Greek Mythology >> Bestiary


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





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


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


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).


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.



Greek myth and legend is filled with a wide variety of monsters and creatures ranging from Dragons, Giants, Demons and Ghosts, to multiformed creatures such as the Sphinx, Minotaur, Centaurs, Manticores and Griffins. There were also many fabulous animals such as the Nemean Lion, golden-fleeced Ram and winged horse Pegasus, not to mention the creatures of legend such as the Phoenix, Unicorns (Monocerata). Even amongst the tribes of man, myth spoke of strange peoples inhabiting the far reaches of the earth such as the hopping Umbrella-Foots, the one-eyed Arimaspians, the Dog-Headed men, and the puny Pygmies.

AMPHISBAENAE see Beasts, African

AUTOMOTONS (Automotones) Creatures crafted out of metal and endowed with life by the smith-god Hephaestus.

BASILISCS see Beasts, African

BEASTS, AFRICAN (Theres Aithiopes) The semi-legendary land of Ethiopia (Sub-saharan Africa) was the home of many fabulous beasts.

BEASTS, INDIAN (Theres Indikoi) Legendary India was the home of many fabulous beasts.

BEASTS, PERSIAN & ARABIAN (Theres Persikoi) Various fabulous animals were believed to inhabit the lands of Arabia and Persia. See also Manticore and Phoenix.

BIRDS, OF ARES (Ornithes Areioi) Arrow-shooting birds which guarded the Amazonian shrine of the god Ares.

BIRDS, STYMPHALIAN (Ornithes Stymphalides) Man-eating which haunted lake Stymphalus in Arkadia. Heracles weas sent to drive them away as one of his Labours

BOAR, CALYDONIAN (Hus Kalydonios) A gigantic Aetolian boar slain by a band of heroes in the famed Calydonian Boar Hunt.

BOAR, CLAZOMENEAN (Hus Klazomenaios) A gigantic winged sow which ravaged the island of Clazomenae.

BOAR, CROMMYONIAN (Hus Krommyon) A gigantic sow which ravaged the region of Crommyon. It was slain by the hero Theseus.

BOAR, ERYMANTHIAN (Hus Erymanthios) A gigantic Arcadian boar which Heracles was sent to fetch as one of his twelve labours.

BULL, CRETAN (Tauros Kretaios) The bull which impregnated Pasiphae queen of Crete and which Heracles was sent to fetch as one of his labours.

BULL, OF EUROPA (Tauros Europaios) A bull which carried the Phoenician princess Europa across the sea to Crete. It was sometimes depicted as a fish-tailed animal.

BULL, SERPENT (Tauros Ophis) A black-skinned monster with the foreparts of a bull and the rearparts of a serpent. It was slain by the Sea-Titan Aegaeon during the Titan-War.

CATOBLEPAS see Beasts, African

CENTAURS (Kentauroi) A tribe of creatures who had the heads and torsos of men and the bodies of horses.


CERBERUS (Kerberos) The three-headed, giant hound that guarded the gates of Hades. It had lion's feet, a mane of serpents and the tail of a viper.

CERCOPES (Kerkopes) A pair of mischievous monkey-like dwarfs.

CHIMERA (Khimaira) A three headed monster, with the foreparts of a lion, the hind-parts of a goat and goat's-head rising from its back, and the tail of a headed-serpent.

CRAB, GIANT (Karkinos) A giant crab which fought alongside the Hydra against Heracles.

DEER, CERYNITIAN (Elaphos Kerynitis) A golden-horned deer which Heracles was sent to fetch as one of his twelve labours.

DEER, GOLDEN-HORNED (Elaphoi Khrysokeroi) Five immortal golden-horned deer sacred to the goddess Artemis. Four of them drew the goddess' chariot.

DEMONS (Kakodaimones) Some of the personified spirits and demons of the underworld were monstrous in appearance.

DOG, GOLDEN (Kuon Khryseos) A golden hound which Rhea sent to guard the infant Zeus and his nurse the goat Amaltheia.

DOG, LAELAPS (Kuon Lailaps) A fabulous dog destined always to catch its mark.

DOG, ORTHROS (Kuon Orthros) A two-headed, serpent-tailed dog which guarded the cattle of Geryon. It was slain by Heracles.

DRACAENAE (Drakainai) Female-monsters with the head and torsos of women and serpentine-tails in place of legs.

