Giant is the English word (coined 1297) commonly used for the monsters of human appearance but prodigious size and strength common in the mythology and legends of many different cultures. The word Giant was derived from one of the most famed examples: the gigantes (Greek: γίγαντες) of Greek mythology. In various Indo-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. Giants also often play similar roles in the mythologies and folklore of other, non Indo-European peoples, such as in the Nartian traditions. There are also accounts of giants in the Old Testament, most famously Goliath, Og King of Bashan, the Nephilim, the Anakim, and the giants of Egypt mentioned in 1 Chronicles 11:23. Attributed to them are extraordinary strength and physical proportions. Fairy tales such as “Jack the Giant Killer” have formed our modern perception of giants as stupid and violent monsters, sometimes said to eat humans, especially children (though this is actually a confusion with ogres, which are distinctly cannibalistic). The ogre in “Jack and the Beanstalk” is often described as a giant. In some more recent portrayals, like those of Jonathan Swift and Roald Dahl, some giants are both intelligent and friendly.
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