds blew away by counterblast. Many a stray shot from the invulnerable thunderbolts of Zeus fell into the welcoming hand of Poseidon, unsparing of his earthpiercing trident's point; old Nereus brought the brine-soaked bolts to the ford of the Kronion Sea, and dedicated them as an offering to Zeus.
Now Zeus armed the two grim sons of Enyalios [Ares], his own grandsons, Phobos (Rout) and Deimos (Terror) his servant, the inseparable guardsmen of the sky : Phobos he set up with the lightning, Deimos he made strong with the thunderbolt, terrifying Typhon. Nike (Victory) lifted her shield and held it before Zeus: Enyo [the war-goddess] countered with a shout, and Ares made a din. Zeus breasting the tempests with his aigis-breastplate swooped down from the air on high, seated in Khronos's (Time's) chariot with four winged steeds, for the horses that drew Kronion were the team of the Winds. Now he battled with lightnings, now with Levin; now he attacked with thunders, now poured out petrified masses of frozen hail in volleying showers. Waterspouts burst thick upon the Gigante's head with sharp blows, and hands were cut off from the monster by the frozen volleys of the air as by a knife. One hand rolled in the dust, struck off by the icy cut of the hail; it did not drop the crag which it held, but fought on even while it fell, and shot rolling over the ground in self-propelled leaps, a hand gone mad! As if it still wished to strike the vault of Olympos.
Then the sovereign of the heavens brandished aloft his fiery bolt, and passing from the left wing of the battle to the right, fought manifest on high. The many-armed monster hastened to the water torrents; he entwined his rows of fingers into a living mat, and hollowing his capacious palms, he lifted from the midst of the wintry rivers their waters as it came pouring down from the mountains, and threw these detached parcels of the streams against the lightning. But the ethereal flame blazed with livelier sparks through the water of the torrents which struck it; the thirsty water boiled and steamed, and its liquid essence dried up in the red hot mass. Yes--to quench the ethereal fire was the bold Gigante's plan, poor fool! He knew not that the fire-flaming thunderbolts and lightnings are the offspring of the clouds from whence the rain-showers come!
Again, he cut straight off sections of the torrent-beds, and designed to crush the breast of Zeus which no iron can wound; the mass of rock came hurtling at Zeus, but Zeus blew a light puff from the edge of his lips, and that gentle breath turned the whirling rock aside with all its towering crags. The monster with his hand broke off a rounded promontory from an island, and rising for the attack circled it round his head again and again, and cast it at the invincible face of Zeus; then Zeus moved his head aside, and dodged the jagged rock which came at him; but Typhon hit the lightning as it passed on its hot zigzag path, and at once the rock was white-patched at the tip and blackened with smoke--there was no mistake about it. A third rock he cast; but Kronion caught it in full career with the flat of his infinite open hand, and by a playful turn of the wrist sent it back like a bouncing ball to Typhon. The crag returned with many an airy twist along its homeward path, and of itself shot the shooter. A fourth shot he sent, higher than before: the rock touched the tassel-tips of the aigis-cape, and split asunder. Another he let fly: storm-swift the rock flew, but a thunderbolt struck it, and half-consumed, it blazed. The crags could not pierce the raincloud; but the stricken hills were broken to pieces by the rainclouds.
