Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia


Jaiant, Jaians, Jaianz

In the rich tapestry of Arthurian legend, giants emerge as a formidable and diverse beings, varying greatly in size and stature. From towering behemoths to more modesly sized creatures, giants add a sense of awe and wonder to the tales of knights and heroes.

Legendary creatures

Giants are legendary beings found in the mythologies and folklore of many cultures around the world. They are often depicted as enormous humanoid creatures of immense strength and size, towering over ordinary humans and often possessing supernatural abilities. Giants are typically associated with wilderness, mountains, and remote regions.

Throughout history, giants have appeared in various mythological traditions, including Norse, Greek, and Celtic mythology, and folklore from other cultures. In Celtic mythology and folklore, giants are often associated with the landscape, particularly mountains and hills. They are sometimes portrayed as guardians of the land or as figures of awe and fear. Examples include the Scottish giant Benandonner, who is said to have built the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, and the Welsh giant Bran the Blessed, whose head became the mystical centerpiece of the kingdom of Britain.

Range of Sizes

The Giant of Saint Michael’s Mount stands out as a colossal figure, evidenced by his chilling act of splitting Hoel’s wife in half. This depiction aligns with the tradition of ogres seen in stories like Jack the Giant Killer. Conversely, giants like Hargodabrans, standing at fifteen feet tall, and Taulurd, too massive for any horse, exemplify the immense scale of these beings.

However, not all giants loom over the landscape. Some, like Nabon le Noire and Taulas, are compact enough to ride horseback, showcasing the diverse range of sizes within the giant species.

Different Interpretations

The characterization of giants varies, with some depicted as simply exceptionally large men, such as Carados of the Dolorous Tower and his brother Sir Turquine. Others, like Lucius’ bodyguard, are described as a race apart, perhaps even engendered by fiends, adding an element of mystique and otherworldliness to their origin.

Possible Speciation

Speculation arises regarding the possibility of multiple species of giants, hinting at a complex and diverse ecosystem within Arthurian lore. Some tales even suggest a connection between giants and the Saxons, although this theory remains speculative and open to interpretation. As ancient scriptures suggest, “There were giants in the earth in those days…” – a testament to the enduring fascination with these larger-than-life beings within Arthurian mythology.

Giant Rulers

Many giants are to be found in Celtic mythology and legend. Britain was said to have been ruled by a race of giants before the arrival of Brutus, who defeated them, though even he was accompanied by a “giant,” Corineus. Later giants tended to be portrayed as clumsy, greedy cannibals who dominated whole districts.

Here are a few giants from Sommer’s list.

  • Jaians, les deux
    Whom Lancelot killed near Camaalot.
  • Jaians, les deux, de Tinaguel
    Whom Lancelot killed before he is deceived by one of Morgan’s damsels.
  • Jaianz, les trois
    Whom Gawain kills near the Enchanted Orchard.

Giants in the Arthurian legends

In the list there are giants, giantesses as well as characters “built like a giant”.

Giants in the Arthurian legends

In the list there are characters, locations and items connected to giants.

See also
Topography and Local Legends | The Legend of King Arthur