Why did giants have snake legs?

  • Why did giants have snake legs? The giants, who were destined by Gaea to kill one divine being (except for Orion) each, has scaly, snakelike legs.

    It wouldn't seem that they would be any help. Was it on purpose? An accident?


    As shown in the pic, the giant has snake legs.

    Hi. Do you think you could be more exact as to what you're discussing here? Even if some of us recognize what you mean, pictures or texts or whatever book you're using to get this information would be beneficial to more people. Thanks!

  • cmw

    cmw Correct answer

    6 years ago

    Early representations of giants actually looked normal and human. Consider this representation of Alcyoneus, the king of the giants:

    The winged god Hypnos (Sleep personified) crouches in slumber on the chest of the giant Alkyoneus. The giant reclines in sleep, holding his club, and surrounded by his cattle. Herakles (not shown) sneaks up upon him.
    (source: theoi.com) (http://www.theoi.com/Gallery/L1.2.html)

    It was in fact only in the Hellenistic era did giants acquire feet of snakes.1(Pausanias' Description of Greece, translated with a commentary by J. G. Frazer, vol. 6 1898.) Why exactly they were chosen to be represented this way is unknown, but it makes sense, considering that the giants are the offspring of Gaia (the earth), and serpents in Mediterranean religion (and elsewhere) are—for very obvious reasons—intimately connected with land and with Gaia herself. It was probably just to symbolically show their origins.

    1: Pausanias' Description of Greece, translated with a commentary by J. G. Frazer, vol. 6 1898.

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