Brewer's: Giants

(g soft).

(1) Of Greek mythology, sons of Tartaros and Ge. When they attempted to storm heaven, they were hurled to earth by the aid of Hercules, and buried under Mount Etna.

(2) Of Scandinavian mythology, were evil genii, dwelling in Jötunheim (giantland), who had the power of reducing or extending their stature at will.

(3) Of nursery mythology, are cannibals of vast stature and immense muscular power, but as stupid as they are violent and treacherous. The best known are Blunderbore (q.v.), Cormoran ( q.v.), Galliantus (q.v.), Gombo (q.v.), Megadore and Bellygan.

(4) In the romance of Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Rabelais, giants mean princes.

(5) Giants of Mythology.

ACAMAS. One of the Cyclops. (Greek fable.)


ÆGÆON, the hundred-handed. One of the Titans. (Greek fable.)

AGRIOS. One of the Titans. He was killed by the Parcæ. (Greek fable. )

ALCYONEUS [Al-si-o-nuce], or ALCION. Jupiter sent Hercules against him for stealing some of the Sun's oxen. But Hercules could not do anything, for immediately the giant touched the earth he received fresh strength. (See below, Antæos.) At length Pallas carried him beyond the moon. His seven daughters were metamorphosed into halcyons. (Argonautic Expedition, i. 6.)

ALGEBAR. The giant Orion is so called by the Arabs.


ALOEOS. Son of Poseidon Canace. Each of his two sons was 27 cubits high. (Greek fable.)

AMERANT. A cruel giant slain by Guy of Warwick. (Percy: Reliques.)

ANGOULAFFRE (q.v.). (See below, 21 feet.)

ANTÆOS (q.v.; see above, Alcyoneus). (See below, 105 feet.)

ARGES (2 syl.). One of the Cyclops. (Greek fable.)

ASCAPART (q.v.).

ATLAS (q.v.).

BALAN (q.v.).

BELLE (1 syl.) (q.v.).

BELLERUS (q.v.).

BLUNDERBORE (3 syl.). (q.v.).

BRIAREOS or BRIAREUS (3 syl.) (q.v.).


BRONTES (2 syl.) (q.v.).

BURLOND (q.v.).

CACOS or CACUS (q.v.).


CARACULIAMBO. The giant that Don Quixote intended should kneel at the feet of Dulcinea. (Cervantes: Don Quixote.)

CARUS. In the Seven Champions.

CHALBROTH. The stem of all the giant race. (Rabelais: Pantagruel ). CHRISTOPHERUS. (See Christopher, St.)

CLYTIOS (q.v.).

CŒOS. Son of Heaven and Earth. He married Phœbe, and was the father of Latona. (Greek fable.)

COLBRAND. (See Colbronde.)



CORMORANT. A giant discomfited by Sir Brian. (Spenser: Faërie Queene, vi. 4.) COTTAS (q.v.).

COULIN (q.v.).

CYCLOPS (The (q.v.).

DESPAIR (q.v.).

DONDASCH (q.v.).


EPHLALTES (4 syl.) (q.v.).

ERIX (q.v.).

EURYTOS. One of the giants that made war with the gods. Bacchus killed him with his thyrsus. (Greek fable.)

FERREGUS, slain by Orgando, was 28 feet in height.

FERRACUTE (3 syl.) (q.v.).

FIERABRAS [Fe-a-ra-brah] (q.v.).

FION (q.v.).

FIORGWYN, the father of Frigga (Scandinavian mythology).


GALBARA. Father of Goliah of Secondille (3 syl.), and inventor of the custom of drinking healths. (Duchat: Œuvres de Rabelais. 1511.)

GALAPAS. The giant slain by King Arthur. (Sir T. Malory: History of Price Arthur.)




GARLAN. In the Seven Champions.

GEMMAGOG (q.v.).

GERYONEO (q.v.).

GIRALDA (q.v.).

GODMER (q.v.).


GOGMAGOG. King of the giant race of Albion; slain by Corineus.

GRANGOUSIER. The giant king of Utopia, father of Gargantua. (Rabelais: Gargantua.)


GRIM (q.v.).

GRUMBO (q.v.).


GYGES (2 syl.). One of the Titans. He had fifty heads and a hundred hands. (Greek fable.)

HAPMOUCHE (2 syl.) (q.v.).

HIPPOLYTOS. One of the giants who made war with the gods. He was killed by Hermês. (Greek fable.)

HRASVELG (q.v.).


HURTALI (q.v.).


IRUS (q.v.).

JOTUN. The giant of Jötunheim or Giant-land. (Scandinavian mythology.)

JULIANCE. A giant of Arthurian romance.

JUNNER (q.v.).

KIFRI. The giant of atheism and infidelity.

KOTTOS. One of the Titans. He had a hundred hands. (See Briareos.) (Greek fable.)


MARGUTTE (q.v.).

MAUGYS (q.v.)

MAUL (q.v.).


MORGANTE (3 syl.) (q.v.).

