Promethean – “Le Supplice des Aloades”

Otus and Ephialtes were two mythical giants, and among the original mortals to challenge the supremacy of the gods. Due to the mythical remembrance of their defiance, those who subsequently challenged or questioned the power of the gods (i.e. the earliest porto-atheists) were conceived of by the ancient Greeks as latter-day incarnations of these gigantic and blasphemous brothers.

They were the sons of the god Poseidon and a mortal woman Iphimedia, though they are referred to collectively as the ‘Aloadae’ in reference to their mother’s mortal husband Aloeus, who raised them as his own. Their motivation to transcend mortal bounds and ascend to Mt. Olympus was their oversized lust combined with their oversized sense of their own power. Trusting in this, they each schemed to carry of two Olympian goddesses by force, Otus taking Artemis the huntress of the moon, Ephialtes taking Hera queen of the gods. They tore two other mountains, Ossa and Pelion, from their roots and stacked them on top of each other to form a “stairway to heaven,” so to speak. But either Apollo’s arrows or Zeus’ lightning stopped them in their tracks, for good.

As usual in Greek mythology, there are varying accounts of both their deeds and fate. In another version, they managed to capture the war-god Ares and imprison him in a jar. His sister Artemis agreed to offer herself to them to let him go, and this caused the brothers to quarrel with one another to the point that they mutually killed each other (a motif that will recur in the duel of Eteocles and Polynices at Thebes). Descending to the Underworld, the brothers suffer eternal punishment bound to a column by chains of live snakes, as a Stygian owl forever refuses them peace with a continuous hooting. When Dante descended into the depths of Hell in his “Inferno,” he remarked how these giants resembled towers in a city as he approached from a distance.

The French band Promethean play an epic blend of progressive death metal with symphonic elements. Their 2017 debut EP “Aloades” features an artistic rendering of the punishment of the Aloadae, and this song “Le Supplice des Aloades” (“The Punishment of the Aloadae”) retells the version of the myth in which they perish by mutual fratricide. The song begins with the brothers swearing “by the Styx” that they will accomplish their mission, and it ends with their journey in death across that river’s waters to their place of eternal damnation. Promethean explore the lessons of this myth, how the force of human greed and lust transcends the even bounds of piety to gods and family, how even with immense physical power, the gods find a way to use that power against you. Hubris does not go unpunished.

“By the Styx this pact is sealed 
Otus and Ephialtes 
Sons of Poseidon 
Swore to seduce the goddesses

I shall take Hera, 
Goddess of fertility 
For I want her to bear my progeny

I shall take Artemis 
As my legitimate queen, 
Because such is the power of my desire

Arrogant and proud 
The giants left 
Bound by their brotherly love

None was harmful to them 
Except the fratricidal arm

By the land and the sea 
They sought their promised 
Looking for the divine Artemis

By the land and the sea 
They finally found her 
And ran towards

The divine figure suddenly 
Disappeared in the woods 
Under the guise of a sublime white deer

The brothers, splitting their ways 
Threw their forceful spears 
But haste only made them found each other hearts

As life ran through their wounds 
Thanatos, son of Nyx 
Took their soul 
Across the stormy Styx 
For breaking their pact 
And coveted Zeus daughter 
Across the stormy Styx

Tied by snakes to a column 
For the eternity 
An owl hooting unrelentingly in their ears.

Disability to see their beloved 
Eternal punishment 
Endlessly mulling their deadly gesture”

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