TNO Watch: Typhon

Helios Says:

Oh man, I have been WAITING to do this one! I love all the TNO’s and most of the asteroids/minor planets (meh on the Centaurs, Artemis loves those guys), but Typhon fascinates me to no end.

The Astronomy: 42355 Typhon is a scattered disc object that was discovered on February 5, 2002, by the NEAT program. It measures 162±7 km in diameter, and is named after Typhon, a monster in Greek mythology. A large moon was identified in 2006. It is named Echidna—formal designation (42355) Typhon I Echidna, after Echidna, the monstrous mate of Typhon. It orbits Typhon at ~1300 km, completing one orbit in about 11 days. Its diameter is estimated to be 89±6 km. Typhon is the first known binary centaur, using an extended definition of a centaur as an object on a non-resonant (unstable) orbit with the perihelion inside the orbit of Neptune.
The Myth: Typhon, also Typhoeus, Typhaon or Typhos, was a monstrous giant and the most deadly being of Greek mythology. Typhon and his mate Echidna were the progenitors of many famous monsters. According to Hesiod’s Theogony, Typhon was the son of Gaia and Tartarus: “when Zeus had driven the Titans from heaven, huge Earth bore her youngest child Typhoeus of the love of Tartarus, by the aid of golden Aphrodite (H: Reminding y’all ONCE AGAIN that Aphrodite is NOT a goddess, she is her own primal force that doesn’t give two shits about the Olympians, Titans, or whomever)”. The mythographer Apollodorus adds that Gaia bore Typhon in anger at the gods for their destruction of her offspring the Giants (H: …It was her anger at the destruction of the Titans which led to her creation of the Gigantes, and before that it was the imprisonment of the Hekatonkheires which inspired the betrayal and castration of Uranus. Gaea, you’re kind of predictable). Numerous other sources mention Typhon as being the offspring of Gaia, or simply “earth-born”, with no mention of Tartarus. However, according to the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, Typhon was the child of Hera alone. Hera, angry at Zeus for having given birth to Athena by himself, prayed to Gaia to give her a son as strong as Zeus, then slapped the ground and became pregnant (H: The mental image of this story alone makes it my personal favorite, as it is just SO Hera). Hera gave the infant Typhon to the serpent Python to raise, and Typhon grew up to become a great bane to mortals. The b scholia to Iliad 2.783, preserving a possible Orphic tradition, has Typhon born in Cilicia, as the offspring of Cronus. Gaia, angry at the destruction of the Giants, slanders Zeus to Hera. So Hera goes to Zeus’ father Cronus (whom Zeus had overthrown) and Cronus gives Hera two eggs smeared with his own semen, telling her to bury them, and that from them would be born one who would overthrow Zeus. Hera, angry at Zeus, buries the eggs in Cilicia “under Arimon”, but when Typhon is born, Hera, now reconciled with Zeus, informs him. According to Hesiod, Typhon was “terrible, outrageous and lawless“, and on his shoulders were one hundred snake heads, that emitted fire and every kind of noise: “Strength was with his hands in all that he did and the feet of the strong god were untiring. From his shoulders grew a hundred heads of a  snake, a fearful dragon, with dark, flickering tongues, and from under the brows of his eyes in his marvellous heads flashed fire, and fire burned from his heads as he glared. And there were voices in all his dreadful heads which uttered every kind of sound unspeakable; for at one time they made sounds such that the gods understood, but at another, the noise of a bull bellowing aloud in proud ungovernable fury; and at another, the sound of a lion, relentless of heart; and at another, sounds like whelps, wonderful to hear; and again, at another, he would hiss, so that the high mountains re-echoed.

