It is very rare for a god to also be a monster, but that’s exactly what Typhon was. He was the most feared monster in all Greek mythology and no other mythical creature, god or monster was as powerful, dangerous, or deadly.
He is known by many names – Typhon, Typhaon, Typheous, Typhos and Typho – but whatever name you use to describe him he was the most horrifying and fearsome beast of all.
There are many descriptions of Typhon, but the following is an overview of his appearance:
He was by far the largest of all mythological creatures. Typhon was a giant who was as tall as the stars. His hands stretched east and west and instead of a human head, he had a hundred dragon heads that erupted from his neck and shoulders.
His bottom half were gigantic viper coils that when stretched out fully could reach the top of his head and made a constant hissing sound.
His entire body was covered in wings and his eyes flashed with fire. Typhon was so powerful that he struck fear even into the Olympian gods.
As well as being a monster, Typhon was a god. He was the last son of Gaia (the Earth) and Tartarus (a violent, bottomless abyss). Both Gaia and Tartarus were deities and considered to be all-powerful gods.
Another version of Typhon’s birth is that he was a child of the goddess Hera, but it is more commonly believed that Hera asked Gaia and Tartarus to produce a god more powerful than Zeus.
Battle with Zeus
Typhon had a number of battles with Zeus in Greek mythology and in one story Typhon began to destroy cities and throwing mountains in a fit of rage. Many of the Olympian gods changed to animal form and hid from Typhon. Only Zeus, Dionysus, and Athena remained.
Athena accused Zeus of being a coward and this led him to attack Typhon before the giant could take over Mount Olympus – the home of the Olympian gods.
Zeus struck Typhon with 100 lightning bolts, trapping the monster. Once he was conquered, Zeus flung Typhon into the pits of Tartarus (where many monsters and foes of the gods were sent). One he was in Tartarus, Zeus put Mount Etna on top of it to stop Typhon from escaping.
Since Typhon is a such a fear-inducing, fire-breathing monster, he is constantly trying to get free and escape the pits of Tartarus beneath Mount Etna. It is believed that volcano eruptions and earthquakes happen every time he tries to move and escape.
Children of Typhon
Typhon is the father to some of the most terrifying monsters in all of Greek mythology, and he had many children with his wife Echidna – a monster who was half woman and half snake.
Together, they raised some of the most well known monsters and mythical creatures in all mythology.
- Orthrus. A fearsome two-headed hound that lived with giants
- Sphinx. A half human, half lion who would slay anybody who did not answer her riddles. When Oedipus was able to answer a riddle correctly, she jumped into the ocean in a fit of rage and drowned.
- Nemean Lion. A gigantic lion with impenetrable skin that eventually became the star constellation Leo.
- Cerberus. This well-known monster was a three-headed dog that guarded the entrance to Hades.
- Ladon. A serpentine dragon (drakon) that guarded the golden apples in the Garden of the Hesperides.
- Lernaean Hydra. An ancient serpent-like water monster with reptilian traits and many heads that multiplied if they were cut off.
- Caucasian Eagle. An eagle that every day ate the liver of Prometheus.
- Chimera. A monstrous fire-breathing hybrid creature with the body of a lion, the head of a goat, and a tail with a snake’s head.