Pygmies, by Nathaniel Hawthorne | Summary of The Pygmies
In this story, Hawthorne brings in 6-8 inch high pygmies as a foil to the cyclops-giant Antaeus.
Antaeus is the son of Mother Earth and a hateful creature to all but his friends, the pygmies, whose chief enemy is the crane. The pygmies see another giant approaching who though smaller than Antaeus looks fierce. They try to warn Antaeus, but he wants to nap. To motivate the giant, the pygmies sting his pride, so he stands up, holding a pinetree as a club to face the newcomer. He roars a request for the stranger to identify himself. The stranger says he is Hercules, en route to the apples of the Hesperides. Antaeus blocks his way and tells him to go back. Hercules responds to the challenge by asking how Antaeus will keep from his chosen path. The giant lifts his tree and tells Hercules he is too puny, so it would be shameful to strike. Instead the giant will only make a slave of Hercules. Hercules tells him to come get his club. Antaeus swings at Hercules, and Hercules responds in kind, not ill-matched at all.
Hercules' club shatters the pine tree, which sends slivers into the poor pygmies who have already lost their city due to the earthquakes the giants' battle has sent through it. Because of the broken tree, the pair switch method of fighting to wrestling. Here Antaeus has an advantage, since he gains strength from contact with his mother. Hercules deduces this and so grab the giant around his middle and holds him aloft until all his breath was gone. Then Hercules safely tosses him away.
Hercules then lies down for a nap. While he rests the pygmies decide to avenge the loss of Antaeus. They set fire to Hercules' hair, which he notices and wakes up. Then myriad pygmy bowmen shoot their arrows at him. With difficulty, Hercules locates the disturbance and listens to the pygmy complaints. And laughs. He promises not to harm the pygmies. Afterward, he either took the whole people with him to Greece or left them in place where they could boast that they had scared Hercules away.