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Enceladus (giant)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Athena (left) fighting Enceladus (inscribed retrograde) on an Attic red-figure dish, c. 550–500 BC (Louvre CA3662)[1]
Athena (left) fighting Enceladus (inscribed retrograde) on an Attic red-figure dish, c. 550–500 BC (Louvre CA3662)[1]

In Greek mythology, Enceladus (Ancient Greek: Ἐγκέλαδος, romanizedEnkélados) was one of the Giants, the offspring of Gaia (Earth), and Uranus (Sky). Enceladus was the traditional opponent of Athena during the Gigantomachy, the war between the Giants and the gods, and was said to be buried under Mount Etna in Sicily.


Enceladus was one of the Giants, who (according to Hesiod) were the offspring of Gaia, born from the blood that fell when Uranus was castrated by their son Cronus.[2] The Giants fought Zeus and the other Olympian gods in the Gigantomachy, their epic battle for control of the cosmos.[3] A Giant named Enceladus, fighting Athena, is attested in art as early as an Attic black-figure pot dating from the second quarter of the sixth century BC (Louvre E732).[4] In literature, references to the Giant occur as early as the plays of the fifth-century BC Greek tragedian Euripides, where, for example, in Euripides' Ion, the chorus describes seeing on the late sixth-century Temple of Apollo at Delphi, Athena "brandishing her gorgon shield against Enceladus".[5] Although traditionally opposed by Athena, Virgil and others have Enceladus being struck down by Zeus.[6] In Euripides' comic satyr play Cyclops, Silenus, the drunken companion of the wine god Dionysus, boasts of having killed Enceladus with his spear.[7]

The third-century BC poet Callimachus has Enceladus buried under the island of Sicily,[8] and according to the mythographer Apollodorus, Athena hurled the island of Sicily at the fleeing Enceladus during the Gigantomachy.[9] The Latin poets Virgil, Statius and Claudian all locate his burial under Mount Etna,[10] although other traditions had the monster Typhon or the Hundred-Hander Briareus buried under Etna.[11] For some Enceladus was instead buried in Italy.[12]

The Latin poet Horace has Enceladus use trees as spears.[13] The second-century geographer Pausanias reports that a Tegean statue of Athena was called "horse goddess", because according to a local account, Athena "drove the chariot and horses against Enceladus".[14] Claudian calls Enceladus "all powerful king of the Earth-born giants",[15] and has Gaia, imagining the Giants victorious, propose that "Enceladus, rule the sea".[16]

The Dionysiaca

The fifth-century Greek poet Nonnus, in his poem Dionysiaca, mentions Enceladus as one of the several Giants that Dionysus battles in the Gigantomachy.[17] Nonnus has Gaia set the Giants against Dionysus, promising Enceladus Athena as his wife should the Giants subdue Dionysus.[18] Dionysus fought Enceladus with fire, but Enceladus was ultimately defeated by Zeus: "[Dionysus] roasted the Giants' bodies with a great conflagration, an image on earth of the thunderbolt cast by Zeus. The torches blazed: fire was rolling all over the head of Encelados and making the air hot, but it did not vanquish him—Encelados bent not his knee in the steam of the earthly fire, since he was reserved for a thunderbolt."[19]

Cause of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes

Enceladus (like other vanquished monsters, thought to be buried under volcanos)[20] was said to be the cause of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.[21] Mount Etna's eruptions were said to be the breath of Enceladus, and its tremors to be caused by him rolling over from side to side beneath the mountain. So, for example Virgil:

Enceladus, his body lightning-scarred,
lies prisoned under all, so runs the tale:
o'er him gigantic Aetna breathes in fire
from crack and seam; and if he haply turn
to change his wearied side, Trinacria's isle
trembles and moans, and thick fumes mantle heaven.[22]

the c. 1st-century poem Aetna (perhaps written by Lucilius Junior):

In Trinacrian waters Enceladus dies and is buried under Aetna by Jove's decree; with the ponderous mountain above him he tosses restlessly, and defiantly breathes from his throat a penal fire.

and Claudian:

In the midst of the island rise the charred cliffs of Aetna, eloquent monument of Jove’s victory over the Giants, the tomb of Enceladus, whose bound and bruisèd body breathes forth endless sulphur clouds from its burning wounds. Whene’er his rebellious shoulders shift their burden to the right or left, the island is shaken from its foundations and the walls of tottering cities sway this way and that.

