Giants are huge mythical beings, usually humanlike in form (Britannica). The word giant derives from the Gigantes of Greek mythology. The Gigiantes were monstrous, savage creatures with men’s bodies and having serpentine legs.

Modern perception of giants has evolved: they are portrayed as either dimwitted and violent ogres or intelligent and friendly giants.


Giants in Literature


Giants are ubiquitous in folklore and myths. They are depicted as having an enlarged, monstrous  human body that often strike terror to ordinary humans. They are often portrayed as monsters and antagonists, but there are also some friendly giants intermingling with humans.

In Greek mythology, the Gigiantes were sons of Ge (Earth) and Uranus (Heaven). There was struggle between the Giants and the Olympians. Through the help of Heracles, the archer, the Giants were slain and the gods won. They were believed to be buried under mountains, and their presence is indicated by volcanic fires and earthquakes.

In Norse mythology, giants were primeval beings that existed before the Norse gods and were defeated by them.

Giants in most European tales are cruel and stupid, cannibalistic, and often one-eyed. They were mostly feared and hated. They are often killed by a hero’s wit than by his strength. There are kind giants though. An example is Rübezahl, who lived in the Bohemian forest.


Giants in Archaeology and Paleontology


All throughout the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and in the early modern period, academic consideration of giants were made.

According to Claudine Cohen, author of The Fate of the Mammoth, the study of giants appeared in several times in human history:

  • As per Herodotus, the remains of Orestes were found in Tegea. It was discovered that the body measured 7 cubits long. Thus, Orestes would have been a giant.
  • Pliny, a Roman naturalist and author of Natural History, wrote that that after an earthquake, a mountain in Crete was opened and a body, sixty-nine feet in height, was found. It was believed to be giant’s skeleton.
  • In Saint Augustine’s City of God, he writes about a fossilized molar of an ancient Elephantidae.

Other studies conducted include Boccaccio devoting a section in his Genealogies of the Pagan Gods archeological discoveries made in Sicily that might be evidence of the authenticity of Polyphemus, the most famous of the Cyclops (one-eyed giants).

In 1613, massive bones found in France were initially assigned to Teutobochus, the legendary giant king of the Teutons. But the examinations of by various physicians produced differing conclusions

A more recent investigation on giants were done by Americans Cotton Mather and Edward Taylor after the discovery of the Claverack Giant in colonial New York.


Giants in the Bible 


The book of Genesis tells about the Nephilims, the word being loosely translated as giants in some translations of the Hebrew Bible.

The book of Numbers includes the report made by the spies sent by Moses into Canaan: “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are…. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

The Bible also tells of Gog and Magog and of the famous battle between David and the Philistine Goliath.

Josephus, a Greek historian, described the Amorites as giants in his twenty-volume historiographical work Antiquities of the Jews.

In the book of Enoch, chapter 7 verse 2, giants were described as the offspring of Watchers (biblical angels) and women.


People’s fascination for giants will continue as long as they remain a mystery and the question “Are they real?” is still unanswered.


For more of giants, watch the following:

  • The UnXplained: Giant Skeletons Found in Wild West Cave (Season 4)

  • Stunning Proof of Extinct Giants: Ancient Aliens