Thus impartial Enyo held equal balance between the two sides, between Zeus and Typhon, while the thunderbolts with booming shots revel like dancers in the sky. Kronides fought fully armed: in the fray, the thunder was his shield, the cloud his breastplate, he cast the lightning for a spear; Zeus let fly his thunderbolts from the air, his arrows barbed with fire. For already from the underground abyss a dry vapour diffused around rose from the earth on high, and compressed within the cloud was stifled in the fiery gullet, heating the pregnant cloud. For the lurking flame crushed within rushed about struggling to find a passage through; over the smoke the fire-breeding clouds rumble in their agony seeking the middle path; the fire dares not go upwards; for the lightning leaping up is kept back by the moist air bathed in rainy drops, which condenses the seething cloud above, but the lower part is parched and gapes and the fire runs through with a bound. As the female stone is struck by the male stone, one stone on another brings lame to birth, while crushed and beaten it produces from itself a shower of sparks: so the heavenly fire is kindled in clouds and murk crushed and beaten, but from earthly smoke, which is naturally thin, the winds are brought forth. There is another floating vapour, drawn form the waters, which the sun shining full on them with fiery rays milks out and draws up dewy through the boiling track of air. This thickens and produces the cloudy veil; then shaking the thick mass by means of the thinner vapour, it dissolves the fine cloud again into a fall of rain, and returns to its natural condition of water. Such is the character of the fiery clouds, with their twin birth of lightnings and thunders together.
Zeus the father fought on : raised and hurled his familiar fire against his adversary, piercing his lions, and sending a fiery whirlwind from heaven to strike the battalion of innumerable necks with their babel of tongues. Zeus cast his bolt, and one blaze burnt the monster's endless hands, one blaze consumed his numberless shoulders and the speckled tribes of his serpents; heaven's blades cut off those countless heads; a writhing comet met him front to front discharging a thick bush of sparks, and consumed the monster's hair. Typhon's heads were ablaze, the hair caught fire; with heaven's sparks silence sealed the hissing tresses, the serpents shrivelled up, and in their throats the poison-spitting drops were dried. The Gigante fought on : his eyes were burnt to ashes in the murky smoke, his cheeks were whitened with hoar-frost, his faces beaten with showers of snow. He suffered the fourfold compulsion of the four Winds. For if he turned flickering eyes to the sunrise, he received the fiery battle of neighbouring Euros (the East Wind). If he gazed towards the stormy clime of the Arkadian Bear [constellation Ursa Major in the north], he was beaten by the chilly frost of wintry whirlwinds. If he shunned the cold blast of snow-beaten Boreas (the North Wind), he was shaken by the volleys of wet and hot together. If he looked to the sunset, opposite to the dawn of the grim east, he shivered before Enyo and her western tempests when he heard the noise of Zephyros (the West Wind) cracking his spring-time lash; and Notos (the South Wind), that hot wind, round about the southern foot of Aigokeros (Aegocerus) [constellation Capricorn in the south] flogged the aerial vaults, leading against Typhon a glowing blaze with steamy heat. If again Rainy Zeus poured down a watery torrent, Typhoeus bathed all his body in trouble-soothing showers, and refreshed his benumbed limbs after the stifling thunderbolts.
Now as the son was scourged with frozen volleys of jagged hailstones, his mother dry Gaia (the Earth) was beaten too; and seeing the stone bullets and icy points embedded in the Gigante's flesh, the witness of his fate, she prayed to Titan Helios with submissive voice: she begged of him one red hot ray, that with its heating fire she might melt the petrified water of Zeus, by pouring his kindred radiance over frozen Typhon. She herself melted along with his bruised body; and when she saw his legion of highclambering hands burnt all round, she besought one of the tempestuous winter's blasts to come for one morning, that he might quench Typhon's overpowering thirst by his cool breezes.
Then Kronion inclined the equally balanced beam of the fight. But Gaia (the Earth) his mother had thrown off her veil of forests with her hand, and just then was grieving to behold Typhaon's smoking heads. While his faces were shrivelling, the Gigante's knees gave way beneath him; the trumpet of Zeus brayed, foretelling victory with a roll of thunder; down fell Typhoeus's high-uplifted frame, drunk with the fiery bolt from heaven, stricken with a war-wound of something more than steel, and lay with his back upon Gaia (the Earth) his mother, stretching his snaky limbs in the dust and belching flame.
