Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Are Giants a Fiction? by H. P. Blavatsky 1888
Are Giants a Fiction? by H. P. Blavatsky 1888 (from The Secret Doctrine - THE SYNTHESIS OF SCIENCE, RELIGION, AND PHILOSOPHY)
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Here, again, we come into collision with Science. The latter denies, so far, that man has ever been much larger than the average of the tall and powerful men one meets with occasionally now. Dr. Henry Gregor denounces such traditions as resting upon ill-digested facts. Instances of mistaken judgments are brought forward. Thus, in 1613, in a locality called from time immemorial the “Field of Giants” in the Lower Dauphine (France, four miles from St. Romans) enormous bones were found deeply buried in the sandy soil. They were attributed to human remains, and even to Teutobochus, the Teuton chief slain by Marius. But Cuvier’s later research proved them to be the fossil remains of the Dinotherium giganteum of the family of tapirs, 18 feet long. Ancient buildings are pointed to as an evidence that our earliest ancestors were not much larger than we are, the entrance doors being of no larger size then than they are now. The tallest man of antiquity known to us was the Roman Emperor Maximus, we are told, whose height was only seven and a half feet. Nevertheless, in our modern day we see every year men taller than this. The Hungarian who exhibited himself in the London Pavilion was nearly 9 feet high. In America a giant was shown 9 1/2 feet tall; the Montenegrin Danilo was 8 feet 7 inches. In Russia and Germany one often sees men in the lower classes above 7 feet. And as the ape-theorists are told by Mr. Darwin that the species of animals which result from cross breeding “always betray a tendency to revert to the original type,” they ought to apply the same law to men. Had there been no giants as a rule in ancient days, there would be none now.
All this applies only to the historic period. And if the skeletons of the prehistoric ages have failed so far (which is positively denied) to prove undeniably in the opinion of science the claim here advanced, it is but a question of time. Moreover, as already stated, human stature is little changed since the last racial cycle. The Giants of old are all buried under the Oceans, and hundreds of thousands of years of constant friction by water would reduce to dust and pulverize a brazen, far more a human skeleton. But whence the testimony of well-known classical writers, of philosophers and men who, otherwise, never had the reputation for lying? Let us bear in mind, furthermore, that before the year 1847, when Boucher de Perthes forced it upon the attention of Science, almost nothing was known of fossil man, for archaeology complacently ignored his existence. Of Giants who were “in the earth in those days” of old, the Bible alone had spoken to the wise men of the West, the Zodiac being the solitary witness called upon to corroborate the statement in the persons of Atlas or Orion, whose mighty shoulders are said to support the world.
Nevertheless, even the “Giants” have not been left without their witnesses, and one may as well examine both sides of the question. The three Sciences — Geological, Sidereal and Scriptural (the latter in its Universal character) — may furnish us with the needed proofs. To begin with geology; it has already confessed that the older the excavated skeletons, the larger, taller and the more powerful their structure. This is already a certain proof in hand. “All those bones” writes Frederic de Rougemont — who, though believing too piously in Noah’s ark and the Bible, is none the less a Scientific witness — “all those skeletons found in the Departments of the Gard, in Austria, Liege, etc., etc. . . those skulls which remind all of the negro type. . . and which by reason of that type might be mistaken for animals, have all belonged to men of very high stature”. . . (“Histoire de la Terre,” p. 154) The same is repeated by Lartet, an authority, who attributes a tall stature to those who were submerged in the deluge (not necessarily “Noah’s”) and a smaller stature to the races which lived subsequently.
