Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (Act 5, Scene 1)
LAERTES: O, treble woe
Fall ten times treble on that cursed head,
Whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense
Deprived thee of! Hold off the earth awhile,
Till I have caught her once more in mine arms:
[Leaps into Ophelia’s grave]
Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead,
Till of this flat a mountain you have made,
To o’ertop old Pelion, or the skyish head
Of blue Olympus.
HAMLET: ‘Swounds, show me what thou’lt do:
Woo’t weep? woo’t fight? woo’t fast? woo’t tear thyself?
Woo’t drink up eisel? eat a crocodile?
I’ll do’t. Dost thou come here to whine?
To outface me with leaping in her grave?
Be buried quick with her, and so will I:
And, if thou prate of mountains, let them throw
Millions of acres on us, till our ground,
Singeing his pate against the burning zone,
Make Ossa like a wart!
These references in the last act of Hamlet to the gigantomachia of the Aloadai1 are reinforced by the earlier exchange of Laertes with Claudius:
CLAUDIUS: What is the cause, Laertes,
That thy rebellion looks so giant-like?
(Act 4, Scene 5)
Shakespeare’s Hamlet, like the gigantomachia, concerns the rights of rulership, of fatherhood and of inheritance, as these are fought over between generations. In the end, Hamlet and Laertes kill each other with foils in a dénouement recalling the end of the rebellion of the twin Aloadai giants against the gods: “Artemis finished off the Aloadai in Naxos by means of a trick: in the likeness of a deer she darted between them, and in their desire to hit the animal they speared each other.” (Apollodorus, Library 1.53)
Just before their final duel Hamlet says to Laertes:
Let my disclaiming from a purposed evil
Free me so far in your most generous thoughts,
That I have shot mine arrow o’er the house,
And hurt my brother.
(Act 5, Scene 1)
Later in the same scene:
I’ll be your foil, Laertes: in mine ignorance….
- Apollodorus describes the war of the Aloadai on the gods as follows: “Aloeus married Triops’ daughter Iphimedeia, who, however, was in love with Poseidon. She would go down to the sea, gather the waves in her hands, and pour the water on her vagina. Poseidon mated with her and fathered two sons, Otos and Ephialtes, who were known as Aloadai. Each year these lads grew two feet in width and six feet in length. When they were nine years old and measured eighteen feet across by fifty four feet tall, they decided to fight the gods. So they set Mount Ossa on top of Mount Olympos, and then placed Mount Pelion on top of Ossa, threatening by means of these mountains to climb up to the sky; and they also said that they would dam up the sea with mountains and make it dry, and make the dry land a sea. Ephialtes paid amorous attention to Hera, as did Otos to Artemis. And they also bound up Ares. But Hermes secretly snatched Ares away, and Artemis finished off the Aloadai in Naxos by means of a trick: in the likeness of a deer she darted between them, and in their desire to hit the animal they speared each other.” (Apollodorus, Library 1.53) ↩