Death’s Messengers — Folk Story, & Background On The Gigantes Of Greek Mythology (Giants)

November 24, 2016 in Stories

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On the roads of an old day, a giant* was once wandering along a highway when, out of nowhere, a stranger appeared, and shouted “You’ll have to stop here. Not a step further.”

“What?” said the giant. “Why would I stop here? Who are you to speak so boldly?”

“I am Death,” answered the stranger. “Everyone obeys my orders, one way or another, you know.”

The giant decided that he would try his luck though, and refused to obey Death. And so they wrestled. And after a long, violent exchange, the giant seemed to get the upper hand. And struck Death plainly on the back of his head, where he had no eyes.

And Death was struck down, and collapsed on a stone near the highway. And the giant carried on, and went on his way, where he was headed. And Death laid there, and enjoyed the day, while he was waiting to get up again.

“What will come of this?” Death said. “Well, I will have to get up, and stop enjoying this, or no one will die in the world. And then what would happen? It will become so filled that they won’t even be able to stand beside one another, and will have to stand on top of each other,” Death said.

After laying there for awhile, a young man came by, wandering down the highway. He seemed healthy, Death noticed. He was singing a song, and looking all around, at this and that and those.

And he saw the stranger, half-conscious, on the side of the highway. And so he approached, and asked plainly, “Well fellow, what’s the matter with you?”

And he helped the stranger to his feet, and gave him a drink from his flask, and waited for the stranger to come to his strength.

“Do you know,” asked the stranger, rising up again, “who I am, and whom you have helped to his feet again?”

“No idea,” answered the young man, “I do not know you.”

“I am Death,” the stranger said. “I spare no one, nor can an exception be made with you. But, so you may know that I am grateful, I will promise you that I will not take you without warning, instead I will send my messengers to you before I come.”

“Good,” said the young man. “It is to my benefit, I suppose, that I shall know when you are coming. And also that I will be safe from you until then.”

And then the young man went on his way, and he was cheerful and carefree, and lived always one day at a time. But his health did not last too long, and he became sick, and did not rest at night, and was in fever in the day.

“Well, I shall not die,” he said to himself, “for Death will first send his messengers, but I do wish that these days of sickness were over.”

And the young man regained his health, and he lived cheerfully and carefree once again. And then, one day, when he was walking along someone tapped on his shoulder.

And so he turned around, and death was standing right there looking back at him. And he said, “Follow me. The hour of your departure from this world has come.”

Confused, the man said, “What? Are you breaking your word? Did you not promise me that you would send your messengers to me before you yourself would come? I have not seen a one of them.”

“What?” said Death. “I have sent you many messengers, one after another, day after day. Did not fever come and visit you, and give you dreams? Did not the ache of the deep earth visit you in your bones? Did not cloudiness take your mind from you? Do your ears not buzz with my quiet music? Have the colors of the day not left you? And has not my brother, Sleep himself, reminded you of me every night? Didn’t you lie there, every night, as if you were dead?”

The man didn’t know how to answer, and so he followed Death. And did as he said.


*As an explanation here — the “giants” of Greek mythology — Gigantes in plural (Γίγαντες) and Gigas in singular (Γίγας) — and many other mythologies, weren’t considered to be bigger than people, but rather shorter. They were generally described of as being much stronger than people though.

They were considered to be direct offspring of Gaia (the earth), and to have been created from the first blood that flowed from the castration of Ouranos (the endless blue sky) by his son Cronos/Kronos (eternity). Aphrodite (beauty) was considered to be born from this castration as well, when Ouranos’ castrated anatomy fell into the ocean of the universe and mixed with sea-foam, resulting in Aphrodite’s birth. (You’ve probably seen the famous Botticelli painting of this birth.) as were the Furies (Erinyes), amongst others.

This castration was accomplished with the sickle (death, ends, harvests) that Gaia provided to her son Kronos to accomplish the task (while he was still inside her). As Ouranos couldn’t be killed by Kronos, castration was the path taken. Gaia provided the sickle, as a means of stopping the imprisonment of her monstrous children in Tartarus (non-existence) whenever they were born by Ouranos, who had no regard for them.

These children included the cyclopes, hundred-handers, the various Titans, Typhoon, and many others. After castrating his father and taking over, Kronos himself then did as his father, and sent many of these ‘monstrous children’ back to Tartarus.

Some of the early descriptions of gigantes in surviving work, such as that describing the war between the gigantes and the Olympian Gods (Gigantomachia), sound somewhat similar to those of the so-called Neanderthals that have been provided by modern research.

From the perspective of “mythology,” the gigantes (giants), after they were vanquished from the earth by the various Titans or Olympian Gods (depending on the account), ended up buried under the mountains and volcanos, and were said to be some of the actors behind earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Satellite volcano

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