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.

  • 3
    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
    Jan 2, 2016 at 4:59

2 Answers 2


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.


Take a look at how they were birthed. They were the 100 children of Sky and Earth. These parents alone can give you insight as to what they can produce. Snakes also represent a close affinity with the Earth.

However, those were merely the newest Roman versions. In the earlier Greek classical sources, they were depicted as looking like men, wearing armour, and having incredible strength (that didn't stop increasing unless they were in contact with their mother the Earth [Gaia]).

I don't like the snake-legged depictions, it seems a bit inhumane. You, however, can pick what you so wish.

Have a blessed day/night.

  • 1
    Hi Amortal Demon. To make this a better answer, try adding some sources. It doesn't have to be full-on academic in references, but something other than your recollections will help the reader understand what was actually going on in the ancient world.
    – cmw
    Feb 18, 2021 at 3:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.