The hundred hands Giants
Lending a hand to a friend or neighbor is an old expression meaning to help out. But what about lending a hundred hands? And having fifty heads to make sure they all do what their supposed to? Sounds a bit bizarre, yet the Greeks fully believed that such a being existed.
The HECATONCHIRES (Heck-a-tawn-care-ees) were three brothers, each of which had one hundred hands and fifty heads a piece. Briareus, Cottus and Gyges were all sons of Gaea and Ouranos, back when the two Parent Titans were experimenting with having their first kids. Gaea loved all of her children, but Ouranos, seeing how deformed, odd and multi-limbed his new sons were, decided to do away with them.
The Hecatonchires were immortal, so Ouranos couldn't just kill them (plus, Gaea would never permit it) but he COULD imprison them somewhere where he would never have to look upon his ugly sons. He forced Gaea to put them deep inside herself, locked away inside Tartarus, the deepest level of the Underworld. What a great and compassionate dad...
Its no wonder then that later on, Cronus, the first Titan to be born to Gaea and Ouranos, would off him and take over. In fact, Gaea came to Cronus and begged him to free both the Hecatonchires and the Cyclopes (Ouranos didn't like them any better) from Tartarus in return for helping him dethrone his own father.
Cronus did just that, and for awhile, all was well. He ruled the Titans, Ouranos was now gone, and the ugly brothers were free. Yet Cronus was just as much a jerk as his father had been, and he worried that his monstrous brothers would try to overthrow him now that he was in charge. So, going against his word, he put them right back into the Supermax prison that was Tartarus.
The whole thing played out again when Zeus, son of Cronus, made his move to destroy HIS father. The Hecatonchires and their Cyclops brothers were MORE than happy to jump into the fight on the side of Zeus and his brothers and sisters. When Zeus and the Olympians won, this time they were granted their freedom for good.
Zeus relied on them for their strength and assistance occasionally, and he did them a big favor, per request: he allowed them to guard the gates into Tartarus so that the Titans could never leave. Sweet revenge! You can't really blame them. Imagine being trapped inside a dark room with nothing but your three siblings for thousands of years by your parents, let out once with the promise that you'd NEVER go back in again, and then before you know it, back in you go? It's no wonder that the Hecatonchires were dying to guard the huge doors the Underworld's most horrific level!
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