Typhon | Mythic Creature

Typhon Greek Mythology

Typhon, Typhoon, Typhon or Typhus (in classical Greek: Τυφωευς, Τυφων, Τυφαων, Τυφως, transl. Typhôeus, Typhôn, Typhaôn, Typhôs), is a giant of mythology to whom the Greeks imputed the paternity of the fierce and violent winds. He is the son of Gaia and Tartarus.

In syncretism with the Egyptian myth of Osiris, Typhon was identified with the giant Set, who was responsible for the drought of the Nile, and who, out of envy of his fecundity, had killed him. Set will be avenged later by his son Horus.

Along with his wife Echidna, Typhon was the father of several of the monsters that populate the adventures of heroes and gods, such as: the Lion of Nemeia, fought by Hercules; the Hydra of Lerna or the Sphinx, in the fusion with the Nilotic myths; of the dogs Ortros and Cerberus.

Hesiod describes him thus:

The vigorous hands of this giant worked without rest, and his feet were indefatigable; upon his shoulders stood the hundred heads of a fearsome dragon, and from each protruded a black tongue; from the eyes of the monstrous heads gushed a bright flame;

astonishing to behold, they uttered a thousand inexplicable sounds, and sometimes so shrill that the gods themselves could not hear them; sometimes the mighty bellowing of a wild bull, sometimes the roar of a fierce lion; often - O prodigy! - the barking of a dog, or the piercing cries of which the high mountains resounded.

Typhon is a horrifying beast born to end Zeus and Olympus. Son of the vengeful Gaia and the sinister Tartarus, a primordial god who lives cloistered in the depths. He was responsible for the mass flight of the Olympian gods, because he is capable of instilling great dread. He won the first fight against Zeus, but was defeated in the second.


Gaia, the Earth, to avenge the defeat of her children by the Cronids in Titanomachy, united with Tartarus, begetting Typhon, identified as the personification of earthquake and high winds. He lived in a cave, whose atmosphere he poisoned with toxic fumes.

He was so large that his head touched the celestial stars and his hands went from east to west. His spread wings could cover the sun, from his shoulders came Dragons, 50 from each shoulder.

He was so hideous that everyone rejected him, even his brothers, the Titans. From his mouth he spat fire in chains, and hurled incandescent rocks into the heavens.

Fighting Olympus

In order to carry out his mother's revenge, Typhon began to climb Mount Olympus, causing all its inhabitants to flee; the gods metamorphosed into animals and fled to Egypt (which is why, according to the Greeks, they gave their gods zoomorphic configurations).

Apollo became a falcon (Horus), Hermes an ibis (Tote), Ares a lion (Onúris), Artemis a cat (Neite or Bastet), Dionysus a goat (Osiris or Arsafes), Heracles a deer, Hephaestus an ox (Ptah), and Leto a shrew (Uto). Only Athena had the courage to remain in human form.

From Egypt, Zeus came to take refuge on Mount Cassius in Syria, where he faced the gigantic enemy. From there he struck Typhon with his thunderbolts, but the latter managed to knock him down and, with a harpe, cut off the muscles of his limbs, making a bundle of them, which he kept in a bear skin. The rays and the amputated limbs were entrusted to Delphim - a dragon - in the Corcian den in Cilicia.

In the attack, Typhon had summoned all the dragons, which, so many there were, darkened the day. Having lost his rays, Zeus had suggested to Cadmo that he disguise himself as a shepherd, make a hut, and with the sound of his flute, attract the monster.

Nonos thus records the episode: "Sing, he said to him, Cadmo; you will restore the heavens to their original serenity.

Typhon has snatched away my lightning; I have only the aegis left; but what can it avail me against the mighty flames of lightning? Be a shepherd for a day, and let your flute serve to restore the empire to the eternal shepherd of the world.

Your services will not go unrewarded; you will be the repairer of the harmony of the universe, and the beautiful Harmonia, daughter of Mars and Venus, will be your wife."

Attracted by the music, Typhon approaches; Cadmo (in other myths, it would have been Hermes) pretends to be frightened by the lightning, and the monster, to calm him, leaves the lightning in a cave where Zeus, bringing down a cloud so as not to be noticed, retrieves his weapons and muscles.

In possession of his powers again, Zeus forces Typhon to flee to Mount Nisa where the Parcas feed him, for he was starving, fruit that diminishes his strength. Still on the run he reaches Thrace where for so much of the blood spilled he named Mount Hemos.

Still pursued, Typhon goes to Sicily and then Italy where Zeus, concentrating all his forces, fulminates all the heads of the monster that falls on the earth with a thunderous crash, dead.

Relationship to other myths

Hades, bothered by the strange agitations of Etna caused by Typhon, had come out to the surface to see what was occurring, thus beginning the episode of Persephone's abduction.

Cadmo, for his help, had been presented by Zeus with the bride Harmonia, to whose nuptials several gods had flocked.

The nine daughters of Piero, King of Macedon defied the Muses, ridiculing the flight of the gods cowardly disguised in animals, out of fear of Typhon.


Several monsters had paternity attributed to Typhon and his wife Echidna - the only one who could bear his terrible appearance, since other titanids and primordial goddesses rejected him - born to Crisaor who, in turn, had been born - like Pegasus - from the blood shed by Medusa.

Sphinx, monster who had brought terror to Thebes and defeated by Oedipus.
Ortros, guard dog of Geryon's flock, killed by Hercules
Lion of Nemeia, also killed by Hercules, was turned into a constellation.
Hydra of Lernaeus, in whose blood Hercules soaked his arrows so that his wounds were incurable, after defeating it with help from Iolaeus.

Scylla - Monster of the legend of Ulysses or Odysseus, she is considered the daughter of Typhon and Echidna in some ancient versions of the legends.
Cerberus, guardian of the entrance to Hades.
Chimera, killed by Bellerophon.
Dragon of Colchis, killed by Jason and the Argonauts;
Ladon, killed by Hercules.