Original French: plus que oncques ne feirẽt les Aloides,
Modern French: plus que oncques ne feirent les Aloides,
The Olympic gods were more frightened by the possibility that the herb Pantagruelion might carry Pantagruel’s progeny to the heavens, than they had been by the assault of the Aloides: the giants Otus and Ephialtes, sons of Poseidon by Aleous’ wife Iphimedeia. In their pursuit of the goddesses Artemis and Hera, the Aloides piled mountain on mountain to get to heaven. They were cut down in their quest by Apollo. Or perhaps while hunting they shot each other when Artemis ran between them in the form of a deer.
In Chapter Three of Le Tiers Livre, Panurge considers what the world would be like without debt, and concludes that it would produce nothing but monsters, like the Titans, the Aloides, and the giants. A giant himself, Pantagruel did not take umbrage at this. (Rabelais added the Aloides to the list of monsters in the 1552 edition of Le Tiers Livre.) Pantagruel was descended from the line of giants through Aloeus and Otus.
1. Smith, William (1813-1893), A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1867. (note)
2. Homer (8th Century B.C.), Odyssey. A. T. Murray, translator. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1909. (note)
3. Wikipedia. (note)
4. Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Le Tiers Livre. Des faictz et dictz Heroïques du noble Pantagruel: composez par M. François Rabelais docteur en Medicine. Paris: Michel Fezandat, 1552. (note)
5. Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Pantagruel. Les horribles et espouvantables faictz & prouesses du tresrenommé Pantagruel Roy des Dipsodes, filz du grand geant Gargantua, Composez nouvellement par maistre Alcofrybas Nasier. Lyon: Claude Nourry, 1532. (note)
Artemis and the Aloadai
Artemis sends a deer running between the Aloadai giants which they both attempt to strike with spears. In the myth, they miss, and accidentally kill each another. The goddess nevertheless aims her bow at the pair.
plus que oncques ne feirẽt les Aloides
C’est-à-dire, les dieux effrayés se sont écriés: Pantagruel, avec son chanvre, nous a causé plus de peur et d’embarras que les géants qui combattirent le ciel. Les Aloïdes sont les géants Othus et Épiales, fils du géant Aloeus
Œuvres de Rabelais (Edition Variorum)
Charles Esmangart [1736-1793], editor
Paris: Chez Dalibon, 1823
Nome de deux géans qui tentérent d’escalader l’Oympe.
Œuvres de F. Rabelais
L. Jacob (pseud. of Paul Lacroix) [1806–1884], editor
Paris: Charpentier, 1840
Otus and Ephialtes. Cf. iii. 3, n. 23.
Gargantua and Pantagruel
William Francis Smith [1842–1919], translator
Nom de Géants. Cf. ch. III, n. 35.
Oeuvres. Tome Cinquieme: Tiers Livre
Abel Lefranc [1863-1952], editor
Paris: Librairie Ancienne Honoré Champion, 1931
Erasme, Adages, III. X. XCIII, Gigantum arrogantia (cf. plus haut, XXVIII, 122 :« Tu ferois pis que les Géants »).
Le Tiers Livre
Michael A. Screech, editor
Paris-Genève: Librarie Droz, 1964
De l’origine & antiquité du grand Pantagruel
Et le premier fut Chalbroth, qui engendra Sarabroth, qui engendra Faribroth, qui engendra Hurtaly, qui fut beau mangeur de souppes & regna au temps du deluge, qui engendra Nembroth, qui engendra Athlas qui avecques ses espaules guarda le ciel de tumber, qui engendra Goliath, qui engendra Eryx [lequel feut inventeur du ieu des gobeletz], qui engendra Titius, [qui engendra Eryon:] qui engendra Polyphemus, qui engendra Cacus [qui engendra Etion, lequel premier eut la verolle pour avoir dormi la gueule baye comme tesmoigne Bartachim], qui engendra Enceladus, qui engendra Ceus, qui engendra Typhoeus, qui engendra Aloeus, qui engendra Othus, qui engendra Aegeon, qui engendra Briareus qui avoit cent mains…
Lyon: Claude Nourry, 1532
Panurge’s eulogy of debts
Un monde sans debtes. La entre les astres ne sera cours regulier quiconque. Tous seront en desarroy. Juppiter ne s’estimant debiteur a Saturne, le depossedera de sa sphaere, & avecques sa chaine Homericque suspendera toutes les intelligences, Dieux, Cieulx, Daemons, Genies, Heroes, Diables, Terre, mer, tous elemens. Saturne se r’aliera avecques Mars, & mettront tout ce monde en perturbation. Mercure ne vouldra soy asservir es autres, plus ne sera leur Ca mille, comme en langue Hetrusque estoit nommé. Car il ne leurs est en rien debteur. Venus ne sera venerée, car elle n’aura rien presté. La Lune restera sanglante & tenebreuse. A quel propous luy departiroit le Soleil sa lumiere? Il n’y estoit en rien tenu. Le Soleil ne luyra sus leur terre: les Astres ne y feront influence bonne. Car la terre desistoit leurs prester nourrissement par vapeurs & exhalations: des quelles disoit Heraclitus, prouvoient les Stoiciens, Ciceron maintenoit estre les estoilles alimentées. Entre les elemens ne sera symbolisation, alternation, ne transmutation aulcune. Car l’un ne se reputera obligé a l’autre, il ne luy avoit rien presté. De terre ne sera faicte eau: l’eau en aër ne sera transmuée: de l’aër ne sera faict feu: le feu n’eschauffera la terre. La terre rien ne produira que monstres, Titanes, Aloides, Geans: Il n’y pluyra pluye, n’y luyra lumiere, n’y ventera vent, n’y sera esté ne automne. Lucifer se desliera, & sortant du profond d’enfer avecques les Furies, les Poines, & Diables cornuz, vouldra deniger des cieulx tous les dieux tant des majeurs comme des mineurs peuples.
