Ancient Origins IRAQ Tour

Odysseus escaping from the cave of Polyphemus by Flemish Jacob Jordaens (1635) (Public Domain)

Giants Among Men Who Walked The Earth

Today, overachievers are often called “giants in their field" and “giants among men”- terms which define talent, ability and zeal. However, in the ancient world, the word “giant” applied to the oversized, generally supernatural, larger than life beings of mythology and religion. The Greeks presented the Titans and the Bible has the barbaric Goliath, while modern mythologists have created Gulliver and the Big Friendly Giant (BFG), but between the lines of folklore and supernatural narratives, giants really did walk on earth. Not the giants associated with Smithsonian Institute conspiracies though, but mega-tall individuals and races of people who stood above the average at their respective times in history.

Giants Among Men Who Walked The Earth

David faces the giant Goliath, lithograph by Osmar Schindler (1888) (Public Domain)

The word “giant” was first coined in 1297 AD, from ‘gigans’, or the “gigantes” of Greek mythology, and currently the word is used to describe larger than average people who suffer ‘gigantism.’ This very rare medical condition happens when a child is exposed to higher levels of growth hormones in their bodies before the fusion of the growth plate which generally occurs soon after puberty. This condition affects about three people in a million, worldwide, and in most cases, the increased growth is a sign of Hyperplasia (abnormal tumors) on the pituitary gland. 

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