18 July 2021- Giants in British Folklore and Mythology contd

By | August 3, 2021

In the session we discussed the role of the mythological heroes taking over from the gods in their constant battle against the giants.

Gilgamesh from Sumerian and Babylonian myths fought the giant Humbaba, the guardian of the cedar forest. Humbaba was friendly with the gods and was installed as forest guardian by Enlil (the father of the gods). Enlil cursed Gilgamesh for killing his guardian. Possibly we could put Humbaba in the same category as the co-operative giants from the early creation myths?

Fionn MacCumhaill from the Irish Celtic myths was held captive by the Giant of Lough Our on the eve of Samhain, but then later released in a weakened state. Possibly this is a version of the cycle of the season mythology, with the Giant representing winter, and Fionn as the sun god, released in time for spring?

We moved on then to see the way in which the hero versus giant myths filtered down into folklore, with stories of local folk heroes who also killed their giants- King Arthur, Jack the Giant Killer, the humble widow’s son who killed the Red Ettin and rescued the King of Scotland’s daughter.