Greek Monsters

Greek Monsters There are many creatures and monsters in Greek mythology that were slain by valiant heroes, such as Heracles, Jason, Odysseus and others. However, there were also some creatures that were not malevolent and instead helped the heroes in their quests.

Cerberus or Kerberos was a three – headed dog or hellhound that guarded the gates of Hades, the Underworld. It was the offspring of Echidna, a half – woman and half – serpent creature, and Typhon, a gigantic monster feared even by the Olympians. Its siblings were the Lernaean Hydra, Orthus and the Chimaera. The capturing of Cerberus was the twelfth and last labour of Heracles, assigned by King Eurystheus. Heracles went to the Underworld and asked God Hades to take Cerberus; he agreed as long as no weapons were used. Heracles managed to overpower Cerberus and brought it to Eurystheus, who jumped into a pithos out of his great fear and told Heracles he was released from his labours as long as he returned Cerberus back to Hades.

The Gorgons were female creatures, three sisters with hair made of living, venomous snakes, as well as the ability to turn to stone anyone who would look them in the face. The three sisters were Stheno, Euryale and Medusa. The latter was the only mortal of the three and was killed by mythical hero Perseus. King Polydectes asked Perseus to kill Medusa, hoping to get rid of him, as he pursued the king’s mother, Danae. Perseus, equipped with a mirror or a shield from Athena, managed to cut off Medusa’s head without turning to stone, simply by looking at her reflection in the shield. The head still retained the ability to turn people into stone; so, when Perseus returned to the court and was asked if he had the head of Medusa, Perseus said “here it is” and revealed it, turning the whole court to stone.

The Erinyes, or the Furies or Dirae as they are known in Roman mythology, were female chthonic goddesses of vengeance. According to Hesiod’s Theogony, they were created by the drops of blood when the Titan Cronus castrated his father Uranus. The number of the Erinyes is undetermined, but Virgil recognized three: Alecto (the unnameable), Megaera (the grudging) and Tisiphone (the vengeful destruction). They were depicted as creatures with a female body, entwined with serpents and their eyes dripping with blood. Other depictions show them with wings of a bat and the body of a dog.

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