MUGILLO. -A giant famous for his mace with six balls.

OFFERUS (q.v.).

OGLAS (q.v.).

ORGOGLIO (q.v.).

ORION (q.v.. (See below, 80 ½ feet.)

OTOS (q.v.).

PALLAS (q.v.).


PHIDON. In the Seven Champions.

POLYBOTES (4 syl.) (q.v.).

POLYPHEMUS or POLYPHEME (3 syl.) (q.v.).


PYRACMON. One of the Cyclops. (Greek fable.)

RAPHSARUS. In the Seven Champions.

RITHO (q.v.).

RITHO. The giant who commanded King Arthur to send him his beard to complete the lining of a robe. In the Arthurian romance.

SKRYMIR. (See Draught of Thor, p. 380.)

SLAY-GOOD (q.v.).

STEROPES (3 syl.). One of the Cyclops. (Greek fable.)

TARTARO. The Cyclops of Basque mythology.

TEUTOBOCHUS (King. (See below, 30 feet.)

THAON. One of the giants who made war with the gods. He was killed by the Parcæ. (Greek fable.)

TITANS (The) (q.v.).

TITYOS (q.v.).


TYPHŒUS (q.v.).

TYPHON (q.v.).


YOHAK. The giant guardian of the caves of Babylon. (Southey: Thalaba, book v.)

Of these giants the following are note-worthy: 19 feet in height: A skeleton discovered at Lucerne in 1577. Dr. Plater is our authority for this measurement. 21 feet in height: Angoulaffre of the Broken Teeth, was 12 cubits in height. (A cubit was 21 inches.)

30 feet in height: Teutobochus, whose remains were discovered near the Rhone in 1613. They occupied a tomb 30 feet long. The bones of another gigantic skeleton were exposed by the action of the Rhone in 1456. If this was a human skeleton, the height of the living man must have been 30 feet.

80 ½ feet in height: Orion, according to Pliny, was 46 cubits in height.

105 feet in height: Antæos is said by Plutarch to have been 60 cubits in height. He furthermore adds that the grave of the giant was opened by Serbonios.

300 feet in height: The “monster Polypheme.” It is said that his skeleton was discovered at Trapani, in Sicily, in the fourteenth century. If this skeleton was that of a man, he must have been 300 feet in height.

(6) Giants of Real Life.

ANAK (of Bible history), father of the Anakim. The Hebrew spies said they were mere grasshoppers in comparison with these giants (Joshua xv. 14; Judges i. 20; and Numbers xiii. 33.)

ANAK. (See Brice.)

ANDRONI'CUS II. was 10 feet in height. He was grandson of Alexius Comnenus. Nicetas asserts that he had seen him.

BAMFORD (Edward) was 7 feet 4 inches. He died in 1768, and was buried in St. Dunstan's churchyard.

BATES (Captain) was 7 feet 11 1/2 inches. He was a native of Kentucky, and was exhibited in London in 1871. His wife (Anna Swann) was the same height.

BLACKER (Henry) was 7 feet 4 inches, and most symmetrical. He was born at Cuckfield, in Sussex, in 1724, and was called “The British Giant.”

BRADLEY (William) was 7 feet 9 inches in height. He was born in 1787, and died 1820. His birth is duly registered in the parish church of Market Weighton, in Yorkshire, and his right hand is preserved in the museum of the College of Surgeons.

BRICE (M. J.) exhibited under the name of Anak, was 7 feet 8 inches in height at the age of 26. He was born in 1840 at Ramonchamp, in the Vosges, and visited England 1862-5. His arms had a stretch of 95 1/2 inches, and were therefore 3 1/2 inches too long for symmetry.

BRUSTED (Von) was 8 feet in height. This Norway giant was exhibited in London in 1880.

BUSBY (John) was 7 feet 9 inches in height, and his brother was about the same. They were natives of Darfield, in Yorkshire.

CHANG, the Chinese giant, was 8 feet 2 inches in height. The entire name of this Chinese giant was Chang-Woo-Goo. He was exhibited in London in 1865-1866, and again in 1880. He was a native of Fychou.

CHARLEMAGNE was nearly 8 feet in height, and was so strong he could squeeze together three horseshoes with his hands.

COTTER (Patrick) was 8 feet 7 1/2 inches in height. This Irish giant died at Clifton, Bristol, in 1802. A cast of his hand is preserved in the museum of the College of Surgeons.

DANIEL, the porter of Oliver Cromwell, was a man of gigantic stature.

ELEA'ZER was 7 cubits (nearly 14 feet). Vitellius sent this giant to Rome; and he is mentioned by Josephus. N.B.—The height of Goliath was 6 cubits and a span.

Nothing can be a greater proof that the cubit was not 21 inches, for no recorded height of any giant known has reached 10 feet. The nearest approach to it was Gabara, the Arabian giant (9 feet 9 inches) mentioned by Pliny, and Middleton of Lancashire (9 feet 3 inches) mentioned by Dr. Plott. Probably a cubit was about 18 inches.

