giant, in mythology, manlike being of great size and strength. The giant has been the symbol for the expression of certain recurring beliefs in the mythologies of all races. He is universally represented as being a brutish power of nature, lacking the stature of gods and the civilization and cunning of men. Among the myths of such different cultures as the Greeks, the Scandinavians, and the Native Americans of the Great Plains, giants were believed to be the first race of people that inhabited the earth. Two of the most familiar legends concerning giants are those of Jack the Giant Killer and David and Goliath.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.