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Meet the Monsters – Ogres

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Meet the Monsters is a web series providing background on the mythological creatures featured in MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES.

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Ogres

Ogres are featured in mythology and folklore throughout the world. They are large, strong, dimwitted and dangerous humanoids who eat humans. Giants, trolls, and ogres are sometimes represented as the other in fiction. For example, Tolkien refers to the ogre-like creatures in THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS as trolls.

The term ogre has several possible origins. In the Bible, Og is the giant Amorite king of Bashan. The Etruscans worshiped a cannibalistic god Orcus. Greek mythology includes the river god Oiagros, father of Orpheus. A female ogre is called an ogress. Or perhaps real-world Neanderthals, which coexisted with Cro-Magnons, were the original inspiration for ogres.

ogre01 Per the New World Encyclopedia, “Another explanation for the ogre myth is that the ogres represent the remains of the forefather-cult which was ubiquitous in Scandinavia until the introduction of Christianity in the tenth and eleventh centuries. In this cult, the forefathers were worshiped in sacred groves, by altars, or by grave mounds. They believed that after death a person’s spirit continued to live on, or near, the family farm. This particularly applied to the founding-father of the estate, over whose body a large burial mound was constructed.”

Ogres appear in the movies Shrek, in the tabletop games Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, and Warhammer, and in the books PUSS IN BOOTS, HOP O’ MY THUMB and, SLEEPING BEAUTY (original version) by Charles Perrault, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA by C.S. Lewis, XANTH by Piers Anthony, THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES by Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi, and MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES by Henry Herz.

ogre2Puss in Boots before the ogre. Note that one of the platters on the table serves human babies (Illustrated by Gustave Doré).

ogre3Hop-o’-My-Thumb steals the ogre’s seven-league boots. (Illustrated by Gustave Doré.)

ogre4Kwakiutl house pole representing the cannibal ogress Dzonoqwa

ogre5Oni (Japanese ogre)

ogre6The ogre from “Hop-o’-My-Thumb” at Efteling

ogre7The ogress Sanda Muhki represented at Mandalay Hill