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Athena bests a less-than-gigantic ENKELADOS on an Attic red-figure dish, ca. 525 BCE
This article is about the mythological giant; for the moon of Saturn, see Enceladus (moon).

In Greek mythology, Enceladus (or Enkelados, Ἐγκέλαδος/"Trumpeter to Arms") was one of the Gigantes, the enormous children of Gaia (Earth) fertilized by the blood of castrated Ouranos.[1] With the other Gigantes, Enceladus appeared in one particular region—either Phlegra, the "burning plain" in Thrace[2], or Pallene.[3]

Like the other Gigantes, Enceladus had serpent-like lower limbs, "with the scales of dragons for feet" as Bibliotheke states, though this convention was not invariably followed in pictorial representations.[4]

During the battle between the Gigantes and the Olympian gods, Enceladus was disabled by a spear thrown by the goddess Athena (illustration, right). 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 often called a "strike of Enceladus".

Comparison with the labeled figure shows that this is Enceladus, too: Attic black-figure amphora, ca. 520 BCE

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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.

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.[5]

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

Namesakes

Enceladus, a moon of the planet Saturn, is named after the mythological Enceladus.

Notes

  1. ^ Aphrodite arose from the same origins, yet no myth connected her with the Gigantes.
  2. ^ Bibliotheke 1.6.1; 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.
  3. ^ Kerenyi 1951 pp 28f, noting Bibliotheke 1.6.1; Stephanus Byzantinus s.v. "Phlegra" resolves the conflict by declaring Phlegra the old name for Pallene.
  4. ^ "Pausanias denied that the giants were serpent-footed (Paus. 8.29.3), but they are often so represented on the later monuments of antiquity." (Sir James George Frazer, note to Apollodorus, Library and Epitome 1.6.1
  5. ^ "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]

References

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