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Gog and Magog are the respective names of a mysterious Biblical ruler, and his people, who feature in apocalyptic prophecy. They appear in the Book of Ezekiel and the Book of Revelation. They are also giants who appear in English folklore.

The biblical Gog and Magog:

Ezekiel begins:

Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. (Ezekiel 38:2-3 KJV)

The prophecy says that Gog will be defeated after he attacks Israel. Ezekiel 38 and 39 continues to speak of Gog, and that Gog together with Persians, Lydians, Ethiopians, and others, like Gomer[?] and the house of Togarmah[?], whose identities at this remove are even harder to identify. We are told that Gog dwelt north of Israel, but apart from this direction, there is little else to identify Gog in the passage. Gog and his allies are to be defeated in a mighty bloodbath; according to chapter 39, it will take seven months to bury all the dead.

Gog reappears in Revelation 20:7-8, which says:

And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

Gog's attack here is represented as an eschatological event that will occur after the Millennium, and that will be vanquished by divine intervention.

The identity of Gog remains mysterious. Many Bible scholars believe that Gyges (Greek Γυγες), king of Lydia, is meant; in Assyrian letters, Gyges appears as Gu-gu; in which case Magog is his territory in Anatolia. Josephus identifies Magog with Scythia, but this name was used generally in antiquity for any land north of the Black Sea.

Gog and Magog in England:

Given this somewhat frightening Biblical imagery, it is somewhat odd that images of Gog and Magog depicted as giants are carried in a traditional procession by the Lord Mayor of London, England. According to the Lord Mayor, the giants Gog and Magog are traditional guardians of the City of London. Images of Gog and Magog have been carried in the Lord Mayor's procession since the days of King Henry V. The Lord Mayor's procession takes place each year on the second Saturday in November.

According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, Gogmagog was a giant who was slain by the eponymous Cornish hero Corin or Corineus. The tale figures in the body of unlikely lore that has Britain settled by "Brutus" and other fleeing heroes from the Trojan War. Corineus is supposed to have slain the giant by throwing him into the sea near Plymouth. John Milton's History of Britain gives this version of the story:

The Island, not yet Britain, but Albion, was in a manner desert and inhospitable, kept only by a remnant of Giants, whose excessive Force and Tyrannie had consumed the rest. Them Brutus destroies, and to his people divides the land, which, with some reference to his own name, he thenceforth calls Britain. To Corineus, Cornwall, as now we call it, fell by lot; the rather by him lik't, for that the hugest Giants in Rocks and Caves were said to lurk still there; which kind of Monsters to deal with was his old exercise.

And heer, with leave bespok'n to recite a grand fable, though dignify'd by our best Poets: While Brutus, on a certain Festival day, solemnly kept on that shoar where he first landed (Totness[?]), was with the People in great jollity and mirth, a crew of these savages, breaking in upon them, began on the sudden another sort of Game than at such a meeting was expected. But at length by many hands overcome, Goemagog, the hugest, in hight twelve cubits, is reserved alive; that with him Corineus, who desired nothing more, might try his strength, whom in a Wrestle the Giant catching aloft, with a terrible hugg broke three of his Ribs: Nevertheless Corineus, enraged, heaving him up by main force, and on his shoulders bearing him to the next high rock, threw him hedlong all shatter'd into the sea, and left his name on the cliff, called ever since Langoemagog, which is to say, the Giant's Leap.

Michael Drayton's Polyolbion preserves the tale as well:

Amongst the ragged Cleeves those monstrous giants sought:
Who (of their dreadful kind) t'appal the Trojans brought
Great Gogmagog, an oake that by the roots could teare;
So mighty were (that time) the men who lived there:
But, for the use of armes he did not understand
(Except some rock or tree, that coming next to land,
He raised out of the earth to execute his rage),
He challenge makes for strength, and offereth there his gage,
Which Corin taketh up, to answer by and by,
Upon this sonne of earth his utmost power to try.

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