Giants (Greek mythology)

The Giants ( gr: Γίγαντες ) are figures of Greek mythology. They tried the most common myth Gigantomachia to overthrow the Olympian gods.


According to the oldest tradition, the Theogony of Hesiod, the giants emerged just as the Furies and the ash nymphs from the drops of blood that fell to the Earth when Kronos castrated his father Uranus. The mother of the Giants is the goddess Gaia, the earth personified in Greek mythology. In Apollodorus Gaia gives birth to the giants of anger over the Titans, the paternity of Uranus is merely mentioned.

In Bacchylides, Diodorus, Ovid, Virgil and Nonno's only her mother Gaia is called. On the one hand because Gaia their children can give birth out of itself, even without a father, on the other hand because the giants are supported in the gigantomachy by her mother, her father but does not happen again. In the Description of Greece by Pausanias only her father Uranus is called in order to clarify the phylogenetic relationship of the giants of the Titans and the Olympic gods. Hyginus names the name of Ge for Gaia as the Mother of the giants, but Tartaros as their father.


According to Hesiod, the Giants were " bright umblinkt of weapons, superior long spear ' in their hands. " Apollodorus describes them as unsurpassed in its size and force of fearsome appearance and with snake scales on the lower legs. After Claudian they were armed with clubs, tree trunks and boulders and Ovid she could with her powers even mountains piled one above the other, and Gaius Valerius Flaccus Diodorus mention only their monstrous size. When King and leader of the giants Homer calls the Eurymedon.

A motif that was often represented in the fine arts, were giants with legs ending in snake body, as well as Ovid describes them. The most common presentation is the giant frieze of the Pergamon Altar, which shows the battle of the giants against the Olympian gods during gigantomachy. Pausanias, however, considers the idea of ​​snakes instead of legs absurd. Nonno's turn, she describes with snake hair and two hundred hands.


They were especially as sons of their mother Gaia ( Gaea ), which they supported in their fight against the Olympians. This battle between giants and Olympians is called gigantomachy. The victory of the Olympians should be possible only through the help of mortal beings because giants can not be killed by Gods hand. This assistance came the Olympians by Dionysus and Heracles, both sons of Zeus, he had fathered with mortal mothers, in particular, Herakles contributed decisively to victory against the Giants.

A miracle herb that Gaia allowed to grow, the giants, however, should help against the gods, since they could be characterized not killed by mortals. When Zeus learned of this, he forbade Eos, the morning light, Selene, the moon, and Helios, the sun, the children of the Titan Hyperion and Theia pair to shine until he had found this yourself.

Name of the Giants

The names of the giants mentioned in several sources. The oldest is the Odyssey, in which the leader of the giants Eurymedon is mentioned. Some names have been preserved on Attic vases of the 6th century BC. Virgil and Propertius are the first writer in which giants are mentioned by name to Homer. The first source that contains a list of names, the Libraries of Apollodorus. Pausanias mentions in his travels in Greece few names that are due in part to local takeovers of giants myth. In addition, the lists of names are still handed down in Hyginus and Nonnus.

The giants have been confused by some late antique authors with the Titans. Hyginus accordingly leads to Titans also among the giants, namely Astraeus, Iapetus, Coeus and Pallas. The gigantomachy seems to have been understood as a mere imitation of the Titans. Also the Aloide Otos is counted by Hyginus to the giants. The name of his brother Ephialtes is the same as that of said already in Hesiod giants Ephialtes. To this end, joins in older narratives of the attack of the Aloiden to Olympus directly to the gigantomachy to, so this can be considered a mistake. Even the monster Typhon, the Hesiod still describes as an independent character shall be added to the giants of Hyginus. Nonnus describes the Typhon of the older authors, takes the name but also in the collection of the giants on.


The giant was by some authors the epithet Gegeneis ( gr: Γηγενεῖς ) given the means Earthborn. As a noun used the epithet was also used as the sole name for the giants.

Name list ( incomplete)