Categories College Essays

Human Giants in Lore, Myth, and Life

Legends of old abound with human giants in lore, myth, and life. Throughout history there have been stories of them on earth. It is also known there have been actual medical cases of giants in real life. Gigantism in humans is caused by a mutated gene passed on through generations or by a tumor on the pituitary gland. These are rare cases that happened to individuals, but has there ever been a race of giants?

In the folklore and mythology of every culture there have been stories and legends of giants. One may wonder if the myths were based on facts, or if the facts actually became distorted into mythological legends over time. In the society in which it is told, a myth is usually regarded as a true account of the remote past. So, does that mean the legend of giants, like Fafner and Fasolt who seized Freyja in the Norse saga ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’ (The Ring of the Nibelung), is a true account from ancient Norway? Did giants like Fafner and Fasolt actually exist at one time in the far distant past?

Enceladus of the Gigantes was a son of Gaia the Mother goddess in Greek mythology. The Gigantes were enormous in size — like other Gigantes, Enceladus had the lower limbs of a serpent and dragon scales for feet. When a battle ensued between the Olympian gods and the Gigantes, Athena, goddess of just-warfare among other titles, injured Enceladus with her spear, which disabled him. Enceladus was then buried under Mount Etna on the island of Sicily. Fire from the volcano is said to be Enceladus’ breath and tremors from the volcano are when he rolls over to comfort his side where he was wounded. To this day, people say that an earthquake is caused by Enceladus.

In Norse mythology, Ymir was the first giant and ancestor of all jotnar (giants). Ymir was formed during the primeval chaos known as Ginnungagap. In the Gylfaginning written by Snorri Sturluson in the Prose Edda, Ymir’s creation was explained as follows:

Fafner and Fasolt also are of Norse mythology. Odin, the father god of all gods, had the two brothers build Valhalla. For doing such a good job in building the beautiful castle, Odin promises Fafner and Fasolt they can take Freyja, the goddess of love, as payment. The giants take her, then are offered a hoard of treasure that was stolen from Alberich the dwarf. When the brothers divide the treasure between them, they argue over Andvaranaut, a magic ring. In greed and anger, Fafner kills Fasolt and takes the entire treasure for himself to a cave. Once in the cave, he transforms into a venomous dragon and for many years guards his treasure.

In 1890, Anthropologist Georges Vacher de Lapouge made a discovery of fossilized human bones found in a Bronze Age grave under a mound of earth and stone in the castelnau-le-Lez cemetery in France. The bones, humerus, tibia and femoral, indicated the person would have been over 27 feet (3 meters) tall.The bones of the Giant of Castelnau were analyzed and studied by several professors at the University of Montpelier who all confirmed they are bones from a human.

In 1894 a discover of a prehistoric cemetery at Montpelier, France yielded three human skulls (28, 31, and 32 inches in circumference), along with other bones of gigantic proportions. It was determined that these bones belonged to a race of giants of 10 to 15 feet tall.

On the grounds of the old Glastonbury Abbey Somerset, England, there is a grave with a plaque that reads it is the tomb of King Arthur. According to one account, written by the historian Gerald of Wales, Queen Guinevere also is in the same grave. When monks in the year 1191 dug up the grave, they found the remains of a man who would have been about seven feet tall in life. A petite woman was lying next to him. She had long golden hair that disintegrated when it was touched.

It was an unusual grave the monks found, 16 feet underground. There they found a stone slab on top of a hollowed out log. Under the slab was a lead cross that had an inscription on it, identifying the remains as Arthur and Guinevere. In the year 1278, the remains in the grave were transferred to a shrine in the new monastic church, where it can be seen today. Was King Arthur a giant, or just an unusually big man? Were there more men if his stature in the Arthurian legends?

In the Old Testament, Genesis 6-4, it says that giants were on the earth when the “sons of God in unto the daughters of men …”

Deuteronomy 3-11 in referring to after the great flood tells how “only Og king of Ba’shan remained of the remnant of giants”.

In the Tanakh, the canon of the Hebrew Bible, a race of giants called the Anakim lived south of the land of Canaanite, near Hebron (Gen. 23:2; Josh. 15:13). In Numbers 13:33, ancestors of the Anakim were the Nephilim from the sons of God and daughters of man, mentioned in Genesis 6:1-2.

