In Greek mythology, the giant Alcyoneus or Alkyoneus, was the son of Gaia (Earth) and Uranus (Sky). According to the mythographer Apollodorus, Alcyoneus' confrontation with Heracles was part of the cosmic battle of the Giants with the Olympian gods. In Apollodorus' account Alcyoneus and Porphyrion were the greatest of the Giants, and Alcyoneus was immortal as long as he was in his native land. When Heracles shot Alcyoneus with an arrow, Alcyoneus fell to the ground but then began to recover, so on the advice of Athena, Heracles dragged Alcyoneus out of his homeland where Alcyoneus then died.

Known as Hercules in Roman mythology, Heracles was the son of god Zeus, and Alcmene. Heracles was the greatest of heroes, but unlike other Greek heroes, no tomb was identified as his. Heracles was both hero and god, as Pindar says ‘heros theos’; at the same festival sacrifice was made to him, first as a hero, and then as a god. Thus he represents the closest Greek approach to a ‘demi-god’.

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