Ancient art

Athena (right) and Giant (presumably Enceladus) Attic black-figure neck amphora, c. 550–500 BC (Munich 1612).[23]
Athena (right) and Giant (presumably Enceladus) Attic black-figure neck amphora, c. 550–500 BC (Munich 1612).[23]

The battle between Athena and Enceladus was a popular theme in Greek vase paintings,[24] with examples from as early as the middle of the sixth century BC.[25] We know, from the description given in Euripides' Ion, that the battle was depicted on the late sixth-century BC Temple of Apollo at Delphi.[26]

The east pediment of the Old Temple of Athena on the Acropolis of Athens, dating from the late sixth century, prominently displayed Athena standing over a fallen giant, possibly Enceladus.[27] The battle was probably also depicted on the new peplos (robe) presented to Athena on the Acropolis of Athens as part of the Panathenaic festival.[28]

In later art and literature

Gilt-bronze Enceladus by Gaspar Mercy in the Bosquet de l'Encélade in the gardens of Versailles
Gilt-bronze Enceladus by Gaspar Mercy in the Bosquet de l'Encélade in the gardens of Versailles

At Versailles, Louis XIV's consistent iconographic theme of the triumphs of Apollo and the Olympians against all adversaries included the fountain of Enceladus in its own cabinet de verdure, which was cut into the surrounding woodland and outlined by trelliswork; the ensemble has recently been restored (illustration). According to an engraving of the fountain by Le Pautre (1677), the sculptor of the gilt-bronze Enceladus was Gaspar Mercy of Cambrai.[29]

William Shakespeare mentions "Enceladus" in Titus Andronicus, Act 4, sc. 2, L 96. "I tell you younglings, not Enceladus."[30]

John Keats mentions Enceladus among the Titans in his "Hyperion" (1818/1819).[31]

Porthos is likened to Enceladus when he is buried in a rock fall in The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas.

In Herman Melville's Pierre, the image of Enceladus appears multiple times; the protagonist identifies with Enceladus in a dream.[32]

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, inspired by the suffering of the Second Italian War of Independence, wrote his poem "Enceladus" in 1859.[33]


Enceladus, a moon of the planet Saturn, is named after the mythological Enceladus. Its south pole is interspersed with massive geysers of ice and water vapor that shoot hundreds of miles from its interior. The moon is considered by scientists to be one of the most likely locations in the Solar System to offer some habitability potential for microscopic life.[34][35][36]

One of two surviving Short Belfast military transport aircraft is dubbed "Enceladus".

In Antarctica, there is a grouping of nunataks (ridge) on Alexander Island called the Enceladus Nunataks—but these nunataks were named after Saturn's moon, not after the giants of Greek mythology.

The Finnish eSports organisation ENCE takes its name from Enceladus.[37]


