The Gigantomachia of Tifeo and Mimante: the giants who created Ischia and Procida

by Federico Quagliuolo

Ischia and Procida are two tombstones on the body of two giants. Literally. Or at least this is what the Greeks tell us in Gigantomachy, the struggle between the gods of Olympus and an army of monsters of colossal height, snake tails for legs and superhuman strength.

It was a battle that also came to Magna Graecia and gave rise to islands of the Campania Archipelago.

In short, if today we are passionate about the series Attack on Titan, we can say we are closer to the Greeks than one might think.

Ischia Tifeo Gigante
The birth of Ischia, the island that crushes Tifeo

The Gigantomachy: a struggle for the revenge of the Earth

It all started a few years before the start of the war against the giants. In the beginning, the Greeks tell us, there was in fact the Titanomachy, or the battle of the Titans stirred up by Mother Earth, Gaea, against Zeus and Olympus. The goal was destroy the Greek Gods and restore the balances of the primordial forces of the Universe, which they themselves represented. The war lasted 10 years, ended with a massacre which generated a large part of the current Greek lands, but the Olympian deployment prevailed and he punished the rebellious Titans in a cruel and ferocious way.

Gaea did not stand by and watch. So it was that gave birth to 24 giants, with the purpose of finishing the work that the Titans had failed to complete, ending the dictatorship of Zeus. The war of the Gigantomachy was fought by Greece up to Campi Flegrei and gave rise to numerous islands: later bloody battles where he often was Hercules to intervene in a way resolutive, the bodies of the giants were physically crushed by immense stones hurled by the gods for bury them alive below sea level. It is no coincidence that these "Islands of giants" are found in territories a strong telluric activity, like Sicily or the Phlegraean Fields: every movement of the earth it is in fact due to a jolt of the creature under the rock and each crater, such as the one that characterizes Nisida or the various lakes of the Phlegraean area, are evidently sons of boulders or lightning bolts of Zeus.

Almost everyone talks about these myths Greek and Latin authors, from Ovid to Apollodorus and Pindar, even reaching the naturalist Pliny the Elder.

Zeus Gigantomachia
Zeus throwing lightning at a giant

Mimante, the giant buried by iron

The first rebel giant from Campania was Mimante, in Greek Μίμας. Compared to the other giants, he was gifted with an impenetrable armor and from legs covered with dragon scales. In the Gigantomachy he was the challenger of Hephaestus, the blacksmith of the gods, who did defeated thanks to the weapons he produced. Then, having it stunned, threw it into the sea and threw it at him a mass of molten iron which became the Island of Procida.

Gigante Tifeo Ischia Gigantomachia
The giant Tifeo with the harpies

Tifeo, the giant who terrified Olympus

Tifeo is a bit the sequel to the Gigantomachy which, like the battle with the Titans, it ended badly for the rebels. Gaea was heartbroken and furious for the death of all her children and it was for this reason that gave birth to a last more powerful and devastating monster of all its predecessors, with only one task: kill Zeus. Others believe it was a giant just like everyone else and participated in the gigantomachy.

Era a man as tall as a mountain, some say it even had two terrifying wings and the legs similar to the body of a snake.

His figure is present in numerous authors of all time and also the point of his death it is often questioned: authors like Pindar identified it with the Sicily, other times with Ischia (Homer speaks of "land of the Inarimi", which was Ischia), still others even with Syria or Egypt (since Tifeo had as children the Sphinx e Cerberus).

We will take the thesis of the Latin, which they all agreed with Ischia, as the good one also tells us Virgil. More diplomatically speaking, it is very likely that the Greeks, that they exported their culture to all the colonies, they taught their own mythology, wich was adopted and "made their own" by all indigenous peoples.

Tifeo put all Olympus to flight and by now he was one step away from the enterprise, but again this time Zeus, with a very powerful lightning bolt, he struck the enemy in full and threw him into the sea. Then he threw it a boulder of gigantic proportions on and thus was born Ischia and its Mount Epomeo.

Compared to Procida, which does not have nothing in its toponyms that recalls its gigantic origin, Ischia preserves in its localities a memento of the monster's presence: its localities, such as Panza, Mouth and Eyelash, they are in fact right the pieces of Tifeo remained under the island.

-Federico Quagliuolo

Luciano De Crescenzo, Zeus - The deeds of the gods and heroes
Archaeological Museum of Pithecusa

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