Typhon

Typhon is a huge monster from Greek mythology. Not the kind of guy you’d want showing up with your Niagara wedding caterers. As is not uncommon in Greek mythology, there are a lot of different stories about his origins, many of them conflicting. It seems to be generally accepted that he is the offspring of either Gaia (who is basically Earth) or Hera, goddess of women and marriage and family and that sort of thing. Another tradition has his the offspring of Cronus (big scary titan guy). Which would actually make him the brother of Hera, if I’m not mistaken. It all gets a little confusing with all these origin myths floating around.

It’s also unclear what exactly Typhon looks like. We definitely have a consensus that he was huge and horrible, but other than that, sources all seem to differ slightly. So first we’ve got Hesiod’s description. Hesiod was a Greek poet who was probably kicking around about the same time as Homer, so somewhere between 750 and 650 BC. He describes Typhon as having one hundred terrifying snake heads, each one of which spit fire and had horrifying, fiery eyes. And each head emitted some different terrible noise. It all sounds rather unpleasant. Pindar, another Greek poet mentions Typhon in four of his poems, three of which give Typhon one hundred heads, and one of which gives him fifty. Long story short, pretty safe to say Typhon was blessed with one hundred noggins.

Well, that is, if you accept that Typhon had a lot of heads at all. We have another source that claims he was pretty human-ish from the waist up. Well … except for the wings … . And there was nothing human about this guy’s leg-parts, according to this account, which attributes to him two snake tails acting as legs and feet. Imagine that running towards you. Shudder.

For a lot of detail, get a hold of the poet Nonnus’s Dionysiaca. Super descriptive bit on Typhon in there, giving him the heads of all kinds of creatures. Basically, though, we get the idea that Typhon is huge, lots of heads, very snaky, spits fire and venom, snake legs, wings. Just altogether a pretty terrifying force of nature. So, we have a big dragony creature. What next? Ah, yes, of course, the slaying of said creature by the hero! The hero in this case, being Greek mythology and all, will be the mighty and powerful Zeus!

There are a couple accounts of Typhon’s slaying, one of which we can find in Hesiod, wherein Zeus launches himself down from Olympus and burns all of Typhon’s heads, and then throws his remains Tartarus. Thus, Zeus saves humanity from being ruled by Typhon. Thanks, Zeus. There are many other accounts of Typhon’s defeat, including Epimenides’s version, in which Typhon sneaks up on a sleeping Zeus, but Zeus wakes up and kills him with a thunderbolt. In Pindar’s account of events, the gods have to disguise themselves as animals and bail to Egypt to escape Typhon, but don’t worry! Typhon is still destroyed by Zeus’s thunderbolt. Long story short, Typhon is a bad dragon, but Zeus will always beat him. Thanks, Zeus.