As for the evidence furnished by ancient writers, we need not stop at that of Tertullian, who assures us that in his day a number of giants were found at Carthage — for, before his testimony can be accepted, his own identity* and actual existence would have to be proven. But we may turn to the scientific journals of 1858, which spoke of a sarcophagus of giants found that year on the site of that same city. As to the ancient pagan writers — we have the evidence of Philostratus, who speaks of a giant skeleton twenty-two cubits long, as well as of another of twelve cubits, seen by himself at Sigeus. This skeleton may perhaps not have belonged, as believed by Protesilaus, to the giant killed by Apollo at the siege of Troy; nevertheless, it was that of a giant, as well as that other one discovered by Messecrates of Stire, at Lemnos — “horrible to behold,” according to Philostratus (Heroica, p. 35). Is it possible that prejudice would carry Science so far as to class all these men as either fools or liars?
Pliny speaks of a giant in whom he thought he recognised Orion, the son of Ephialtes (Nat. Hist., vol. VII., ch. xvi.). Plutarch declares that Sertorius saw the tomb of Antaeus, the giant; and Pausanias vouches for the actual existence of the tombs of Asterius and of Geryon, or Hillus, son of Hercules — all giants, Titans and mighty men. Finally the Abbe Pegues (cited in de Mirville’s Pneumatologie) affirms in his curious work on “The Volcanoes of Greece” that “in the neighbourhood of the volcanoes of the isle of Thera, giants with enormous skulls were found laid out under colossal stones, the erection of which must have necessitated everywhere the use of titanic powers, and which tradition associates in all countries with the ideas about giants, volcanoes and magic.” (Page 48.)
In the same work above cited of the Abbe Pegues, the author wonders why in Bible and tradition the Gibborim, (Giants, the mighty ones) the Rephaim, or the spectres (Phantoms), the Nephilim, or the fallen ones — (irruentes) — are shown “as if identical, though they are all men, since the Bible calls them the primitive and the mighty ones” — e.g., Nimrod. The “Doctrine” explains the secret. These names, which belong by right only to the four preceding races and the earliest beginning of the Fifth, allude very clearly to the first two Phantom (astral) races; to the fallen one — the Third; and to the race of the Atlantean Giants — the Fourth, after which “men began to decrease in stature.”
Bossuet (Elevations p. 56) sees the cause of subsequent universal idolatry in the “original sin.” “Ye shall be as gods,” says the serpent of Genesis to Eve, thus laying the first germ of the worship of false divinities. Hence, he thinks, came idolatry, or the cult and adoration of images, of anthropomorphized or human figures. But, if it is the latter that idolatry is made to rest upon, then the two Churches, the Greek and the Latin especially, are as idolatrous and pagan as any other religion. It is only in the Fourth Race that men, who had lost all right to be considered divine, resorted to body worship, in other words to phallicism. Till then, they had been truly gods, as pure and as divine as their progenitors, and the expression of the allegorical serpent does not, as sufficiently shown in the preceding pages, refer at all to the physiological fall of men, but to their acquiring the knowledge of good and evil, which knowledge comes to them prior to their fall. It must not be forgotten that it is only after his forced expulsion from Eden that “Adam knew Eve his wife” (Genesis iv.). It is not, however, by the dead-letter of the Hebrew Bible that we shall check the tenets of the Secret Doctrine; but point out, rather, the great similarities between the two in their esoteric meaning.
It is only after his defection from the Neo-Platonists, that Clement of Alexandria began to translate gigantes by serpentes, explaining that “Serpents and Giants signify Demons.” (Genesis, chapter v.)
We may be told that, before we draw parallels between our tenets and those of the Bible, we have to show better evidence of the existence of the giants of the Fourth Race than the reference to them found in Genesis. We answer, that the proofs we give are more satisfactory, at any rate they belong to a more literary and scientific evidence, than those of Noah’s Deluge will ever be. Even the historical works of China are full of such reminiscences about the Fourth Race. In Shoo-King (4th part, chap. XXVII., p. 291), anyone can read in the French translation, “When the Mao-tse” (“that antediluvian and perverted race,” explains the Annotator, “which had retired in the days of old to the rocky caves, and the descendants of whom are said to be still found in the neighbourhood of Canton”).
Footnote: * There are critics who, finding no evidence about the existence of Tertullian save in the writings of Eusebius “the veracious,” are inclined to doubt it.
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