After the giants were defeated by Zeus, Mother Earth became enraged over the fate of her sons. In order to punish the gods and avenge her fallen offspring Gaia slept with Tartarus and became pregnant with her youngest child Typhon. Born in the Corycian Cave of Cilicia, he was the largest and most dreadful of all her children. His body was as tall as the heavens and his massive arms stretched one hundred leagues to the east and to the west. Instead of hands, a countless number of serpent's heads grew from his wrists.
His legs were in the form of coiled snakes and from his back he sprouted a huge pair of bat wings which he used to block out the sun. Upon his neck sat the head of an ass. His eyes flashed red and his mouth spewed flaming rocks at all that crossed his path.
In some instances Typhon is described as having a feathered covered body with one hundred dragon heads growing from his neck. Each of these heads were able to speak using the voices of both man and beast.
Typhon was sometimes referred to as The Demon of the Whirlwind and is identified with any type of violent storm or hurricane. It is said that he was carried to the cave of Echidne on the breath of a hot malicious wind. It was there in her den hidden deep below the land of Arima that Typhon took her for his wife. Together the two produced a large family of monstrous children which you can read about on my page dedicated to Echidne.
So it came to be that Typhon, wanting to have sovereign rule over the universe decided to wage a savage war against Zeus and the other Olympians. One has to wonder if his mother Gaia played any part in this decision, for she still harbored a great deal of resentment towards the king of the gods. Typhon's assault upon Mount Olympus was so frightful that the gods promptly donned the shapes of animals and fled into the land of Egypt.
Zeus transformed himself into a ram; Apollo a crow; Dionysus a goat; Hera a white cow; Artemis a cat; Aphrodite a fish, Ares a boar and Hermes an ibis. Like a true warrior, Athena alone remained behind to defend Olympus from the onslaught of the monster.
When she loudly proclaimed that his actions were that of a coward, Zeus regained his true form and bombarded Typhon with lightning bolts. He then armed himself with the flint sickle used to castrate his grandfather Uranus and when Typhon was within arm's length sliced open the creature's flesh.
Immediately the wounded Typhon took flight to Mount Casius, but it was not long before he was once again face to face with mighty Zeus. The two fought a physical battle so fierce that even the Titans imprisoned deep inside the hollows of Tartarus shook with fear.
Typhon wrapped his many coils around his adversary and dislodged the sickle from his hand. He then severed the sinews of the god's hands and feet and dragged him into a cave. It was here that Zeus was left to remain forever, unable to move and because he was immortal unable to die. Typhon then hid the sinews in the folds of a bearskin and assigned a serpent tailed monster named Delphyne to be its guardian.
Devastated over Zeus' defeat, Pan and Hermes quietly crept to the cave where the god was being kept prisoner. Pan jumped out of the darkness and let out such a tremendous shout that Delphyne ran away in terror. Hermes then retrieved the sinews from the bearskin and skillfully placed them back into the limbs of Zeus.
In another version it is Cadmus who regains possession of the sinews by telling Delphyne that he was in need for some new strings for his lyre. He then promised that as soon as the instrument was complete he would be back to serenade her with beautiful music.
Believing him, Delphyne turned over the godly tendons, but as soon as they left her hands Apollo took aim and shot her dead with one of his arrows.
Zeus returned to Olympus where he mounted a chariot drawn by winged horses, filled his hands with thunderbolts and set off to find his would-be captor. Typhon had taken refuge on Mount Nysa where he encountered Lachesis, Clotho and Atropos, better known as the three Fates. The crafty old women offered him a bite of the ephemeral fruits that could be found growing about the mountain top. They deceived Typhon into thinking that just one taste would instantly restore his strength, when in reality the magical morsels left him tired and weak.
With Zeus on his tail, Typhon managed to reach Thrace where the two continued their battle around Mount Haemus. Typhon lifted whole mountains into the air and hurled them at the god, but Zeus used his powerful thunderbolts to rebound them right back. Typhon's blood ran hot upon the rocky summit and it is said that from this blood was born the dragon who would later stand guard over the golden fleece.
Unrelentingly, Typhon made his way to Sicily where Zeus ended the fight by casting Mount Etna on top of him. To this day one can still see the fiery breath of the monster belching through the cone of the mountain.
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