The Homeric Hymn to Apollo describes Typhon as “fell” and “cruel”, and neither like gods nor men. Three of Pindar’s poems have Typhon as hundred-headed (as in Hesiod), while apparently a fourth gives him only fifty heads, but a hundred heads for Typhon became standard. A Chalcidian hydria, depicts Typhon as a winged humanoid from the waist up, with two snake tails below. Aeschylus calls Typhon “fire-breathing”. For Nicander, Typhon was a monster of enormous strength, and strange appearance, with many heads, hands, and wings, and with huge snake coils coming from his thighs. Apollodorus describes Typhon as a huge winged monster, whose head “brushed the stars”, human in form above the waist, with snake coils below, and fire flashing from his eyes: “In size and strength he surpassed all the offspring of Earth. As far as the thighs he was of human shape and of such prodigious bulk that he out-topped all the mountains, and his head often brushed the stars. One of his hands reached out to the west and the other to the east, and from them projected a hundred dragons’ heads. From the thighs downward he had huge coils of vipers, which when drawn out, reached to his very head and emitted a loud hissing. His body was all winged: unkempt hair streamed on the wind from his head and cheeks; and fire flashed from his eyes.”

The most elaborate description of Typhon is found in Nonnus’s Dionysiaca. Nonnus makes numerous references to Typhon’s sepentine nature, giving him a “tangled army of snakes”, snaky feet, and hair. According to Nonnus, Typhon was a “poison-spitting viper”, whose “every hair belched viper-poison”, and Typhon “spat out showers of poison from his throat; the mountain torrents were swollen, as the monster showered fountains from the viperish bristles of his high head”, and “the water-snakes of the monster’s viperish feet crawl into the caverns underground, spitting poison!”. Following Hesiod and others, Nonnus gives Typhon many heads (though untotaled), but in addition to snake heads, Nonnus also gives Typhon many other animal heads, including leopards, lions, bulls, boars, bears, cattle, wolves, and dogs, which combine to make ‘the cries of all wild beasts together’, and a “babel of screaming sounds”. Nonnus also gives Typhon “legions of arms innumerable”, and where Nicander had only said that Typhon had “many” hands, and Ovid had given Typhon a hundred hands, Nonnus gives Typhon two hundred. Typhon challenged Zeus for rule of the cosmos. The earliest mention of Typhon, and his only occurrence in Homer, is a passing reference in the Iliad to Zeus striking the ground around where Typhon lies defeated. Hesiod’s Theogony gives us the first account of their battle. According to Hesiod, without the quick action of Zeus, Typhon would have “come to reign over mortals and immortals”.

In the Theogony Zeus and Typhon meet in cataclysmic conflict: “[Zeus] thundered hard and mightily: and the earth around resounded terribly and the wide heaven above, and the sea and Ocean’s streams and the nether parts of the earth. Great Olympus reeled beneath the divine feet of the king as he arose and earth groaned thereat. And through the two of them heat took hold on the dark-blue sea, through the thunder and lightning, and through the fire from the monster, and the scorching winds and blazing thunderbolt. The whole earth seethed, and sky and sea: and the long waves raged along the beaches round and about at the rush of the deathless gods: and there arose an endless shaking. Hades trembled where he rules over the dead below, and the Titans under Tartarus who live with Cronos, because of the unending clamor and the fearful strife.” Zeus with his thunderbolt easily overcomes Typhon, who is thrown down to earth in a fiery crash: “So when Zeus had raised up his might and seized his arms, thunder and lightning and lurid thunderbolt, he leaped from Olympus and struck him, and burned all the marvellous heads of the monster about him. But when Zeus had conquered him and lashed him with strokes, Typhoeus was hurled down, a maimed wreck, so that the huge earth groaned. And flame shot forth from the thunderstricken lord in the dim rugged glens of the mount, when he was smitten. A great part of huge earth was scorched by the terrible vapor and melted as tin melts when heated by men’s art in channelled crucibles; or as iron, which is hardest of all things, is shortened by glowing fire in mountain glens and melts in the divine earth through the strength of Hephaestus. Even so, then, the earth melted in the glow of the blazing fire.”

