Giants are humanoid creatures of prodigious size and strength, a type of legendary monster that appear in the tales of many different races and cultures. They are often stupid or violent and are frequently said to eat humans, especially children; others, like Oscar Wilde's giants, are intelligent and friendly.
The Cyclopes of Homer's Odyssey were giants, as was Goliath who strove with King David in the Bible. The Bible also records a race of giants whose name is now usually translated "Nephilim;" these are the giants meant when the book Genesis observes that "There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men and they bore children to them, the same became mighty men who were of old, men of renown." (Gen. 6:4 KJV)
Tales of combat with giants were a common feature in the folklore of Wales and Ireland. From here, giants got into Breton and Arthurianian romances, and from this source they spread into the heroic tales of Torquato Tasso, Ludovico Ariosto, and their follower Edmund Spenser. The giant Despair appears in John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. Norse and Anglo-Saxon mythology are also rich in tales of giants, which seem there to be a separate race akin to the gods, and strove often with Thor. Ogres and trolls are giant-like humanoid creatures that occur in various sorts of European folklore.
Giants figure in a great many fairy tales and folklore stories, such as Jack and the beanstalk.
Examples of giants
- The Gigantes and Titans in Greek mythology.
- Goliath in the biblical story of David.
- St Christopher, from Roman Catholicism
- Jotuns in Norse mythology.
- Gogmagog, from the legendary lore of Britain
See also Giantess.