In Hinduism there is a race of giants called the Daityas. They are a clan of the Asura, a race of deities who are always battling the devas for power. The devas are benevolent supernatural beings while the Daityas are aggressive and power-seeking. The word, asura, in ancient hymns means powerful or mighty.

In the biblical story of David and Goliath, we read that Goliath was a giant of a man that no one could defeat, yet young David killed him. Now, there is some discrepancy between texts in this story . Josephus, a Romano-Jewish scholar and historian of the 1st century, wrote in the text of Samuel in the Dead Sea Scrolls that Goliath was four cubits and a span in height (6 feet, 9 inches). The 4th century Septuagint gives Goliath the same height. However, in later manuscripts it is written that Goliath was six cubits and a span (9 feet, 9 inches). Did some study for the later manuscripts show that there was an error in earlier calculation? Or, did Goliath take on new height as the story grew and was added to?

In the unedited full-text of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia there is a large section devoted to giants and presented as biblical data. Giants are mentioned as inhabitants of the earth before the Great Flood. They are believed to have belonged to prehistoric Palestinian tribes.

Between archaeologists, scholars, historians and mathematicians there’s still no definitive proof as to how gigantic structures on Earth from ancient times were constructed and transported, such as the Moai on Easter Island, the pyramids, or why the Nazca Lines, ancient geoglyphs, in Peru are so gigantic. Who made them? Erich von Daniken, author of ‘Chariots of the Gods’, 1968, maintains that these gigantic structures and images were created by extraterrestrial visitors of a higher technological order of intelligence or taught humans the knowledge of how to make them. Still there is the issue of transporting enormous blocks of rock. Did the aliens create devices that could move tons of rock, were the aliens giants, or were the humans who made these structures giants?

There is one story which was regarded as ancient myth until archaeological evidence validated the legend. From an archaeological point of view, there is evidence of a race of red-haired giants that the Paiute Indian tribe in northern Nevada had passed down stories of from generation to generation. According to the Paiute legend, their ancestors battled this race of giants who were a hostile and warlike tribe. “Si-Te-Cah” was the name that the Paiutes called the red-haired giants. Si-Te-Cah in Paiute language means “tule eaters”, for they ate the fibrous water plant, tule. Supposedly, the giants were also cannibals.

Other tribes, like the Mayan and Aztecs, recorded encounters with giants on journeys further north. On many continents burial sites and remains of giants have been discovered, some as tall as 12 to 15 feet.

And we still have the beloved tales and legends that are told to each new generation. One of these legends is of Finn MacCool of Ireland and Benandonner of Scotland, both giants. This is the legend of the Giants Causeway, an actual historical site between Ireland and Scotland and how it was built. The legend says that Finn, while roaming around the north coast, would look across the narrow stretch of sea to Scotland to see if Benandonner was around. He wanted to ask Benandonner to come to Ireland to have a battle between them to find out who was the strongest.

Since there were no boats large enough to hold either giant, Finn built a causeway with stones so Benandonner could walk across. However, when Benandonner saw the causeway and started across, Finn realized his rival was much larger and more fearsome than himself. Finn ran home and told his wife how big Benandonner was. Oonagh, his wife, made Finn put on some baby clothes and had him crawl into a cradle and pretend he was asleep.

When Benandonner arrived at the cottage and demanded where Finn was, Oonagh said Finn was out for the day and invited Benandonner in for tea. She then asked him to be quiet so as not to wake Finn’s child. When Benandonner saw the size of the “baby” he he had no desire to confront the father. Benandonner hurried back to Scotland quickly.

The Giants Causeway, in County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, contains stones that are hexagonal in shape and they are huge. The tallest ones are 39 feet high and quite thick. The structure looks like it was constructed intentionally with a “ball and socket” joints method. Experts on this kind of phenomena say that the 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, were created when there was an ancient volcanic eruption. It is a very complex explanation on how lava can form these types of precisely placed structures. Or, maybe Finn was a very intelligent carpenter.

The following video presents archaeological evidence and theories about ancient beliefs that are astounding. It is very interesting.