The Ancient Library

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On this page: Geryon or Geryones – Gigantes – Gladiatores



also jurisdiction in the case of all offences which were punishable by death or loss of civil rights. They sat in judgment, if neces­sary, even on the kings, in later times asso­ciating the ephors with them in this func­tion. Their authority, like that of the kings, suffered considerable restriction at the hands of the ephors. They had a similar position in the Cretan constitution, accord­ing to which only the members of the highest magistracy, called the Cosmoi, or regulators, could enter the council, and that after a blameless term of administration.

Geryon, or Gery5nes. A giant with three bodies and powerful wings, the son of Chrysaor and CallirrhSe. He dwelt in the island of Erytheia, lying in the ocean, in the extreme west; and was the possessor of a herd of red cattle, watched by the shep­herd Eurytlon, and a two-headed dog called Orthros. It was one of the twelve labours of Heracles to carry off these cattle, and after a violent contest to slay the pursuing Geryon with his arrows.

GIgantSs (Giants). In Homer the Gi-•yantes are a wild and gigantic race of aborigines, kinsmen of the gods, as are the CyclopSs and Phseacians. With their king EurymSdon, they are destroyed for their wickedness. Hesiod makes them the sons of Gsea, sprung from the blood of the muti­lated Uranus. Neither Hesiod nor Homer know anything of their struggle with the gods (OigantSmacMa), the story of which seems to be a reflexion of the myth of the Titans, and their contest with the gods, and to be associated with local legends. The two are often confused by later poets. The place of the contest was Phlegra, or the place of burning. Phlegra was always localized in volcanic regions. In the earlier stories it is on the Macedonian peninsula of Pallene ; and in later times on the Phle-graean plains in Campania between Cumae and Capua, or again at Tartessus in Spain. Led on by AlcySneus and Porphyrion, they hurled rocks and burning trunks of trees against heaven. But the gods called Heracles to their assistance; a prophecy having warned them that they would be unable to destroy the giants without the aid of a mortal. Heracles slew not only Alcyoneus, but gave the others, whom the gods had struck down, their quietus with his arrows. As Ence-ladus was flying, Athene threw the island of Sicily upon him. P6K'botes was buried by PSseidon under the island of Nisyros, a piece of the island of Cos, which Poseidon had broken off with his trident, with all

the giants who had fled there. Besides these, the following names are given among others : Agrios, Ephialtes, Pallas, Clytlos, EurytSs, Hippolytos, Thfion.

In the oldest works of art the Giants are represented in human form and armed with harness and spears. But in course of time their attributes became terrific, awful faces, long hanging hair and beard, the skins of wild animals for ga-ments, trunks of trees and clubs for weapons. In the latest representations, but not before, their bodies end in two scaly snakes instead of feet (see cut). In the GigantSmdchla of


Cp. Giant to right of pebqakbnx scclptokbs, fig. 1.

(Roman relief in Vatican Museum.)

Pergamfis, the grandest representation of the subject in antiquity, we find a great variety of forms; some quite human, others with snakes' feet and powerful wings, others with still bolder combinations of shape; some are naked, some clothed with skins, some fully armed, and others slinging stones. (See pergamene sculptubes.)

Gladlatores. The Latin name for the combatants who fought each other for life or death at the public shows. They first appear in Rome in 264 B.C., and only at the celebrations of private funerals, or in games given in memory of a private individual. Entertainments of this kind were often pro­vided for in wills. The custom, like others of the same kind, seems to have come from Etruria, where it was a survival of the human sacrifices formerly usual at funerals. These gladiatorial contests soon became a very favourite form of popular entertain­ment, and in the last century of the republic were held to be an excellent means of win-

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All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.