[Aloides not mentioned in 1546 ed.]
Le Tiers Livre
Paris: Michel Fezandat, 1552
Les Bibliotèques Virtuelles Humanistes
In Greek mythology, the Aloadae or Aloads (Ancient Greek: Ἀλωάδαι Aloadai) were Otus (or Otos) (Ὦτος) and Ephialtes (Ἐφιάλτης), sons of Iphimedia, wife of Aloeus, by Poseidon, whom she induced to make her pregnant by going to the seashore and disporting herself in the surf or scooping seawater into her bosom. From Aloeus they received their patronymic, the Aloadae. They were strong and aggressive giants, growing by nine fingers every month, nine fathoms tall at age nine, and only outshone in beauty by Orion.
The brothers wanted to storm Mt. Olympus and gain Artemis for Otus and Hera for Ephialtes. Their plan, or construction, of a pile of mountains atop which they would confront the gods is described differently according to the author (including Homer, Virgil, and Ovid), and occasionally changed by translators. Mount Olympus is usually said to be on the bottom mountain, with Mounts Ossa and Pelion upon Ossa as second and third, either respectively or vice versa. Homer says they were killed by Apollo before they had any beards, consistent with their being bound to columns in the Underworld by snakes, with the nymph of the Styx in the form of an owl over them.
According to another version of their struggle against the Olympians, alluded to so briefly that it must have been already familiar to the epic’s hearers, they managed to kidnap Ares and hold him in a bronze jar, a storage pithos, for thirteen months, a lunar year. “And that would have been the end of Ares and his appetite for war, if the beautiful Eriboea, the young giants’ stepmother, had not told Hermes what they had done,” Dione related (Iliad 5.385–391). He was only released when Artemis offered herself to Otus. This made Ephialtes envious and the pair fought. Artemis changed herself into a doe and jumped between them. The Aloadae, not wanting her to get away, threw their spears and simultaneously killed each other.
The Aloadae were bringers of civilization, founding cities and teaching culture to humanity. They were venerated specifically in Naxos and Boeotian Ascra, two cities they founded. Ephialtes (lit. “he who jumps upon”) is also the Greek word for “nightmare”, and Ephialtes was sometimes considered the daimon of nightmares. In the Inferno of Dante’s Divine Comedy Ephialtes is one of four giants placed in the great pit that separates Dis, or the seventh and eighth circles of Hell, from Cocytus, the Ninth Circle. He is chained.
Book 11, Line 305ff. Odysseus recounting the souls of the dead he encountered in Hades.
“And after her I saw Iphimedeia, wife of Aloeus, who declared that she had lain with Poseidon. She bore two sons, but short of life were they, godlike Otus, and far-famed Ephialtes—men whom the earth, the giver of grain, reared as the tallest, and far the comeliest, after the famous Orion. For at nine years they were nine cubits in breadth and in height nine fathoms. Yea, and they threatened to raise the din of furious war against the immortals in Olympus. They were fain to pile Ossa on Olympus, and Pelion, with its waving forests, on Ossa, that so heaven might be scaled. And this they would have accomplished, if they had reached the measure of manhood; but the son of Zeus, whom fair-haired Leto bore [Apollo], slew them both before the down blossomed beneath their temples and covered their chins with a full growth of beard.
