There might be gods and monsters, but rarely are you going to hear about a god who is also a monster. That’s exactly what Typhon is, and it’s why he’s one of the most fearsome deities that you can face.
He’s most often described as the most powerful and fearsome god in Greek legend, so it’s no wonder his name stirs up so much fear and awe.
He was a giant that was so tall that his head touched the stars. His torso was that of a man, but his legs were coils of vipers that would hiss and attack as he moved. His main head had on it 100 snakeheads who would make different sounds of animals. His eyes were glowing red and would terrify everyone who looked upon them, and he had what was called a savage jaw which would breathe fire. His body had hundreds of different wings on it and his hands were made up of 100 snake coils just like his legs.
As we said before, Typhon is a god, and he’s the child of Gaia and Tartarus. Gaia was the earth goddess and Tartarus was a murderous bottomless pit. Some myths say that Hera wanted to create a god more powerful than Zeus, so she had these two gods give birth to Typhon.
Typhon is also known as Typhoeus, Typhaon, Typhos, Typho and by many other names, but the story still remains the same. His hands stretched east and west and some of his heads were actually dragon heads. He had a filthy, matted beard and pointed ears, and there was fire in his eyes.
Typhon was known as the father of all monsters. He was like a fire-breathing dragon with 100 heads, and he never slept. Typhon was married to Echidna, who was considered to be the mother of all monsters.
The Children of Typhon
The two of them had children, such as the Sphinx who would kill anyone who couldn’t solve her riddles. Oedipus answered one of her riddles correctly, and the Sphinx drowned herself in despair.
They also gave birth to the Nemean lion (a huge lion, terrorized the land of Nemea), which had impenetrable skin. Heracles was forced to kill this lion as a part of his Twelve Labors. They also gave birth to Cerberus, which was a three-headed dog that was the guardian of the Underworld.
Some sources say that Typhon had as many as 100 heads, all of varying animals such as bulls, boars, and the like. When he was a volcano-demon, Typhon hurled red rocks straight at heaven and fire boiled from his mouth.
Along with the other monsters, we mentioned, Typhon and Echidna also had the monsters Orthrus, who was a two-headed dog who lived with giants. They also spawned Ladon, a serpent-like dragon that had to guard the golden apple in a mythical garden. The Lernaean Hydra was an ancient water monster like a serpent that had multiple heads which would come back and multiply if they were cut off. They gave birth to the Caucasian Eagle, which was an eagle that ate the liver of Prometheus every day. They also gave birth to the Chimera, which is a fire-breathing creature that has the head of a goat, the body of a lion, and a tail that has the head of a snake on it.
The bottom half of him that was viper coils could fully stretch up to his head when he wanted it to, and the viper coils were constantly hissing. Typhon was so powerful that he even struck fear into the Olympian gods.
Typhon has a soot black color and is filthy from head to toe, but especially with his hair.
There’s an alternate story that’s been told where Hera is the mother of Typhon, but the more likely story is the one we told where Hera beseeched Gaia and Tartarus to have this child between them.
Typhon and Zeus
Typhon had many battles with Zeus in the ancient mythology and in one story Typhon actually destroyed cities and even threw mountains in his absolute rage. Many of the Olympian gods were afraid of Typhon after this, and so they changed into their animal form. Only Dionysus, Athena, and Zeus remained in their regular forms.
Athena actually claimed that Zeus was a coward, and this led the god to attack Typhon before he could take Mount Olympus, which is the home of all of the Olympian gods. Zeus then hit Typhon with 100 lightning bolts, which had him cornered. Once he defeated Typhon, Zeus cast him into the bottomless pit of Tartarus. Once Typhon was sent into Tartarus, Zeus put an entire mountain, Mount Etna, over the hole to stop Typhon from escaping again.
Since Typhon is so fearsome and is a fire-breathing monster, it’s believed that volcanic eruptions are the result of Typhon trying to escape from the mountain. The same is true of earthquakes, which are seen as movements of the earth that are triggered by Typhon trying to escape.
He was sent to Earth to put an end to Zeus and the world and was more than able to do it. Typhon spat molten rock, and after the gods ran away only Athena was capable of convincing the gods to stand and fight.
In another fight with Zeus, his thunderbolts were no match for Typhon, who defeated the god easily. He dragged him off to a cave and removed some tendons to make it so that the god could not escape and so that Typhon could torture the god at his leisure. Hermes and Pan decided to go help out Zeus, and so they went to the cave and popped Zeus’s muscles back into place. His immortality did the rest of his healing, and he lived to fight another day.
After this, a ten thousand year battle ensued between Typhon and the gods, and it finally ended with Zeus trapping Typhon under Mount Etna where he would forever be trapped to be a volcano.
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