AskDefine | Define Antaeus

Extensive Definition

Antaeus in Greek and Berber mythology was a giant of Libya, the son of Poseidon and Gaia, and his wife was Tinjis. He was extremely strong as long as he remained in contact with the ground (his mother earth), but once lifted into the air he became as weak as water. He would challenge all passers-by to wrestling matches, kill them, and collect their skulls, so that he might one day build out of them a temple to his father Poseidon. Heracles, finding that he could not beat Antaeus by throwing him to the ground, as he would regain his strength and be fortified, discovered the secret of his power (touching the ground) and held Antaeus aloft and crushed him in a bearhug (Apollodorus ii. 5; Hyginus, Fab. 31). The myth of Antaeus has been used as a symbol of the spiritual strength which accrues when one rests one's faith on the immediate fact of things. The struggle between Antaeus and Heracles is a favorite subject in ancient sculpture.
In Dante's The Divine Comedy, Antaeus is a giant who guards the ninth circle of Hell, and lowers Dante and Virgil down to the iced-over Cocytus.
One of the stories of the Tanglewood Tales features Antaeus and the Pygmies (Chapter: "The Pygmies").


  • Antaeus was mentioned in the film The Great Debaters as a metaphor for growing stronger when one loses.
  • There was a literary magazine, edited by Daniel Halpern, named Antaeus.
  • There are two poems by the Irish poet Seamus Heaney about this myth in his collection North:
... He may well throw me and renew my birth But let him not plan, lifting me off the earth, My elevation, my fall.
  • There are two comic book characters named after this myth, see Antaeus (comics)
  • Antaeus is the name of a men's cologne by Chanel
  • The Antaeus myth features heavily in the Pat Barker novel Regeneration as a metaphor for men psychologically disturbed in World War One
  • Elsewhere in popular culture, the British prog-rock band Pure Reason Revolution have referenced Antaeus in the lyrics for their song 'Trembling Willows': "Songs of love & inflamed lips peristyle/Sold Antaeus darts!"
  • The Antaeus Company in Los Angeles is a professional classical theater ensemble founded in 1991.
  • There is a new paraglider model, an high-end intermediate/performance glider name Antea by the Czech paragliding brand SKY. They tend to name gliders after characters of Greek mythology, like Brontes, one of the cyclopses
  • Antaeus was used by ADM Hyman G. Rickover as a metaphor for engineers who sometimes become isolated from the world around them. "... the Devil is in the details, but so is salvation."



Antaeus in Arabic: عنتي
Antaeus in Bulgarian: Антей
Antaeus in Czech: Antaios
Antaeus in German: Antaios
Antaeus in Estonian: Antaios
Antaeus in Modern Greek (1453-): Ανταίος
Antaeus in Spanish: Anteo
Antaeus in Persian: آنتایوس
Antaeus in French: Antée
Antaeus in Italian: Anteo
Antaeus in Lithuanian: Antėjas
Antaeus in Hungarian: Antaiosz
Antaeus in Dutch: Antaios
Antaeus in Polish: Anteusz
Antaeus in Portuguese: Anteu
Antaeus in Russian: Антей
Antaeus in Finnish: Antaios
Antaeus in Swedish: Antaios
Antaeus in Chinese: 安泰俄斯
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