English 9
Greek Monsters
All through written and oral history there have been monsters that torture and kill innocent people. Greek has had monsters all throughout their history. They plagued cities, killed countless, and some were bested by the best of the best. I am here to tell you about some of Greece’s most famous monsters and what they did.
In Greek mythology, centaurs are creatures that had the torso and head of a man but their body is that of a horse. They descended from a Thesallian mortal named Ixion, who had tried to seduce Hera but was unsuccessful. Zeus was angered and tricked Ixion with a shape of Hera formed from a cloud. The cloud Hera had a child named Centaurus who then mated with a mare and produced the race of centaurs. The centaurs made a name for themselves early on in their lifetime because of their wicked ways and all their evil deeds. At a wedding they tried to steal the bride and several brides’ maids who they deemed pretty, they try and steal wine from the hero in the Labors of Herakles, and the Lapiths fought a battle against them and won. Always starting trouble, they were very quickly despised by all and were welcomed nowhere. They are generally a very vicious and selfish creature that will try to take what they want. There is one exception to this stereotype. A centaur named Chiron was a very kind and wise centaur. He was the tutor of Achilles and the hunter Actaeon. The constellation Sagittarius is, as the Babylonians called it, a centaur in the sky. Centaurs have been use throughout history and we will always remember their name.
Another monster that was famous in Greek mythology for its repulsive ways is the Harpy. They are a creature with a women’s head and breasts but the body of a vulture and are more commonly known as Celaeno, Nicotheon, and Thyella. At first they were not known for their disgusting ways but were known as wind gods who carried away anyone the gods wanted gone, where as today they are known for their repulsive habits. Usually traveling in groups of three, they would swoop out of the sky and snatch all the food off a table in their talons or their abnormally long human-like arms. If there happened to be people at the table, the Harpies would regurgitate the food and vomit or excrete it onto the shocked guests. This is how the Harpies are remembered in history and the term “harpy” is still used today but the true meaning of the term is lost in history. The harpy was never killed in any written sources that I could find.
The Cyclopes were a race of tall creatures with one eye and matted hair. They were about the size of a two story house
Worth while to avoid, the Cyclops is an evil creature whos only friends are his sheep.
and were incredibly stupid. They had bad tempers, were very violent, and smelled horrid, usually worth a long way to avoid. Cyclopes started out as blacksmiths for Zeus but eventually forgot how to do their job and forgot what work was. After this they became shepherds. They were shepherds for almost two hundred years before it occurred to them to go buy some sheep. They moved to an island in the middle of the Aegean Sea and lived in caves, never talking to anyone, not even each other. The most famous Cyclops was Polyphemus who was the son of Poseidon but hated the water. He lived in a cave with all of his sheep and was very close with all of them. He even shed real tears when he had to slaughter one for his delicious sheep stew. The Cyclopes were not all bad but you never know what to think when around one.
The Hydra is a beast capable of regrowing it heads when cut off making it almost invincible. Almost.
A famous beast that Hercules destroyed was Hydra. Hydra has nine heads and if one of the heads happened to be cut off, two more would grow to replace the first. This made it extremely difficult to kill because every time you would cut one head, it would create an extra head for you to kill. Each head was snake-like and so was the neck. All necks attached to a humongous body that was like that of a beast with long legs and claws. Each head had venom that it would produce when it bites its prey. Hercules thought of an ingenious plan to kill the Hydra. Every time he would cut a head off it would grow two more so why not cauterize the head directly after you cut it off? He took a torch and when he cut the head off he would burn the wound. This stopped the Hydra from re-creating its heads, and after he did this to all the heads, the Hydra died.
Last but not least is the monster named Cerberus. The offspring of Typhon the king of the fierce storm winds and Echidna the half serpent goddess, he was the guardian of the Underworld and greeted all souls who came, either in a nice manner or growling and snarling. This is why the souls were given honey cakes to feed to the dog. The traditional Cerberus created by Hesiod had fifty heads and was a fierce animal but when the Romans came along their poets changed it to a three headed dog-beast. Cerberus had a taste for human flesh so he was often seen as the figure of earth as Servius wrote “Cerberus is the earth; for it devours all bodies”. Cerberus was captured by Hercules as one of the twelve labors. Some interpreted this as another version of Jesus defeating death and the Devil.
Monsters were a very major part in Greek history and how they lived. They tortured and killed many, but they occasionally helped, creating something or someone who was extremely better than the rest. Monsters formed Greece’s history and they are still in stories around the world. Without these mythical creatures, there would be less children’s stories, movies would not have these creatures, and life would just be boring. These made up creatures made life what it is today.
I forgot to get the books I used from your classroom so I didn’t cite those, sorry.
"Giants." World Folklore and Folklife. Web. 18 Dec. 2011.
"Minotaur." World Folklore and Folklife. 2009. Web. 18 Dec. 2011.
South, Malcolm. "Harpies." World Folklore and Folklife. 2009. Web. 18 Dec. 2011.