  1. ^ Beazley Archive 200059, LIMC Gigantes 342.
  2. ^ For the birth of the Giants see Hesiod, Theogony 185. Hyginus, Fabulae Preface gives Tartarus as the father of the Giants.
  3. ^ Apollodorus, 1.6.1.
  4. ^ Gantz, pp. 450–451; Arafat, p. 16; Beazley 14590, LIMC Gigantes 170.
  5. ^ Euripides, Ion 205–218. See also Euripides, Heracles 906–908.
  6. ^ See for example Cook 1925, p. 909; Arafat, p. 16. For Zeus as Enceladus' opponent see, for example, Batrachomyomachia ("Battle of Frogs and Mice"), 277–283 (pp. 560–561); Virgil, Aeneid 3.578 ff.; Statius, Thebaid 11.8 (pp. 390–391); Propertius, Elegies 2.1.39–40 (pp. 82–83); Lucilius Junior (?), Aetna 71–73 (pp. 8–9). See also Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica (or Fall of Troy), 5.641–643 (pp. 252–253) and 14.582–585 (pp. 606–607) where, respectively, Enceladus is struck by Zeus, and buried under Sicily by Athena.
  7. ^ Euripides, Cyclops 1–9.
  8. ^ Callimachus, fragment 117 (382) (pp. 342–343).
  9. ^ Apollodorus, 1.6.2. See also Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica (or Fall of Troy), 14.582–585 (pp. 606–607).
  10. ^ Virgil, Aeneid 3.578 ff. (with Conington's note to 3.578); Statius, Thebaid 11.8 (pp. 390–391); Claudian, Rape of Proserpine 1.153–159 (pp. 304–305), 2.151–162 (pp. 328–331), 3.186–187 (pp. 358–359). See also the poem Aetna (perhaps written by Lucilius Junior), 71–73 (pp. 8–9); Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 5.16 (pp. 498–501).
  11. ^ For Typhon, see Pindar, Pythian 1.15–29, Olympian 4.6–7; Aeschylus (?), Prometheus Bound 353–374; Nicander, apud Antoninus Liberalis 28; Ovid, Fasti 4.491–492 (pp. 224–225), Metamorphoses 5.346 ff. (which has Typhon buried under all of Sicily, with his left and right hands under Pelorus and Pachynus, his feet under Lilybaeus, and his head under Etna); Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 2.23 ff.; Manilius, Astronomica 2.874–880 (pp. 150–151); Seneca, Hercules Furens 46–62 (pp. 52–53), Thyestes 808–809 (pp. 298–299) (where the Chorus asks if Typhon has thrown the mountain (presumably Etna) off "and stretched his limbs"); Apollodorus, 1.6.3; Hyginus, Fabulae 152; b scholia to Iliad 2.783 (Kirk, Raven, and Schofield. pp. 59–60 no. 52); Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 5.16 (pp.498–501); Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 2.17.5 (pp. 198–201); Nonnus Dionysiaca 2.622–624 (I pp. 90–91) (buried under Sicily). For Briareus see Callimachus, Hymn 4 (to Delos) 141–146 (pp. 96–97); Mineur, p. 153.
  12. ^ Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 2.17.5 (pp. 198–201).
  13. ^ Horace, Odes 3.4.49–51.
  14. ^ Pausanias, 8.47.1.
  15. ^ Claudian, Rape of Proserpine 3.351 (pp. 370–371). However Apollodorus 1.6.1 has Porphyrion and Alcyoneus as the two most preeminent Giants, while Pindar, Pythian 8.12–18 has the Giant Porphyrion, and Homer, Odyssey 7.56–63 has the Giant Eurymedon, as king.
  16. ^ Claudian, Gigantomachia 32–33 (pp. 282–283).
  17. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 25.90 (II, pp. 256–257); 48.70 (III, pp. 428–429).
  18. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 48.22 (III, pp. 426–427).
  19. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 48.67–70 (III, pp. 428–429).
  20. ^ Besides Mount Etna, Typhon was also said to be buried under the volcanic island of Ischia the largest of the Phlegraean Islands off the coast of Naples, see Lycophron, Alexandra 688–693 (pp. 550–551); Virgil, Aeneid 9.710 (calling the island "Inarime"); Strabo, 5.4.9 (calling the island "Pithecussae"); Ridgeway, pp. 35–36; Silius Italicus, Punica 8.540; Claudian, Rape of Proserpine 3.183–184 (pp. 358–359). Prochyte, another one of the volcanic Phlegraean Islands was supposed to sit atop the Giant Mimas (Silius Italicus, Punica 12.143 ff, which also has Iapetus buried under Inarime). Under Mount Vesuvius lay the Giant Alcyoneus (Claudian, Rape of Proserpine 3.183–184 (pp. 358–359)), while Philostratus, On Heroes 8.15–16 (p. 14), remarks on local tales of "many giants" buried there. The Titan Atlas was identified with the volcano Mount Atlas and the Atlas Mountains, Plumptre, p. 129, note 1. See also Cook 1940, note 5, pp. 2–6; Durling, p. 495, note to Canto 31.108 "Ephialtes suddenly shook himself"; Lemprière p. 456 "MYCŎNOS"; Andrews, p. 81.
  21. ^ Lazaridou-Varotsos, p. 42.
  22. ^ Virgil, Aeneid 3.570–587.
  23. ^ Beazley Archive 303466.
  24. ^ Woodard, p. 301; Frazer, note to Pausanias 8.47.5 "Enceladus", Vol. IV pp. 431, 432; Ely, p. 69.
  25. ^ Sixth century examples include: Louvre E732 (Beazley Archive 14590, LIMC Gigantes 170 image 4/4 [Athena and Enceladus]), Getty 82.AE.26 (Beazley Archive 10148: Fragment: Heracles, Athena, horses of Zeus' chariot, Porphyrion and Enceladus), Lourve CA3662 (Beazley Archive 200059, LIMC Gigantes 342), Munich 1612 (Beazley Archive 303466), Cleveland 78.59 (Beazley Archive 5168, Perseus Cleveland 78.59 (Vase)). Fifth century examples include: Berlin F2531 (Beazley Archive 220533: detail showing Athena v. Enceladus, Cook 1940, p. 56, Plate VI); Cleveland 78.59 (Beazley Archive 5168; Perseus Cleveland 78.59 (Vase)). See also Ely, FIG. I, and p. 67 ff. and Tillyard, pp. 34–35, no. 26, Plate 3, no. 26.
  26. ^ Stewart, pp. 86–87.
  27. ^ Schefold, pp. 64–67; Weller p. 315.
  28. ^ Parker p. 201; Boardman, p. 137; Frazer, Vol. II p. 576 note 2.
  29. ^ "Encelade de bronze dorée, accablé sous des rochers, et poussant en l'air un gros jet d'eau. / Dans les Jardins de Versailles. / Par Gaspar Mercy de Cambray. // Enceladus ex aere aurato, saxis obrutus, ingentem aquae vim ore euomens. / In hortis Versaliarum. / Opus Gasparis de Mercy Cameracensis." [1] Archived 2006-12-01 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ Folger Shakespeare Library – Titus Andronicus, page 136-137, copyright 2005
  31. ^ Keats, J. (1909). The poems of John Keats. Dodd, Mead and co. p. 221. Retrieved 2014-10-15.
  32. ^ Erik Kielland-Lund, "Existential Incest: Melville's Use of the Enceladus Myth in Pierre", American Studies in Scandinavia 28:1:52 (1996) full text
  33. ^ Horace Elisha Scudder, ed., The complete poetical works of Longfellow p. 201
  34. ^ "Cassini Images of Enceladus Suggest Geysers Erupt Liquid Water at the Moon's South Pole". Retrieved 2006-03-22.
  35. ^ Mosher, Dave (26 March 2014). "Seeds of Life Found Near Saturn". Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  36. ^ "Cassini Tastes Organic Material at Saturn's Geyser Moon". NASA. 26 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-26.
  37. ^ Organisation website


This page was last edited on 29 September 2020, at 13:37
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