VIII. ZEUS GLOATS OVER THE VANQUISHED TYPHOEUS
Nonnus, Dionysiaca cont. :
"Kronides [Zeus] laughed aloud, and taunted him like this in a flood of words from his mocking throat : ‘A fine ally has old Kronos found in you, Typhoeus! Gaia (the Earth) could scarcely bring forth that great son for Iapetos! A jolly champion of Titanes! The thunderbolts of Zeus soon lost their power against you, as I see! How long are you going to wait before taking up your quarters in the inaccessible heavens, you sceptred imposter? The throne of Olympos awaits you: accept the robes and sceptre of Zeus, God-defying Typhoeus! Bring back [the Titan] Astraios to heaven; if you wish, let [the Titanes] Eurynome and Ophion return to the sky, and Kronos (Cronus) in the train of that pair! When you enter the dappleback vault of the highranging stars, let crafty Prometheus leave his chains, and come with you; the bold bird who makes hearty meals off that rejuvenescent liver shall show him the way to heaven. What did you want to gain by your riot, but to see Zeus and Earthshaker [Poseidon] footmen behind your throne? Well, here you have Zeus helpless, no longer sceptre-bearer of Olympos, Zeus stript of his thunders and his clouds, holding up no longer the lightning's fire divine or the familiar thunderbolt, but a torch for Typhaon's bower, groom of the chamber to Hera the bride of your spear, whom he eyes with wrath, jealous of your bed: here you have Earthshaker with him, torn from the sea for a new place instead of the deep as waiter at your table, not trident in hand but a cup for you if you are thirsty! Here you have Ares for a menial, Apollon is your lackey! Send round Maia's son [Hermes], King's Messenger, to announce to the Titanes your triumph and your glory in the skies. But leave your smith Hephaistos to his regular work in Lemnos, and he can make a necklace to adorn your newly wedded bride, a real work of art, in dazzling colours, or a fine pair of brilliant shoes for your wife's feet to delight her, or he can build another Olympian throne of shining gold, that your golden-throned Hera may laugh because she has a better thrown than yours! And when you have the underground Kyklopes (Cyclopes) domiciled in Olympos, make a new spark for an improved thunderbolt. As for Eros (Love), who bewitched your mind by delusive hopes of victory, chain him with golden Aphrodite in chains of gold, and clamp with chains of bronze Ares the governor or iron!
‘The lightnings try to escape, and will now abide Enyo! How was it you could not escape a harmless little flash of lightning? How was it with all those innumerable ears you were afraid to hear a little rainy thud of thunder? Who made you so big a coward? Where are your weapons? Where are your puppyheads? Where are those gaping lions, where is the heavy bellowing of your throats like a rumbling earthquake? Where is the far-flung poison of your snaky mane? Do not you hiss any more with that coronet of serpentine bristles? Where are the bellowings of your bull-mouths? Where are your hands and their volleys of precipitous crags? Do you flog no longer the mazy circles of the stars? Do the jutting tusks of your boards no longer whiten their chins, wet with a frill of foamy drippings? Come now, where are the bristling grinning jaws of the mad bear?’
IX. ZEUS BURIES TYPHOEUS BENEATH MOUNT ETNA
Nonnus, Dionysiaca cont. :
"[Zeus speaks :] ‘Son of Gaia (Earth), give place to the sons of heaven! For I with one hand have vanquished your hands, two hundred strong. Let three-headland Sikelia (Sicily) receive Typhon whole and entire, let her crush him all about under her steep and lofty hills, with the hair of his hundred heads miserably bedabbled in dust. Nevertheless, if you did have an over-violent mind, if you did assault Olympos itself in your impracticable ambitions, I will build you a cenotaph, presumptuous wretch, and I will engrave on your empty tomb, this last message : "This is the barrow of Typhoeus, son of Gaia (the Earth), who once lashed the sky with stones, and the fire of heaven burnt him up."’
