Titans' Uranus and Gaea's Children
When things ended for the Titans (the first gods, or "prototype" gods) in the Titanomachy (The war between Titans and Olympians), the earth-mother, Gaea decided to call in for reinforcements, to give it one last shot at defeating the Olympians.
Created from the blood of Ouranos when he got castrated by Cronus, king of the Titans, the GIGANTES (or Giants) were a tribe of one hundred big-boned, uglier-than-sin, monster-sized beings who were born out of Gaea, the Earth Mother Titan. In some accounts, it was said that their father was actually Tartarus, the hellish pit below the underworld.
Either way, the Gigantes were some of the most evil-tempered, vicious dudes to walk the planet. And Gaea decided to sic them on the Olympians in a last-ditch effort to win the day for the defeated Titans. This final battle was called the GIGANTOMACHY (Battle of the Giants).
It's hard to get a feel for the exact look of the Gigantes, as different tales show them in different ways. They were sometimes shown to look like mega-sized hoplite (Greek-style) warriors dressed in armor and wielding spears.
Other times, they were shown as gargantuan hairy primitives wearing panther skins, armed with rocks and flaming torches (think three-story-tall cavemen, and you have the idea). If you look at ancient Greek sculptures and Roman mosaics, they were popularly shown with the tails of serpents/snakes in place of their legs.
Imagine big, python-esque legs )complete with scales!), slithering them around to wherever they were planning on causing chaos for the Olympians! No matter how you slice it, the Gigantes were the ultimate battle-tanks; huge, ugly, hairy and packing a serious wallop to anything they slugged upside the head or busted face-first into.
At Gaea's command, the Gigantes made war on the gods as only giants could; lobbing mountains and huge trees that had been ripped out of the ground at any god they could find. To even things up, there was supposedly a giant that equaled out to each of the gods they fought.
For instance, some of the most famous of the combatants were Enceladus, who got trounced and was buried beneath the island of Sicily by Athena, Polybotes, the sea-giant, who was crushed utterly by Poseidon, and Porphyrion, the king of the Gigantes, who was slapped around mercilessly by Zeus, with an assist from his son Hercules.
Zeus had extra rage to let off of on Porphyrion as he had attempted to take advantage of Hera, kidnap her and make her his queen. Zeus went ballistic and put in a little extra oomph to bring down the slobbering hulk that was Porphyrion for that deed (followed by a father-son fist-bump after the overwhelming victory!).
After a long and grueling battle, the Olympians stood victorious over the vanquished and totally curb-stomped Gigantes, who had been buried under the mountains of Italy, crushed by huge stones the Olympians had hurled on top of them. These "mountains" were actually volcanoes, which the Greek settlers in Italy knew well and watched as they erupted, sometimes violently.
Being stuck in underground prisons like they were, it makes sense that the lava and eruptions would be seen as the ticked-off-yet-trapped Gigantes raging beneath the ground! At least that was the story the Greeks stuck to!
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