About the Giant Antaeus in Mythology

Hercules and Antaeus, ca 1475, by Antonio Pollaiuolo (1431 or 1432-1498), bronze statue, 46 cm, Italy, 15th century
De Agostini / G. Nimatallah / Getty Images

Antaeus, son of Gaia and Poseidon, was a Libyan giant whose strength appeared invincible. He challenged all passers-by to a wrestling match that he invariably won. Upon winning, he slaughtered his adversaries. That is until he met Hercules.

Antaeus Challenges Hercules

Hercules had gone to the garden of the Hesperides for an apple. (The Hesperides, daughters of Night or the Titan Atlas, took care of the garden.) On Hercules' way back, the giant Antaeus challenged the hero to a wrestling match. No matter how many times Hercules threw Antaeus off and tossed him to the ground, it did no good. If anything, the giant appeared rejuvenated from the encounter.

The Strength of Antaeus From His Mother Gaia

Hercules eventually realized that Gaia, the Earth, Antaeus' mother, was the source of his strength, so Hercules held the giant aloft until all his power had drained away. After he killed Antaeus, Hercules proceeded safely back to his taskmaster, King Eurystheus.

Incidentally, the modern American hero and demigod Percy Jackson, in the eponymous series, written by Rick Riordan, also defeats Antaeus by suspending him above the earth.

Ancient Sources for Antaeus 

Some ancient writers who mention Antaeus are Pindar, Apollodorus, and Quintus Ancient Sources for Antaeus Smyrnus.

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Gill, N.S. "About the Giant Antaeus in Mythology." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/antaeus-112058. Gill, N.S. (2020, August 27). About the Giant Antaeus in Mythology. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/antaeus-112058 Gill, N.S. "About the Giant Antaeus in Mythology." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/antaeus-112058 (accessed November 28, 2022).