Thus he mocked the half-living corpse of the son of Gaia. Then Kilikian Tauros [Cicilian Mount Taurus] brayed a victorious noise on his stony trumpet for Zeus Almighty, while Kydnos danced zigzag on his watery feet, crying Euoi! In rolling roar for the victory of Zeus, [the river] Kydnos (Cydnus) visible in the midst, as he poured the flood upon Tarsos (Tarsus) which had been there ever since he had been there himself. But Gaia tore her rocky tunic and lay there grieving; instead of the shears of mourning, she let the winds beat her breast and shear off a coppice for a curl; so she cut the tresses from her forest-covered head as in the month of leaf-shedding, she tore gullies in her cheeks; Gaia (the Earth) wailed, as her river-tears rolled echoing through the swollen torrents of the hills. The gales eddying from Typhaon's limbs lash the waves, hurrying to engulf the ships and riding down the sheltered clam. Not only the surges they invade; but often over the land sweeps a storm of dust, and overwhelms the crops growing firm and upright upon the fields.
Then Physis (Nature), who governs the universe and recreates its substance, closed up the gaping rents in earth's broken surface, and sealed once more with the bond of indivisible joinery those island cliffs which had been rent from their bed . . .
Zeus Kronides . . . swiftly turned his golden chariot toward the round of the ethereal stars, while Nike by his side drove her father's team with the heavenly whip. So the god came once more to the sky; and to receive him the stately Horai (Seasons) threw open the heavenly gates, and crowned the heavens. With Zeus victorious, the other gods came home to Olympos, in their own form come again, for they put off the winged shapes which they had taken on. Athena came into heaven unarmed, in dainty robes with Ares turned Komos (Comus, Revelry), and Nike (Victory) for Melos (Song); and Themis (Order) displayed to dumbfounded Gaia (the Earth), mother of the Gigantes (Giants), the spoils of the Gigante destroyed, an awful war ning for the future, and hung them up high in the vestibule of Olympos."
ADDENDUM : LYDIAN PRIEST RESTRAINS TYPHOEUS
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 13. 473 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"There [in Stataloi in Lydia] Typhoeus, spouting up the hot stream of the fiery thunderbolt, had kindled the neighbouring country, and as Typhon blazed amid clouds of smoke, the mountains were burnt to ashes, while his heads melted in the limb-devouring flame. But the priest of Lydian Zeus left the fragrant temple redolent of incense, and without steel made with piercing words, a word for a spear, no cutting steel, and brought the Son of Earth (Ge) to obedience with his tongue; his bold mouth was his lance, his word a sword, his voice a shield, and this was all that issued from his inspired throat--‘Stand, wretch!’
So the flaming Gigas (Giant) by magic art was held fast in chains of glammery by the invincible word, and stood in awe of a man armed with a spear of the mind, while the avenging word shackled him in fetters not made of steel. That awful giant towering high trembled not so much at the Archer of Thunderbolts ([Zeus], as for the battlecrashing magician shooting bolts of speech from his tongue. He gave way, as the sharp words pierced him with wounds speaking in quick words. Already scorched with flame, thrust through with a redhot spear, Typhoeus gave way at the other fire hotter still, a fire of the mind. His snaky feet were rooted firm and immovable by main force, firmly fixt in Gaia (the Earth) his mother, his body wounded by a bloodless blade that made no mark. But all this was done in time gone by, among men of a more ancient generation."
ADDENDUM : MISCELLANY
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 24. 43 ff :
"If Typhoeus in rebellion had bent his bold neck and submitted, your [Dionysos's] father Zeus, Lord in the highest, would have checked his lightning, his overwhelming threat would have been cast aside and forgotten."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 24. 102 ff :
"The daughters of the River Kydnos (Cydnus) . . . Naiades well skilled in warfare, whom Kilikian (Cilician) Typhoeus had taught battle while he was fighting against Kronion (Cronion) [Zeus]."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 48. 77 ff :
"Typhoeus [one of the Gigantes in the War of the Giants] towering high had stript the mountains of Emathia--a younger Typhoeus in all parts like the older, who once had lifted many a rugged strip of his mother earth,--and cast the rocky missiles at Dionysos."
- Nonnus, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th A.D.