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Laestrygones

LAESTRYGONES, a mythical race of giants and cannibals. According to the Odyssey (x. 80) they dwelt in the farthest north, where the nights were so short that the shepherd who was driving out his flock met another driving it in. This feature of the tale contains some hint of the long nightless summer in the Arctic regions, which perhaps reached the Greeks through the merchants who fetched amber from the Baltic coasts. Odysseus in his wanderings arrived at the coast inhabited by the Laestrygones, and escaped with only one ship, the rest being sunk by the giants with masses of rock. Their chief city was Telepylus, founded by a former king Lamus, their ruler at that time being Antiphates. This is a purely fanciful name, but Lamus takes us into a religious world where we can trace the origin of the legend, and observe the god of an older religion becoming the subject of fairy tales (see LAMIA) in a later period.

The later Greeks placed the country of the Laestrygones in Sicily, to the south of Aetna, near Leontini; but Horace (Odes, iii. 16. 34) and other Latin authors speak of them as living in southern Latium, near Formiae, which was supposed to have been founded by Lamus.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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