Why do so many ancient cultures around the world have records of giants?

Did giants really exist? Although most would probably scoff at the question, there appears to be a lot of compelling evidence that, yes, giants may have really existed. Not only do accounts of these giants show up in our ancient records and artifacts, but also physical evidence of giant remains have perhaps been found around the world including fossilized footprints and bones.

Giants were present in virtually every ancient culture’s mythologies. Let’s take a look at giants showing up in ancient stories around the world. You might say, but these are myths, and aren’t myths fictional stories created to explain natural phenomena? Maybe. When you look at how far and widespread the accounts of giants were all over the world, it makes you wonder: were all of these cultures all over the world recording fictional stories or were they recording actual history?

Common themes surrounding giants across cultures’ mythologies seem to be giants’ size, their aggressive demeanor, that they were in great conflict and battles with gods, and that they were born from gods mating with female humans. Many cultures attributed large megalithic and other structures to the giants. They often were said to have arrived in the area by boat. Also multiple records indicate that they were mostly wiped out by the great flood.

Greek mythology

The giants were known to be strong and aggressive and were known for their battle with the Olympian gods called the Gigantomachy. There are many detailed accounts of this battle. In Greek art, giants are often depicted with serpents in place of legs.

Gods and giants in battle. Giants depicted with scaly, serpent-like legs c. 1st century AD

Famous Greek giants include Enceladus, who was killed by Athena; Polybotes, who was crushed by an island by Poseidon; and Porphyrion, who attempted to violate Hera and then was killed by Zeus and Herakles.

Poseidon with his trident battling a giant c. 500-450 BCE

The Greek historian, Herodutus, wrote about the 10 foot long (7 cubits long) body of Orestes being uncovered by Spartans.

Norse mythology

In Norse mythology, the giants were often in conflict with the gods. The gods created the giants by many marriages. Norse mythology states that men were born from the flesh of a giant giant, Ymir. In the apocalypse in the battle of Ragnarok, according the Norse mythology, the giants are supposed to defeat the gods and bring about the end of the world as we know it.

Native American mythology

Several Native American tribes including the Navajo, the Comanches, the Choctow from present-day Tennessee, the Manta people of Peru, and the Paiutes of Nevada have passed down stories describing a warlike race of white giants who were eventually wiped out. Some tribes report they were destroyed by the gods who were disgusted with their sexual habits or because they became too proud and unjust, and some report their warring with people and being extinguished.

Hindu mythology

A race of giants known as the Daityas fought against the gods out of jealousy. Kumbhakarna and Hiranyaksha were famous Daityas.

Jain mythology

According to Jains, time can be divided into cosmological cycles of times in which lifespan and height of people changes, and giant people once walked the earth.

Celtic mythology

Some Celtic mythology states that the world was created by giants. In Ireland, the Tuatha De Danaan, “tribe of the gods,” a supernatural race, were supposedly giants who were said to have ruled over Ireland and constructed the large megalithic stones in the area.

“A poem in the Lebor Gabála Érenn says of their arrival:

It is God who suffered them, though He restrained them

they landed with horror, with lofty deed,
in their cloud of mighty combat of spectres,
upon a mountain of Conmaicne of Connacht.

Without distinction to descerning Ireland,
Without ships, a ruthless course
the truth was not known beneath the sky of stars,
whether they were of heaven or of earth.”

(“Tuatha de Danann,” n.d., p. 8)

Armenian mythology

Hayk was the most famous of Armenian giants, as he was known to found the Armenian state and contributed to the construction of the tower of Babel.

Giants in the Bible

The Bible mentions Nephilim, giant people, in Genesis, whose fathers were angels from heaven. The giants turned to cannibalism and aggression and were ordered to be wiped out by God. The giants were said to have died out in the great flood, but there were mentions of giants after the flood as well. Gog and Magog and the battle between David and Goliath were some specific giants.

YOUR THOUGHTS

What do you think about the commonalities among giants reported across ancient cultures all over the world? Were they recording fictional stories they created to explain natural phenomena or were they recording actual events? If, contrary to our belief for the last few hundred years, it turns out that giants did exist, what are the implications of that fact? Does it mean that we should be more considerate of other written records from ancient people which have been considered to be “myths”?

See also:

 

References

Tuatha De Danann. (n.d). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org

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