ELEIZEGUE (Joachim). Was 7 feet 10 inches in height. He was a Spaniard, and exhibited in the Cosmorama, Regent Street, London.

EVANS (William) was 8 feet at death. He was a porter of Charles I., and died in 1632.

FRANK (Big). Was 7 feet 8 inches in height. He was an Irishman whose name was Francis Sheridan, and died in 1870.

FRENZ (Louis) was 7 feet 4 inches in height. He was called “the French giant.”

FUNNUM (court giant of Eugene II.) was 11 feet 6 inches.

GABARA, the Arabian giant, was 9 feet 9 inches. This Arabian giant is mentioned by Pliny, who says he was the tallest man seen in the days of Claudius.

GILLY was 8 feet. This Swedish giant was exhibited in the early part of the nineteenth century.

GOLI'ATH was 6 cubits and a span (11 feet 9 inches, if the cubit = 21 inches, and the span = 9 inches).

note to the giant ELEAZER. If the cubit was 18 inches, then Goliath was the same height as the Arabian giant Gabara.

GORDON (Alíce) was 7 feet in height. She was a native of Essex, and died in 1737, at the age of 19.

HALE (Robert) was 7 feet 6 inches in height. He was born at Somerton, in Norfolk, and was called “the Norfolk giant” (1820-1862).

HAR'DRADA (Harold) was nearly 8 feet in height (“5 ells of Norway”), and was called “the Norway giant.” Snorro Sturleson says he was “about 8 feet in height.”

HOLMES (Benjamin) was 7 feet 6 inches in height. He was a Northumberland man, and was made sword-bearer of the Corporation of Worcester. He died in 1892.

JOHN FREDERICK, Duke of Brunswick, was 8 feet 6 inches in height.

KINTOLOCHUS REX was 15 feet 6 inches in height (!), 5 feet through the chest to the spine (1), and 10 feet across the shoulders (1). This, of course, is quite incredible.

LA PIERRE was 7 feet 1 inch in height. He was born at Stratgard, in Denmark.

LOUIS was 7 feet 4 inches in height. Called “the French giant.” His left hand is preserved in the museum of the College of Surgeons.

LOUISHKIN was 8 feet 5 inches in height. This Russian giant was drum-major of the Imperial Guards.

MCDONALD (James) was 7 feet 6 inches in height. He was born in Cork, Ireland, and died in 1760.

MCDONALD (Samuel) was 6 feet 10 inches in height. This Scotchman was usually called “Big Sam.” He was the Prince of Wales's footman, and died in 1802.

MAGRATH (Cornelius) was 7 feet 10 inches in height at the age of 16. He was an orphan reared by Bishop Berkeley, and died at the age of twenty (1740-1760).

MELLON (Edmund) was 7 feet 6 inches in height at the age of nineteen. He was born at Port Leicester, in Ireland (1740-1760).

MIDDLETON (John) was 9 feet 3 inches in height. “His hand was 17 inches long and 8 1/2 broad.” He was born at Hale, Lancashire, in the reign of James I. (See above, Gabara.) (Dr. Plott: Natural History of Staffordshire, p. 295.)

MILLER (Maximilian Christopher) was 8 feet in height. His hand measured 12 inches, and his forefinger was 9 inches long. This Saxon giant died in London at the age of sixty (1674-1734).

MURPHY was 8 feet 10 inches in height. This Irish giant was contemporary with O'Brien (see below), and died at Marseilles.

O'BRIEN, or CHARLES BYRNE, was 8 feet 4 inches in height. The skeleton of this Irish giant is preserved in the College of Surgeons. He died in Cockspur Street, London, and was contemporary with Murphy (1761-1783).

MAXIMI'NUS was 8 feet 6 inches in height. The Roman emperor, from 235 to 238.

O'BRIEN (Patrick) was 8 feet 7 inches in height. He died August 3, 1804, aged thirty-nine.

OG, King of Bashan. According to tradition, he lived 3,000 years, and walked beside the Ark during the Flood. One of his bones formed a bridge over a river. His bed (Deuteronomy iii. 11) was 9 cubits by 4 cubits. If the cubit was really 21 inches, this would make the bed 15 3/4 feet by 10 1/2. The great bed of Ware, Herts, is 12 feet by 12. (See above, Eleazar—note.)

OSEN (Heinrich) was 7 feet 6 inches in height at the age of 27, and weighed above 37 stone. He was born in Norway. (See above, Hardrada.)

PORUS was “5 cubits in height” (7 feet 6 inches). He was an Indian king who fought against Alexander the Great near the river Hydaspes. (Quintus Curtius: De rebus gestis Alexandri Magni.) Whatever the Jewish cubit was, the Roman cubit was not more than 18 inches.

RIECHART (J. H.) was 8 feet 4 inches in height. He was a native of Friedberg, and both his father and mother were of gigantic stature.

SALMERON (Martin) was 7 feet 4 inches in height. He was called “The Mexican Giant.”

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894

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