A Primer on Giants

This is part one of several.

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Giants of all shapes and a surprising variety of sizes stomp all across the myths and folklore of the world. It seems that wherever people have made up stories, they have made up stories about giants.

The boring part first: it does not tax the human imagination to anthropomorphize natural forces into people-shaped gods larger than ourselves. It is by far more likely that each and every giant myth arose from our own imagination along these lines, compared to actual giants as actual fact. Giants are a grittier, more grounded re-imagining of our own gods, or more commonly, the downgrading of the gods of those we have just conquered.

Sure, on occasion, one tribe would encounter a substantially taller tribe, and in retelling that encounter the new strange tribe may grow taller with each telling. The Caucasian giants of prehistoric America may very well be tales of the Inuit’s encounter with Vikings, passed and expanded upon all down the trade routes as far as Peru.

It is supposed, though not established, that the effective maximum height for a human frame is about fifteen feet. As height doubles, mass squares. So if we doubled Shaquille O’Neal (pro basketball player – using his official playing stats of 7’1” and 325 lbs) we get 14’2” and over 105625 lbs. That approaches the limit for proportionally scaled calcium bones to sustain the load. However, you will almost certainly run of of blood circulation before that point.

The tallest known humans hover around 8 feet tall, all suffering from a tumor in their pituitary gland causing the gland to release an excess of growth hormone. Most have circulatory problems. The high end for fully functional seems to be about 7’6” and 350 or so pounds. There are many famous athletes and performers (besides O’Neal) who functioned at or near this size, and perhaps many more that we do not know about. These conditions, though are extremely rare, and it’s hard to plausibly imagine an entire people this size.

Actual facts, though, are not nearly as compelling as completely making shit up. So let’s do that instead.

Giant myths grow from two varieties: those that grew upon the Earth, usually before the dawn of humanity, and those who fell from the sky, typically, but not always, to interbreed with humanity.


Norse Giants

The Fomorians

The Muans