One of the major themes of mythologies around the world relate to the concept of giants. It's easy to extrapolate and super-size up the human body to giant proportions (Hollywood's done that a few times in Grade-B sci-fi flicks), and there are many tall tales and fairy tales/folklore about giants like the American Paul Bunyan or the kiddie favorite "Jack and the Beanstalk". However, while it's easy to imagine human giants, however, it becomes obvious pretty quickly that these giants can't be the case in reality without major anatomical alternations to the human physique.
Now let's say the average human is six foot tall. The maximum height for a human male is a fraction under nine feet; for a human female a fraction over 8 feet according to the "Guinness Book of Records", but humans much above 7 ½ feet are very rare indeed. 7 ½ feet and below isn't really giant-sized, just very tall. A real giant say is at least double the human average - say 12 foot high - and that and more is not all that uncommon in the mythological literature and all cultures have tales of people of exceptional size. However, most of the mythological giants tend to be under twelve feet - like Goliath cited as being somewhere from a bit under seven feet to just under ten feet.
The main problem regarding human giants is, if you double the height, and associated width and breadth as well, you increase the body's mass by a factor of eight. The person weighs eight times as much. However, the supporting structure, the cross-section (width and breadth) of the legs (muscle and bone) has only increased by a factor of four. So your legs are four times as thick, but they must support a weight eight times as great. If you triple the dimensions you have 27 times the mass, but only nine times the supporting area for that weight. A fourfold increase sees a massive increase in weight to 64 times normal; the supporting structure is however only 16 times greater. The ecological catchcry of 'limits to growth' takes on a new meaning here.
Thus, while human giants are grand Hollywood entertainment, films like "The Amazing Colossal Man" or "Attack of the 50-Foot Woman" can't be taken for anything more than that - pure (put your brain on the shelf for the duration) entertainment.
So there are limits to growth. If some of the giants of mythology can't be human, and if they aren't purely figments of the imagination, then they are probably extraterrestrials.
It doesn't take too awfully long for giants to make their appearance on Earth according to the Bible.
Apparently way back towards the near beginning of all things, the Biblical 'sons of God' and the 'daughters of men' did their 'be fruitful and multiply bit'.
Now what's this 'sons of God' and 'daughters of men' bit? In Genesis 6:2 [New King James Version] we have: "that the sons of God saw the daughters of men; that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose."
According to the Old Testament [New King James Version], "There were giants [Nephilim] on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them." (Genesis 6:4). However, since these giants are the products of the sons of God* (who must therefore also be gods) and human women, these giants must only be demigods.
Now the 'sons of God' couldn't have been too giant-sized in their own right if they were to have their wicked way with the 'daughters of men', yet their giant-sized offspring were - well, giant-sized that is. Numbers 13:33 [New King James Version] states "There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight." If humans were like grasshoppers in size relative to the giants (the offspring of the 'sons of God' and the 'daughters of men') then something's screwy somewhere, unless either the 'sons of God' or their giant [Nephilim] offspring were shape-shifters. That something is screwy somewhere actually comes as no real surprise considering it's the Bible - the most contradictory text ever written.
Those other 'gods', the polytheistic deities, also spent a lot of time screwing each other and us humans. The sexual exploits of the 'gods' (especially the Greek 'gods') would put modern swinging and swingers to shame. The 'gods' were really quite a randy lot and not just the male 'gods' but a fair few of the fairer sex 'goddesses' as well. We're well acquainted with Eros (Cupid) and Aphrodite (Venus) as to their job descriptions.
For example, according to ancient Greek mythology, in the beginning there was the Earth Goddess Gaia and her son the Sky God Uranus who had a bit of a role in the hay together and produced not only the 12 Titans but also the Cyclopes trio of Arges (Bright), Brontes (Thunderer) and Steropes (Lightning-Maker). The Titans eventually went head-to-head with the Olympians (Zeus and company) for world (or at least Mediterranean) domination, but the Cyclopes, treated somewhat badly by daddy, all turned turncoats and helped Zeus defeat the Titans.
Now the Cyclopes were expert metal-smiths, and they fashioned the thunderbolts for Zeus, Poseidon's trident, and Hades' helmet of invisibility which played key roles in that epic war-in-heaven. The Cyclopes are said by the Roman epic poet Virgil to have been as tall as forest trees, so a height way more than 12 feet would not be out of order.
