The Hecatonchires in Greek Mythology

Updated on April 28, 2018
Colin Quartermain profile image

Having travelled through Italy, Greece and the Aegean in his youth, Colin quickly became interested in the ancient mythology of the region.

The stories of Greek mythology are not simply tales of the exploits of gods and heroes, as the world that the gods and heroes inhabited was complete with other mythical creatures and mortals.

Some of the mythical creatures that were thought to inhabit Ancient Greece are still famous today, with the likes of the Cyclopes and Centaurs, instantly recognisable. Many other mythical creatures though, are all but forgotten, and the likes of the Hecatonchires are known to only a small percentage of the world’s population.

Greek mythological sources for the Hecatonchires

The lack of fame of the Hecatonchires is perhaps surprising, as they are mentioned in many famous sources from antiquity; including the Bibliotheca (Pseudo-Apollodorus), The Argonautica (Apollonius Rhodius) and Metamorphoses (Ovid). The primary source for the Hecatonchires though comes from Hesiod, in the Theogony, the genealogy of the gods.

The Early Existences of the Hecatonchires

The story of the Hecatonchires begins in the time before the rise of Zeus and the gods of Mount Olympus. The cosmos was relatively new, and the supreme deity of the time Ouranus (god of the sky) would mate with Gaia (goddess of the earth).

Gaia would subsequently give birth to three brothers, who were named Briareos (also known as Aegaeon), Cottus and Gyes; the three brothers being known collectively as the Hecatonchires. At the same time Ouranus and Gaia also became parents to three other brothers, the Cyclopes.

The name Hecatonchires means “hundred handed”, although this might not have been the most noted feature, for they were gigantic in form, and were each said to have sported 50 heads.

Ouranus saw the power, and the ugliness, of the Hecatonchires once born, and fearful for his position as supreme deity, imprisoned his own sons within Tartarus; Tartarus being the hell pit of the underworld. The Hecatonchires would be joined in Tartarus by their brothers, the Cyclopes, as Ouranus was equally afraid of them.

The imprisonment of her children caused much pain to Gaia, both mentally and physically, as Tartarus was to be found deep within her. This was one of the reasons why Gaia would convince her other children, the Titans, to rise up against their father.

Kronos would assume the mantel of supreme deity, but Kronos was as afraid of the Hecatonchires and Cyclopes, as his father had been; and so the Hecatonchires remained imprisoned. This time though, they had a special prison guard, as the dragon Kampe was put in place.


John Martin (1789–1854)  PD-art-100
John Martin (1789–1854) PD-art-100 | Source

Freedom for the Hecatonchires

The Hecatonchires would only be freed when Zeus and his brothers rose up against their father, Kronos. Zeus needed some allies to aid him in the insurrection, and Zeus received some guidance from Gaia, his grandmother.

Gaia told him that allies awaited him within Tartarus, and so Zeus took the long and dangerous journey to Tartarus, killed Kampe and released the Hecatonchires and Cyclopes from their imprisonment.

The Cyclopes would make the weapons for the Olympian gods, whilst the Hecatonchires took a more active part in the fighting of the Titanomachy. Each Hecatonchire was able to lift up and throw 100 mountain-sized rocks in one go, bombarding the Titans and their allies. The strength of the Hecatonchires was a great boon to Zeus, and ultimately the Olympians were victorious in the war.

The Titanomachy

Joachim Wtewael (1566–1638)  PD-art-100
Joachim Wtewael (1566–1638) PD-art-100 | Source

The Hecatonchires after the Titanomachy

The Hecatonchires were rewarded for their efforts in the Titanomachy. Poseidon offered Briareos his daughter, Cymopolea, in marriage; and the pair would then be given a palace deep in the Aegean Sea. Cottus and Gyes would also be rewarded with underwater palaces, though theirs were located in the depths of the River Oceanus, the earth encircling river.

The Hecatonchires were also given the task of being prison guards in Tartarus, their erstwhile prison; as in Tartarus, Zeus had imprisoned many of the defeated Titans. In Ancient Greece the three Hecatonchires would also be responsible for the release of storm winds from the depths of Tartarus.

Briareos comes to Zeus' Rescue

Antiquariat Dr. Haack Leipzig  PD-life-100
Antiquariat Dr. Haack Leipzig PD-life-100 | Source

The Acrocorinth

Institute for the Study of the Ancient World CC-BY-2.0
Institute for the Study of the Ancient World CC-BY-2.0 | Source

Hecatocnhires in Later Myths

After the Titanomachy, the Hecatonchires all but disappear from Greek mythological stories. There are though a couple of occasions when the Hecatonchire Briareos is mentioned.

Homer tells of Briareos once again aiding Zeus. At the time, Poseidon, Hera and Athena were plotting to bind up Zeus, but the Naiad Thetis discovered the plot. Thetis called upon the assistance of Briareos, who came and stood by Zeus, and the mere presence of the gigantic Hecatanochire was enough to dissuade the other gods from continuing with their plans.

Briareos would also act as arbitrator during a dispute between Poseidon and Helios. The two gods were arguing about the division of worship that was to come from Corinth. Briareos made the decision that would see the Isthmus of Corinth given over to Poseidon, whilst the Acrocorinth, the monolithic rock overlooking the city, was given to Helios.

An Explanation of the Hecatonchires

Giants were a common theme in Greek mythology, although they tended to be troublesome for the gods of Mount Olympus, for both the Gigantes and Typhon went to war with the gods. The Hecatonchires though were allied to Zeus and the Olympian gods.

The Hecatonchires were probably simply invented to help the Ancient Greeks explain the world in which they lived in, with the three brothers being the personifications of storms, earthquakes and tsunamis, the natural phenomenon which could throw large rocks around.

Questions & Answers

  • Did one the Hecatonchires break a blood oath made with Zeus and later got punished by the Furies as depicted in "God Of War: Ascension" on PS3?

    The God of War game series has brought the names of many mythological figures into the consciousness of many younger people. The developers of the game have been liberal with their take on the ancient myths, and the Hecatonchires, in ancient mythology, were considered some of the most loyal of Zeus' allies.

    Related by blood to Zeus, there were also released from captivity by their nephew, and the loyalty thereafter displayed can be seen when Briareos come to defend Zeus' throne when insurrection seemed possible.


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)