.
Greek Mythology >> Bestiary

BESTIARY

The myths and legends of the ancient Greeks were filled with a wide variety of fabulous creatures, monsters, fantastic tribes and demons.

I. SUB-BESTIARIES

II. MONSTERS & CREATURES OF MYTH

III. LEGENDARY CREATURES & TRIBES


OVERVIEW OF THE BESTIARY

The fantastic creatures of Greek mythology and legend can be divided into eight broad categories :

1. MYTHICAL MONSTERS

Awful humanoid creatures. These included monsters such as the Gorgons and Echidna.

2. MYTHICAL HYBRIDS

Creatures which combine human and animal forms or various animals. These include creatures such as the Centaur (Horse-Man), Sphinx (Lion-Woman), Hippocamp (Fish-Horse), and Chimaera (Lion-Goat-Snake).

3. MYTHICAL ANIMALS

Normal animals with some fantastic attribute. Examples include the winged horse Pegasus, the giant Erymanthian Boar, the fire-breathing Bulls of Colchis, and the inescapable hunting-dog Laelaps.

4. DRAGONS

A breed of serpentine monsters, usually equipped with some magical power. They include creatures such as the Hydra, the Dragon of the Golden Fleece, Python, the Ethiopian Sea-Monster and the she-dragon Echidna.

5. GIANTS

Gigantic men, often with fantastic features or abilities. A few examples are the hundred-handed Hecatoncheires, the one-eyed Cyclopes, the water-walking hunter Orion, the wrestler Antaeus, and the monstrous Typhon.

6. GHOSTS & DEMONS

Creatures from the underworld which haunted the earth. They included the Empusae, Erinyes, Vampires and haunting ghosts of the dead.

7. LEGENDARY CREATURES

Fantastic animals which were believed to inhabit the remote corners of the earth. They included the Manticore, Unicorn (Greek Monoceratus), Catoblepas, and Griffin.

8. LEGENDARY TRIBES

Fabulous tribes of men which were believed to inhabit the lands of Terra Incognita, the "Unknown Earth." Examples of these are the Pygmies, the one-legged Sciapods, dog-headed Cynocephali, headless Blemmyae, and one-eyed Arimaspians.


MYTHOLOGY IN POST-CLASSICAL ART

Oedipus and the Sphinx by the French painter Gustave Moreau (1826-1898).

Oedipus & the Sphinx by Gustave Moreau