A. T. Murray, translator
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1909
Aloeidae (Alôeidai, Alôïaoai or Alôadai) are patronymic forms from Aloeus, but are used to designate the two sons of his wife Iphimedeia by Poseidon: viz. Otus and Ephialtes. The Aloeidae are renowned in the earliest stories of Greece for their extraordinary strength and daring spirit. When they were nine years old, each of their bodies measured nine cubits in breadth and twenty-seven in height. At this early age, they threatened the Olympian gods with war, and attempted to pile mount Ossa upon Olympus, and Pelion upon Ossa. They would have accomplished their object, says Homer, had they been allowed to grow up to the age of manhood; but Apollo destroyed them before their beards began to appear. (Od. xi. 305, &c.) In the Iliad (v. 385, &c.; comp. Philostr. de Vit. Soph. ii. 1. § 1) the poet relates another feat of their early age. They put the god Ares in chains, and kept him imprisoned for thirteen months; so that he would have perished, had not Hermes been informed of it by Eriboea, and secretly liberated the prisoner. The same stories are related by Apollodorus (i. 7. § 4), who however does not make them perish in the attempt upon Olympus. According to him, they actually piled the mountains upon one another, and threatened to change land into sea and sea into land. They are further said to have grown every year one cubit in breadth and three in height. As another proof of their daring, it is related, that Ephialtes sued for the hand of Hera, and Otus for that of Artemis. But this led to their destruction in the island of Naxos, (Comp. Pind. Pyth. iv. 156, &c.) Here Artemis appeared to them in the form of a stag, and ran between the two brothers, who, both aiming at the animal at the same time, shot each other dead. Hyginus (Fab. 28) relates their death in a similar manner, but makes Apollo send the fatal stag. (Comp. Callim. Hymn. in Dian. 264; Apollon. Rhod. i. 484, with the Schol.) As a punishment for their presumption, they were, in Hades, tied to a pillar with serpents, with their faces turned away from each other, and were perpetually tormented by the shrieks of an owl. (Munck, ad Hygin. l. c.; Virg. Aen. vi. 582.) Diodorus (v. 50, &c.), who does not mention the Homeric stories, contrives to give to his account an appearance of history. According to him, the Aloeidae are Thessalian heroes who were sent out by their father Aloeus to fetch back their mother Iphimedeia and her daughter Pancratis, who had been carried off by Thracians. After having overtaken and defeated the Thracians in the island of Strongyle (Naxos), they settled there as rulers over the Thracians. But soon after, they killed each other in a dispute which had arisen between them, and the Naxians worshipped them as heroes. The foundation of the town of Aloïum in Thessaly was ascribed to them. (Steph. Byz. s. v.) In all these traditions the Aloeidae are represented as only remarkable for their gigantic physical strength; but there is another story which places them in a different light. Pausanias (ix. 29. § 1) relates, that they were believed to have been the first of all men who worshipped the Muses on mount Helicon, and to have consecrated this mountain to them; but they worshipped only three Muses–Melete, Mneme, and Aoide, and founded the town of Ascra in Boeotia. Sepulchral monuments of the Aloeidae were seen in the time of Pausanias (ix. 22. § 5) near the Boeotian town of Anthedon. Later times fabled of their bones being seen in Thessaly. (Philostr. i. 3.)
OTUS (Ôtos), a son of Poseidon and Iplimedeia, was one of the Aloeidae. (Hom. Il. v. 385, Od. xi. 305; Pind. Pyth. iv. 89; Apollod. i. 7. § 4.)
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology
Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1867
Making of America
The Aloadai (or Aloadae) were twin giants who attempted to storm the home of the gods by piling three Greek mountains — Olympos, Ossa and Pelion — one on top of the other.
Ares tried to stop them but was defeated and imprisoned for thirteen months in a bronze urn, until he was rescued by Hermes. Artemis later brought about their destruction when she raced between them in the form of a deer. They both took aim with their spears, but missed and instead struck each other dead.
Curiously the two were also attributed with the founding of the cult of the Muses on Mt. Helikon.
The Aloadai giants were portrayed in classical art as a pair of youthful hunters with caps and hunting spears. They were often confounded with or included in lists of the Thrakian Gigantes who waged war on the gods. Their name, Aloadai, was derived from the Greek verb aloaô, meaning “to crush” or “thresh.” Individually they were named “nightmare” (Greek ephialtês) and “doom” (from oitos) or else “horned-owl” (Greek ôtos). Many of the other giants were also associated with birds, including Porphyrion the purple-coot and Alkyoneus the kingfisher.
[Includes a listing of classical references to the Aloadai.]