More Mythological Monsters
Myths tell larger-than-life stories of heroes and explore primal fears. So it's not surprising that they're populated by monsters. This chapter has introduced a few of the better-known monsters, but as you read the myths, you're sure to encounter others. Here are some of the monsters you might meet:
Cyclopes: The Cyclopes were a race of one-eyed giants. In Chapter 4, you read about the three Cyclopes who were the sons of Gaia and Uranus. These Cyclopes were skilled craftsmen who designed the thunderbolt and gave it to Zeus as a weapon. In later myths, the Cyclopes are savage man-eaters. The most famous was Polyphemos, son of Poseidon, who threatened Odysseus on his long journey home (more about that in Chapter 19).
Erinyes: Also known by their Roman name, the Furies, the Erinyes were born from drops of blood when Cronus threw his father's severed genitals into the sea. The Erinyes had snakes for hair, their eyes dripped blood, and their bodies looked like winged dogs. Their name means “angry ones,” and it was their job to torment people who broke the laws of nature. In the Oresteia, the Erinyes pursue Orestes for murdering his mother, until Athena intervenes.
Gorgons: These three monstrous sisters had serpents for hair (like the Erinyes), claws, and long, sharp teeth. Some say they had wings and impenetrable scales covering their bodies. Looking at a Gorgon would turn any being to stone. Medusa was the most famous Gorgon.
Griffins: These monsters guarded treasure and were often employed by the gods and goddesses. A griffin had the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion. When these creatures were on guard, a treasure was almost always protected.
Harpies: Harpies were birds with women's faces. Fierce creatures with sharp claws, they were often sent by the deities to punish criminals. When anything was missing — including children — the Harpies were thought to be responsible.
Hydra of Lerna: The Hydra was a giant serpent with numerous heads and poisonous breath; different myths say that this monster had anywhere from five to a hundred heads. Whenever one head was cut off, two more grew in its place. The Hydra fought against Heracles, aided by a giant crab.
Stymphalian Birds: These birds had very long legs, steel-tipped feathers, and razor-sharp claws. They preyed on humans, shooting them with sharp feathers or attacking them with their beaks and claws.