The gigantomachia in GG from Rabelais

The Gutenberg Galaxy (148): “Albert Guerard’s comment on (…) Rabelais in The Life and Death of an Ideal1 is as follows”:

This triumphant Pantagruelism inspires the chapters, full of quaint erudition, practical knowledge and poetic enthusiasm, which, at the end of the third book, he [Rabelais] devotes to the praise of the blessed herb Pantagruelion. Literally, Pantagruelion is mere hemp; symbolically, it is human industry. Capping the wildest achievements of his own times with wilder boast and prophecy, Rabelais first shows man, by virtue of this Pantagruelion, exploring the remotest regions of his globe, “so that Taproban hath seen the heaths of Lapland, and both the Javas, the Riphaean Mountains.” Men “scoured the Atlantic Ocean, passed the tropics, pushed through the torrid zone, measured all the Zodiac, sported under the equinoctial, having both poles level with their horizon.” Then, “all marine and terrestrial gods were on a sudden all afraid.” What is to prevent Pantagruel and his children from discovering some still more potent herb, by means of which they shall scale the very heavens? Who knows but they may “contrive a way to pierce into the high aerian clouds, and shut and open as they please the sluices from whence proceed the floodgates of the rain (…) then, prosecuting their ethereal voyage, they may step into the lightning workhouse and shop … where, seizing on the magazine of heaven, they may discharge a bouncing peal or two of thundering ordnance for joy of their arrival at these new supernal places (…) And we the Gods shall then not be able to resist the impetuosity of their intrusion (…) whatever regions, domiciles or mansions of the spangled firmament they shall have a mind to see, to stay in, or to travel through for their recreation.”2

  1. 1956. Guerard’s subtitle: France in the classical age.
  2.  The Life and Death of an Ideal, p39.