He who makes the Sky tremble

Let’s examine a bit Typhon and the Hekatonkheires, characters of the Greek mythology.

The Hekatonkheires may represent the lightning; they are Briareos (“strong”), Kottos (“he who strikes”) and Gyges (“that has many limbs”): lightnings are strong, they strike (the ground and trees) and have many limbs/branches/discharges. The Hekatonkheires are described as having hundred arms and fifty heads that spit fire. I think that the numerous arms and heads can be a reference to the countless branches/discharges of which is composed a lightning. They spit fire because indeed a lightning “spits” fire the moment when it strikes a tree.

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Typhon, according to Hesiod, fathered the stormy winds and ancient sources associate his name to the Greek term “tuphon/tuphos”, that translates as “whirlwind”. So Typhon symbolizes the whirlwind (and the strong storms) and this would give sense to the fact that “with his hands he was able to catch the stars and with his legs was able to cross the Aegean Sea with four steps”.

However the description of Typhon also suggests a similarity with the lightning: “he had immeasurable limbs…with his hands he was able to catch the stars…in his shoulders he had hundred snakes that instead of hiss sometimes barked as dogs, sometimes roared as lions…each of the legs was formed by two twisted dragons…from his eyes protruded tongues of fire”. It seems plausible that the “snakes” may be the discharges of the lightning while the barks and roars can refer to the thunder, the sound of lightning. It would make sense, because storms (or better, thunderstorms…) often bring with them lightnings and thunders.

In the context of lightning, Typhon can be compared to Loki (which name means “lightning”): they both have a monstrous and particular offspring. Typhon has generated the Chimera, the Hydra, the Sphynx, Cerberus and others while Loki has generated Fenrir, Hel, Sleipnir and the Miðgarðsormr. Loki is often followed by Thor and Typhon is defeated by Zeus.

In any case the battle between Typhon and Zeus (the Sky God) can at least be seen as a symbolical contrapposition between the Whirlwind (or strong storm) and the Sky, after which, thanks to the victory of Zeus, peace and serenity returns in the firmament!

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7 thoughts on “He who makes the Sky tremble

  1. Pingback: Ancestor's Voice

  2. Pingback: About Zeus and Typhon | Ancestor's Voice

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