Now as gods in their own right (being the offspring of Gaia and Uranus), the Cyclopes are immortal (or quasi-immortal as nothing lives forever); but they, like most other quasi-immortal gods, well the various Cyclopes weren't invincible or invulnerable. In fact the Greek god Apollo bumped off our trio in revenge for Zeus killing Apollo's son with a thunderbolt that the Cyclopes had made for Zeus in the first place; Zeus then had to punish Apollo, but that's another story.
Odysseus did some major damage to the Cyclops Polyphemus (a second generation Cyclops fathered by the God of the Sea, Poseidon) in Homer's "The Odyssey", thus incurring the wrath of the Sea God who made Odysseus' life quite a miserable one for many years.
So why not consider Polyphemus purely fictitious? Well, "The Odyssey" is the sequel and companion volume to "The Illiad", and it was Heinrich Schliemann who had such faith in the historical accuracy of "The Illiad" that he used it has the historical text in which to find and uncover the apparent mythological or fictitious city of Troy. He did! So, if the "Illiad" isn't pure storytelling; perhaps the "The Odyssey" isn't either.
Now the Cyclopes are clearly too large to be based on the purely human anatomical plan. A real human the size of a forest tree would have to have leg bones made of metal or stone.
The one eye of the Cyclopes suggests something non-terrestrial. No terrestrial species has one eye, very rare mutations (called obviously enough 'cyclopia') aside.
The Cyclopes clearly possessed very advanced technology that enabled the Olympians to defeat the Titans.
Now more likely as not, the Cyclopes collectively were either an alien race in their own right and not literally the offspring of Gaia and Uranus, or the results of the 'gods' experiments in genetic engineering. The later makes the idea of a creation, of offspring, more understandable.
Now mother and son (Gaia and Uranus) weren't quite through producing giants. They actually parented another trio of giants, the Hecatoncheires, who had 50 heads and 100 arms/hands each! Perhaps these giants were again really the end result of some more genetic tinkering on the part of the 'gods'. Anyway, the Hecatoncheires were also treated badly by daddy, so they too ultimately joined forces with Zeus against the Titans. Daddy meantime came to a bad end having his private parts cut off, but again, that's another story.
As to the liaison between the Earth Goddess Gaia (mother) and the Sky God Uranus (son), well if they were both really extraterrestrials, then you couldn't expect their moral or ethical codes to mirror ours of necessity.
But the one-eyed creatures of mythology don't start and stop with the first and second generation of the Cyclopes of Greek (or Roman) mythology. While there's not room to make a detailed account of them all, there's the legendary Norse/German half-human character of Hagen who in a few accounts is one-eyed. Hagen is today probably best known for his role in the downfall and slaying of Siegfried in Richard Wagner's concluding opera of his epic Ring Cycle, "Gotterdammerung".
Then there's Balor of the Evil Eye, a god of death who was a king of the Fomorians, a race of giants in Irish mythology. Balor (or Balar or Bolar) had one eye in the middle of his forehead and you most certainly didn't want him looking at you! Fortunately, he too came to a sticky end at the hand of his grandson.
In conclusion, when it comes to giants in general or the Cyclopes in particular, we have yet again a universal theme in mythology. When it comes to mythology, my basic premise is that anytime you have near universal themes between wildly dispersed in space and/or time cultures, ethnic groups, nationalities, whatever, then you sit up and take notice that something more than just human imagination is at work.
*So Jesus Christ had brothers, presumably older and far larger brothers! The Big Question however is who was God's wife (or mistress) by which God fathered the 'sons of God', or does God reproduce asexually? Maybe there isn't a Mrs. God or she's kept well out of sight. God doesn't seem to be an equal opportunity player. His offspring are all male (J.C. and the 'sons of God'); so are his cast and crew (the angels) entirely male and he deals with males like Noah, Moses, Enoch, Abraham, etc. Even Adam came before Eve and those two only produced male offspring (which is another whole can of worms glossed over by the faithful). It would appear that the polytheistic gods are heads and shoulders above the monotheistic God when it comes to the status of women.
Science librarian; retired.
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