We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

In Greek Mythology, Who Was Geryon?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

In Greek mythology, Geryon was a giant who lived on the island of Erytheia. According to legend, he kept a herd of cattle which were distinctive for their red color, and guarded by a herdsman and a two-headed dog named Orthrus. Geryon appeared in several Greek myths and legends, perhaps most famously in the labors of Hercules, when Hercules had to steal his cattle. Unfortunately for Geryon, Hercules had to kill the giant in battle before he could take the coveted livestock away.

Like many monsters in Greek mythology, Geryon's looks are a topic for debate. In some stories, he simply has three heads, while in others he actually has three bodies, giving him six arms to work with. It is generally agreed what he was the son of Chrysaor and Calirrhoe, and he was at least unusually large, if not a full blown giant. In most stories, he is depicted as a warrior, and his battle with Hercules is often described as being quite heroic.

Stories about Geryon usually place him in a mythical land near the Hesperides, a group of nymphs who guard a paradisaical garden. This land is so far West that it is at the end of the world, and is associated with various mythological figures, events, and objects. Visitors to the region must generally use supernatural methods to reach it, although some Greeks believed that Geryon's home correlated with an actual place.

In stories about the labors of Hercules, Hercules is dispatched to Geryon's island in an attempt to steal the cattle. In order to do, Hercules is forced to battle the cattle herdsman and the watchdog before he can finally confront Geryon himself. Ultimately, the giant is felled by a poisonous arrow which Hercules had dipped in the blood of the Lernaean Hydra on an earlier adventure.

Once Hercules steals Geryon's cattle, however, his troubles are far from over. As he drives them back to their destination, members of the herd are stolen, and Hera puts obstacles like swollen rivers and packs of flies in the way. Hercules must overcome these obstacles to deliver the cattle to Eurystheus, who ultimately decides to sacrifice them to Hera.

This 10th labor of Hercules showcased many traits which made Hercules a classical Greek hero. He was able to travel to a region which could not be reached by ordinary mortals with the assistance of the Gods, and once he was there, he managed to defeat a fearsome monster. Hercules also refused to buckle to stress, successfully bringing the cattle of Geryon home despite some major obstacles.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon301223 — On Nov 02, 2012

Was Geryon evil or not? Why?

By jholcomb — On May 19, 2011

@rugbygirl--No, there were actually two different magical herds! Geryon was just an unfortunate monster who had some pretty cattle that someone else wanted. Herakles (to use his Greek name) seems to have gotten them all. Also, Geryon apparently kept his cattle at the edge of the world, while Odysseus and his men found the sun cattle on Thrinacia somewhere in the Mediterranean--maybe Malta.

By rugbygirl — On May 17, 2011

Are the oxen of Geryon the same as the cattle of the Sun that Odysseus got in trouble for eating? I think baby Hermes once stole them, too.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.