A giant is an extraordinarily large humanoid creature, often with eldritch powers. Although frequently depicted as dull-witted, some giants are capable magicians, powerful fighters, or possessed of magical powers.
Giants in Dungeons & DragonsEdit
Giants in Dungeons & Dragons are split into different types. In roughly increasing order of size and strength, these are:
- Hill Giants
- Stone Giants
- Cloud Giants
- Fire Giants
- Frost Giants
- Storm Giants
Types of Giant in MythologyEdit
The name giant is derived from the Gigantes of ancient Greek mythology, who were a race of powerful beings who went to war with the gods. They were the offspring of Gaia (the Earth), and their name literally means Earth-born.
In the earliest archaeological records of the Gigantes, they were human-sized rather than large, but they were described in increasingly hyperbolic terms until their description as larger than human was confirmed in the Bibliotheca of the first or second century CE.
Other enormous, giant-like beings from Greek mythology include:
- the Titans, the race of beings who preceded and gave birth to the gods (only to be overthrown by them). They are sometimes depicted with snakes for legs.
- the Cyclopes, or "wheel-eyed", one-eyed beings of giant stature.
- the Hecatoncheires, or hundred-handers, who helped the gods overthrow the Titans.
A jǫtunn (in Old Norse, or ettin in Old English) is a member of a race of beings from Norse mythology who are similar to the Norse gods, but not of the divine familes of the Aesir (including Odin and Thor) or the Vanir (including Freyr and Freya). The term jǫtunn is sometimes translated into English as giant, although only a small number of jǫtnar (the plural form) were depicted in the myths of being of great size. These include Ymir, the primordial giant whose body was born from a block of ice and became the world, and Útgarða-Loki (aka Skrýmir), who pranks Thor and Loki with illusion magic.
Certain jǫtnar in Norse mythology inspired later classifications of giants as frost giants of Niflheim (based on Ymir's poetic description as a hrimthurs or icy monster, and the scant description of Niflheim as a cold realm) and fire giants (based on the appearance of the jǫtunn Surtr and his home realm of Muspell or Muspelheim, who is associated with flames and Ragnarok).