Two Norse giants with a captive goddess, from Arthur Rackham's illustrated version of the Nibelunglied, c. 1910.

Giants (from Latin and Ancient Greek: gigas, cognate giga-) are beings of human appearance, but of prodigious size and strength, common in the mythology and legends of many different cultures. The word giant, first attested in 1297, was derived from the Gigantes (Γίγαντες) of Greek mythology.

In various Asian and European mythologies, gigantic peoples are featured as primeval creatures associated with chaos and the wild nature, and they are frequently in conflict with the gods, be they Olympian, Celtic, Hindu or Norse.

Fairy tales such as "Jack the Giant Killer" and "Jack and the Beanstalk" have formed the modern perception of giants as stupid and violent monsters, sometimes said to eat humans and/or livestock. In some more recent portrayals, like those of Jonathan Swift and Roald Dahl, some giants are both intelligent and friendly.

The notion of giants may originate from folk memory of early humans' contact with Neanderthals. It could have been compounded by the discovery of incomplete skeletons of dinosaurs, woolly mammoths, and other large extinct animals, which were misinterpreted as exceedingly large human bones.

Giant in The Case of the Toxic Spell DumpEdit

Romania was noted for its giants which could dwarf even a ten-foot Pole.

Giant in "The Old Grind"Edit

Giants (with gyger referring exclusively to the female of the species) had a thriving community in the Orkney Islands in the Middle Ages. Menia, who worked as a salt farmer in 910, and her daughter Fenia, were a prime example of these. Orkney giants were not as large or fearsome as the Jotun frost giants of Asgard.

See alsoEdit

  • Ogre, a large folkloric monster which can be indistinguishable from giants in some stories.
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