Giants in History, Myth, and Legend (Part 3)

Greece          The Greeks had more than their share of giants.  
●  The Giants, Titans and Cyclopes include: Agrius, Alcyoneus, Aloeus, Alpus, Antaeüs, Arges, Atlas, Brontes, Chthonius, Clytius, Coeus, Crius, Cronus, Damasen, Enceladus, Ephialtes, Epimetheus, Eurytus, Gegenees, Gration, Hippolytus, Hopladamus, Hyperion, Lapetus, Metis, Mimas, Mnemosyne, Oceanus, Orion, Orius, Otus, Pallas, Peloreus, Phoebe, Polybotes, Porphyrion, Prometheus, Rhea, Steropes, Talus, Tethys, Thea, Themis, Thoas, Thurius, and Typhoeus. 

●  Antimenidas’ Victory
Strabo mentions a royal champion of gigantic stature who was slain, after “a great struggle,” by Antimenidas, of Mitylene in Lesbos, a soldier brother of the famed Greek poet Alcaeus.


●  From the history of the voyage of Capt. Cowley, an Englishman, in 1583, appears an account of giants: The Indian inhabitants of this island were all well made, active, vigorous, and some of them seven feet and an half high. Capt. Cowley took as he says, four of these Infidels prisoners, which to be sure, being a good Christian, he had a right to do; and it appears by the sequel of the account, that he treated them as other good Christians had treated Infidels, which strength or cunning had put into their power. “We brought them on board, says he, tying their hands behind them, but they had not been long there before three of them leapt overboard into the sea, swimming away from the ship with their hand bound behind them we sent a boat after them, and fund that a strong man at the first blow could not penetrate their skins with a cutlas. One of them had received, in my judgment, forty shots in his body before he died, and the last of the three that was killed had swam a good English mile, though his hands were not only tied behind him, but his arms pinioned.”


●  German Prodigy
The “German Giant” claimed a height of nine feet six inches. On August 15,1664, Pepys went to Charing Cross, “and there saw the great Dutchman that is come over, under whose arm I went with my hat on, and could not reach higher than his eyebrows with the tip of my fingers. He is a comely and well-made man, and his wife a very little but pretty comely Dutch woman.” Pepys then adds: “It is true, he wears pretty high-heeled shoes, but not very high, and do generally wear a turban, which makes him show yet taller than he really is.” One of his handbills reads: “The true Effigies of the German Giant, now to be seen at the Swan, near Charing Cross, whose stature is nine foot and a half in height, and the span of his hand a cubit compleat. He goes from place to place with his wife, who is but of an ordinary stature, and takes money for the shew of her husband.”

●  Leyden’s Giant Man
Dr. Thomas Molyneux examined the osfrontis or forehead bone of a giant man preserved in the school of medicine at Leyden that measured about twenty-one inches from orbit to orbit, or “twice as large as a common bone of this sort in a full-grown man.”

●  John Tates 
Isbrand Diemerbroeck, in his Anatomy, relates that in 1665, at Utrecht, Holland, he saw a man eight and a half feet tall, well-proportioned, and of great strength. The giant’s name was John Tates, born at Schoonhoven in Holland. Tates is also mentioned by Ray in his topographical Observations, by Dr. Robert Plot in his Staffordshire, 1686, and by Dr. Thomas Molyneux in the Philosophical Transactions of 1700.


●  James Paris du Plessis, in his Short History of Human Prodigies, Dwarfs, etc., reports that a Hungarian, known as the “Monstrous Tartar,” was exhibited at “Ye Globe in the ould Baily in February 1664. He was taken prisoner by Count Serini and was a creature of extraordinary strength and valour, who, having spent all his arrows in fight against the Christians, was taken alive and so continues being carefully kept in those parts.”


●  Before the Incan times, Wiraccocha created the heavens and the earth, he first created a race of giants.


●  Irish tradition recounts that the brutal, warlike Fomorians were “giants” who invaded in ships from Africa, and demanded children at Halloween time.  They were finally driven north to the Hebrides Isles off northwest Scotland and to Tory Island off northwest Ireland in the deep Atlantic. From there, they preyed on the people of Ulster. The Formorian giants were supposedly endowed with double-rows of teeth.

