Foot Steps of Giants
The mythology and legends of many different cultures include monsters of human appearance but prodigious size and strength. "Giant" is the English word commonly used for such beings, 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, Hindu or Norse.
There are also other stories featuring giants in the Old Testament, perhaps most famously Goliath. Attributed to them are superhuman strength and physical proportions, a long lifespan, and thus a great deal of knowledge as well.
Fairy tales such as Jack and the Beanstalk have formed our modern perception of giants as stupid and violent monsters, frequently said to eat humans, and especially children. However, in some more recent portrayals, like those of Roald Dahl, some giants are both intelligent and friendly.
Gigantism, also known as giantism (from Greek gigas, gigantas "giant"), is a condition characterized by excessive growth and height significantly above average. This condition is caused by an over production of human growth hormone.
The term is typically applied to those whose height is not just in the upper 1% of the population but several standard deviations above mean for persons of the same sex, age, and ethnic ancestry. The term is seldom applied to those who are simply "tall" or "above average" whose heights appear to be the healthy result of normal genetics and nutrition. It is usually caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland on the brain. It causes growth of the hands, face, and feet.
Other names somewhat obsolete for this pathology are hypersomia (Greek: hyper over the normal level; soma body) and somatomegaly (Greek; soma body, object pronoun somatos of the body; megas, megalos great). In the past, while many of them were social outcasts because of their height, some (usually unintentionally) found employment in Friedrich Wilhelm I's famous Potsdam Giants regiment.
Many of those who have been identified with gigantism have suffered from multiple health problems involving their circulatory or skeletal system.
Giants in Pop Culture
Giants are a staple in fantasy, and also appear in other genres.
* The Brobdingnagians, from the book Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift.
* From the Children's television series Dragon Tales, The dragons & Max, Emmy & Enrique encountered Mungus the giant, first strange, later friendly.
* The giant, Giant Rumblebuffin from the book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, revived by Aslan to fight the White Witch.
* Giants were the main theme of the 1960s television series, Land of the Giants
* Hagrid in the Harry Potter series is a half-giant, as is Olympe Maxime. Hagrid's half-brother, Grawp, is a full-blooded giant.
* The adventures of the protagonist in Poul Anderson's "Three Hearts and Three Lions" include an enounter with a fearsome - but not too bright - giant.
* The Magic: The Gathering collectible card game features many Giant creatures.
* The fantasy series The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson has several significant giants.
* In the Spiderwick Chronicles, giants are incredibly large beings ancestral to ogres who spend most of their adult lives in hibernation and capable of breathing fire.
* The giant Despair appears in John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress.
* The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) is a children's book by Roald Dahl about a friendly, dream-delivering giant. The other giants in the book are evil.
* Numerous types of giants appear in the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game including the famous module Against the Giants.
* Numerous types of giants (ice, hill, moss, and fire) appear in the MMORPG RuneScape.
* André the Giant was featured in Sports Illustrated on December 21, 1981, and is still considered one of the most popular wrestlers of all time. He also starred in the popular movie The Princess Bride as Fezzik, the gentle giant.
* Ultraman Tiga, the 1996 entry in the Ultra Series, heavily uses the mythical giant genre in its fictional back-story. In addition, many other shows throughout the franchise often refer to its lead heroes as Giant of Light.
* Paul Bunyan is a popular giant lumberjack in American folklore.
* The H.G. Wells book The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth depicts the discovery of a special food which can make children grown on it into 40-foot giants, and the upheaval this discovery causes in the world.
* The Zentradi, a fictional extraterrestrial race of giants from The Super Dimension Fortress Macross Japanese anime series and its Robotech American adaptation.