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Fountain of the Gigantes in the gardens of Versailles

In Greek mythology, Enceladus (or Enkelados, Ἐγκέλαδος) was one of the Gigantes, the enormous children of Gaia (Earth) fertilised by the blood of castrated Ouranos (Aphrodite arose from the same origins, yet no myth connected her with the Gigantes).

With the other Gigantes, Enceladus appeared in one particular region—either Phlegra, the "burning plain" in Thrace (Bibliotheke 1.6.1; Gaius Julius Hyginus, Fabulae, Proem). The location was removed to Magna Graecia in Hellenistic times: Strabo, in Alexandria, identified Phlegrae with the Phlegraean Plain in Campania, near Cumae.(Kerenyi 1951 pp 28f, noting Bibliotheke 1.6.1)

During the battle between the Gigantes and the Olympian gods, Enceladus was disabled by a spear thrown by the goddess Athena. He was buried on the island of Sicily, under Mount Etna. The volcanic fires of Etna were said to be the breath of Enceladus, and its tremors to be caused by him rolling his injured side beneath the mountain (similar myths are told about Typhon and Vulcan). In Greece, an earthquake is still sometimes called a "strike of Enceladus".

In Euripides' satyr play Cyclops the minor god Silenus claims to have dealt Enceladus' death blow, but this was perhaps intended by the author as a vain drunken boast, since Silenus also claims to have sent the Gigantes flying with the braying of his ass.


References

  • Apollodorus, i.6.1
  • Gaius Julius Hyginus|Hyginus, Fabulae, proem
  • Hesiod, Theogony v.183
  • Virgil, Aeneid III, 578-582
  • Robert Graves, 1960. The Greek Myths, 35.f, .h.