●  Fitzgerald
In its August 1, 1732, issue, the Daily Post thought it worth a paragraph to let its readers know that “about the middle of July, an Irishman named Fitzgerald who was seven feet high and a lieutenant in the King of Prussia’s Guards, came to London.

●  Edmund Malone 
In the Philosophical Transactions for 1698, Dr. William Musgrave issued the following report on the Irish giant Edmund Malone: “The measure of some of the parts of this Irish-man, nineteen years of age, shown at Oxford, were communicated to me by Dr. Plot. He was seven feet six inches high, his finger six inches and three quarters long, the length of his span fourteen inches, of his cubit (the distance from the elbow to the finger-tips) two feet two inches, of his arm three feet two inches and a quarter, from the shoulder to the crown of his head eleven inches and three-quarters.” Earlier, in 1684, the giant appeared before the Court of Charles II. The amazed king walked under his outstretched arm, an event that Malone mentioned thereafter in his handbills, as in the following: “The Gyant; or the Miracle of Nature. Being that so much admired young man, aged nineteen years last June, 1684. Born in Ireland, of such a prodigious height and bigness, and every way proportionable, the like hath not been seen since the memory of man: he hath been several times shown at court, and his majesty was pleased to walk under his arm, and he is grown very much since, he now reaches ten foot and a half, fathoms near eight foot, spans fifteen inches; and is believed to be as big as one of the giants in Guildhall. He is to be seen at the sign of the Catherine Wheell in Southwark fair. Vivat Rex.”

●  Murphy, the Irish Giant
Working on the Liverpool Docks apparently did not appeal much to Murphy, the Irish giant. So he quit to wait on tables at the hotel. But because he was a man of extraordinary height, Murphy drew large crowds to the hotel. One day he decided he might as well get paid for being a curiosity and began exhibiting himself. In May of 1857, the Emperor and Empress of Austria invited the touring County Down native to appear before them. Before he died of smallpox at Marseilles, at the age of twenty-six, Murphy had amassed a small fortune. He measured almost nine feet and weighed three hundred and thirty-six pounds.

●  Shawn Nabontree 
On December 6, 1856, the Mayo Constitution carried this obituary: “One of the last of the mythical line of Irish giants, in the person of Shawn Nabontree, died at Connemara, Ireland, on Friday last. He owed his sobriquet to his unusual stature, being a man of extraordinary athletic symmetry-namely, seven feet in height, and weighing over twenty stone [280 pounds]. His family, the Joyces, has been for many years one of the wonders of Connemara. He died at the age of seventy, and has left four stalwart sons.”

●  Patrick Cotter O’Brien 
Patrick Cotter O’Brien was a native of Kinsale in the kingdom of Ireland and measured nearly nine feet high. O’Brien’s great size sometimes placed him in humorous situations. In an article published in the Mirror for 1826, his hairdresser, who lived at Northampton, noted that the giant was a man of mild disposition, but he recalled when “an impertinent visitant excited his choler one day, during his residence here [at Northampton], by illiberal allusions to the land of his birth. The Philistine was sensible of the insult, seized the prig by the collar, held him out at arm’s length, and gave him three or four mild agitations.” Another time, O’Brien was riding in his coach, which was about to be robbed. Because of his huge frame, his carriage maker had adapted the coach to his better use. By sinking the foundation some feet, the maker found a way to accommodate his long legs without changing the carriage’s appearance very much. So when the highwayman rode out into the road and stopped the coach he expected nothing out of the ordinary. But as O’Brien put “his head forward to observe the cause that impeded his progress, the highwayman was struck with such a panic, that he clapped spurs to his horse and made a precipitate retreat.”

●  Pritchard on Irish Giants
In his History of Mankind, Dr. Pritchard writes: “In Ireland men of uncommon stature are often seen, and even a gigantic form and stature occur there much more frequently than in this island: yet all the British isles derived their stock of inhabitants from the same sources. We can hardly avoid the conclusion that there must be some peculiarity in Ireland which gives rise to these phenomena.” “Frederick the Great ascended the throne, he soon afterward disbanded the enormously expensive regiment of giants and, with the money saved, established in their place four regiments of men of ordinary stature.”

Part  4
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