Defeated, Typhon is cast into Tartarus by an angry Zeus. Epimenides seemingly knew a different version of the story, in which Typhon enters Zeus’ palace while Zeus is asleep, but Zeus awakes and kills Typhon with a thunderbolt. Pindar calls Typhon the “enemy of the gods”, apparently knew of a tradition which had the gods transform into animals and flee to Egypt, says that Typhon was defeated by Zeus’ thunderbolt, has Typhon being held prisoner by Zeus under Etna, and in Tartarus stretched out under ground between Mount Etna and Cumae. Like Pindar, Nicander has all the gods but Zeus and Athena, transform into animal forms and flee to Egypt: Apollo became a hawk (Horus), Hermes an ibis (Thoth), Ares a fish (Se..Set?) ,Artemis a cat (Bastet?) , Dionysus a goat(…), Heracles a fawn (Nope), Hephaestus an ox (Done), and Leto a mouse (WHY WAS LETO EVEN THERE). No early source gives any reason for the conflict, but Apollodorus’ account seemingly implies that Typhon had been produced by Gaia to avenge the destruction, by Zeus and the other gods, of the Giants, a previous generation of offspring of Gaia. According to Apollodorus “Zeus pelted Typhon at a distance with thunderbolts, and at close quarters struck him down with an adamantine sickle (Cronus’ weapon)” Wounded, Typhon fled to the Syrian Mount Kasios, where Zeus “grappled” with him. But Typhon, twining his snaky coils around Zeus, was able to wrest away the sickle and cut the sinews from Zeus’ hands and feet. Typhon carried the disabled Zeus across the sea to the Corycian cave in Cilicia where he set the she-serpent Delphyne to guard over Zeus and his severed sinews, which Typhon had hidden in a bear skin. But Hermes and Aegipan (possibly another name for Pan) stole the sinews and gave them back to Zeus. His strength restored, Zeus chased Typhon to mount Nysa, where the Moirai tricked Typhon into eating “ephemeral fruits” which weakened him. Typhon then fled to Thrace, where he threw mountains at Zeus, which were turned back on him by Zeus’ thunderbolts, and the mountain where Typhon stood, being drenched with Typhon’s blood, became known as Mount Haemus (Bloody Mountain). Typhon then fled to Sicily, where Zeus threw Mount Etna on top of Typhon burying him, and so finally defeated him. Oppian says that Pan helped Zeus in the battle by tricking Typhon to come out from his lair, and into the open, by the “promise of a banquet of fish”, thus enabling Zeus to defeat Typhon with his thunderbolts.

The Astrology: Where do we even begin with this one? He is a monster, plain and simple, conjured up to destroy us for the mistakes we have made. Where have we heard that one before, hmmm? Every day we see this in our own minds, especially lately. So we find that he works in a lot of the same ways that Ceto does, but Typhon doesn’t hide- He doesn’t need to. He is overt, he wants his presence to be known. Fear is his weapon. Many astrologers also equate Typhon to natural (or man-made) disasters, where damage is caused to the earth itself. Gaea’s last child is out of even her control. Typhon tends to show up strongly around the time that empires crumble. However it is never all bad news- Even amidst the destruction people will come together to rebuild and ensure the survival- Look at post 9/11 (pre-iraq war II), the Fukushima disaster, Gulf Oil Spill,  the various Tsunamis and hurricanes that have plagued us as our climate changes . People come together after disaster. Sure, some will capitalize on the opportunity but when faced with catastrophe, we try to rebuild. Typhon also has strong connections to renewable energy, and the oil crisis. Typhon is definitely a TNO for the modern age, and will only grow in importance.

To find out where he shows up in your chart, go to astro.com, put in your birth details and in the extended options, all the way at the bottom, there will be a menu of additional objects. Under that is a blank space where you can enter the number 42355, for Typhon. Once you have it entered, generate the chart! Where does Typhon affect your life? Let us know in the comments below!

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One Comment

  • Juls says:

    I have it conjuct ASC Gemini by degree. Along with Pan retro and Dionysus rx., opposed mercury on DC. Walking disaster? For sure. And also make fun of it.

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