fifteen cubits, Flood, Francesco Sansovino, Giants in Those Days, half-giant, height of biblical giants, homoerotic macrophilia, Honorius Augustodunensis, Honorius of Autun, Margutte, Nephilim, Og, Walter Stephens
Readers often write in to ask: how tall were the Giants in the Bible? Remnant of Giants has already provided an answer to the question, ‘How tall was Goliath?‘. But what about the other biblical Giants? How tall were they?
- Q. How do we know the height of the Giants who survived the Flood?
- A. Giants who survived the Flood must be at least 15 cubits (23 feet) tall.
It is a matter of logic. The Bible tells us that the Great Flood covered the mountains by 15 cubits, killing all flesh. Yet, the antedeluvian Giants, the Nephilim of Genesis 6, appear alive and well after the flood (in Numbers 13). Ergo, the Giants who survived the flood must have been more than 15 cubits tall!
(There are also other ingenious explanations for how the Giants managed to survive the Flood. For example, one rabbinic explanation claims that King Og managed to escape the Flood by holding onto the outside of Noah’s Ark. But if this is true, it doesn’t help us determine the height of the Giants, because any fool can hold onto an Ark for a year. So, we’re just arbitrarily going with the other explanation.)
Walter Stephens, in his wonderful book, Giants in Those Days, claims that the idea of Giants being 15-cubits tall was “an erudite commonplace” in the Middle Ages. For this erudite insight into the height of giants, Stephens cites the twelfth-century theologian Honorius of Autun or Honorius Augustodunensis (PL 172.165) and sixteenth-century Italian man of letters, Francesco Sansovino (p. 65).
Sansovino reported that some Tuscan folk had this saying: “Ed hebbi voglia anco io d’esser gigante / Vedi che sette braccia sono a punto.” But according to Stephens, these lines didn’t really originate with Tuscan folk at all. Instead, they reproduce part of the self-description by the “half-giant” Margutte in a fifteenth-century work by Luigi Pulci, Morgante: “Ed ebbi voglia anco io d’esser gigante, / Poi mi penti’ quando al mezzo fu’ giunto, / Vedi che sette braccia sono a punto” (18.113.6-8). Stephens translates the lines: “And I also desired to be a Giant, but I thought better of it when I had arrived halfway – note that I’m exactly seven cubits tall.”
So why was Margutte a “half-giant”? Because he was only “sette braccia” (7 cubits), not 15 cubits, tall – which, allowing for some rounding, is half-way to a full giant. So that fairly much settles the question about the height of the Giants who survived the Flood.
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