DRAGONS (Drakones) A race of giant, toothed serpentine monsters.

EAGLE, CAUCASIAN (Aetios Kaukasios) A gigantic Caucasian eagle which fed on the liver of the chained Titan Prometheus.

EAGLE, OF ZEUS (Aetos Dios) A gigantic golden eagle, the animal familiar of Zeus.

FISHES, OF APHRODITE (Ikhthyes) Two large fish which carried the goddess Aphrodite ashore following her sea-birth.

FOX, TEUMESSIAN (Alopex Teumesios) A gigantic fox which ravaged the kingdom of Thebes, preying upon the unfortunate children of the country.

Ethiopian Sea-Monster

GIANTS (Gigantes) A breed of oversized, mostly monstrous men.

GORGONS (Gorgones) Three monstrous Libyan sisters with broad faces, staring eyes, flaring nostrils, wiry beards, tusks and protruding tongues. Their heads were wreathed in snakes, a pair of golden wings sprung from their backs, and in place of hands they had brazen claws.

GRAEAE (Graiai) Three old hags born with grey hair, wrinkled skin and only one tooth and one eye between them.

GRIFFINS (Grypes) Winged beasts with the foreparts of eagles and the bodies of lions.

HARPIES (Harpyiai) Three winged monsters with the bodies of birds and the heads and torsos of women.

HIPPALEKTRYON (Hippalektryon) A creature with the fore-parts of the rooster and the body of a horse.

HIPPOCAMPI (Hippokampoi) Sea-creatures with the fore-parts of horses and the tails of serpentine fish.

HORSES, IMMORTAL (Hippoi Athanatoi) A breed of swift-footed, immortal horses.

HYDRA (Hydra) The nine-headed serpent of Lerna who sprung two heads for every one which was decapitated. It was slain by Heracles.

LEUCROCOTAE See Beasts, African

LION, NEMEAN (Leon Nemeios) A gigantic Argive lion whose skin was impervious to weapons. It was strangled by Heracles.

MANTICORE (Mantikhoras) A winged Persian monster with the head of a man, the body of a lion and a spiked missile-throwing tail.

MEN, EARTH-BORN (Anthropoi Autokhthonoi) Unusual men sometimes sprouted from the earth itself.

MEDUSA (Medousa) A mortal Gorgon slain by Perseus.

MEN, FANTASTIC Races of strangely-formed men were believed to inhabit the farthest reaches of the earth.


MINOTAUR (Minotauros) A Cretan monster with the head of a bull and the hairy body of a man.

NEADES Gigantic animals native to the island of Samos whose roar could split apart the ground.

PANES A tribe of nature-spirits which had the heads and torsos of men, the legs and tails of goats, goatish faces and goat-horns.

PEGASUS (Pegasos) A winged horse tamed by the hero Bellerophon and ridden into battle with the Chimera.

PHASMA Ghosts or phantoms which haunted the living. Some were corporeal in form, retaining their physical bodies, others were merely bodiless spirits.

PHOENIX (Phoinix) A fabulous golden-red bird whose feathers shone with the light of the sun.

PYGMIES See Men, fantastic

RAM, GOLDEN-FLEECED (Krios Khrysomallos) A flying, talking, golden-fleeced Ram who rescued the children Phrixus and Helle from a sacrifice to the gods.

RIVER GODS & DAEMONES (Theoi Daimones Potamoi) The river-gods appeared either as men from the chest upwards, set upon the serpentine tail of a fish and crowned with a single bull's horn, or as horned man-headed bulls.

SATYRS (Satyroi) A tribe of nature-spirits with the body of men, the tails of horses, pug noses and the ears of asses.

SCORPION (Skorpios) A giant scorpion sent by Gaea to slay the giant Orion.

SEA GODS & SEA DAEMONS (Daimones Einalioi, Theoi Einalioi) Many of sea-gods appeared as fish-tailed mermen, or were otherwise fabulous in form.

SEA MONSTERS (Ketea) A race of gigantic, serpentine sea-dragons.

SHEEP, GOLDEN (Melai Khryseoi) A flock of aggressive and highly poisonous, golden-fleeced sheep.

SIRENS (Seirenes) Three winged sea-monsters whose irresistable song lured sailors to their deaths. They had the heads (or heads and torsos) of women and the bodies of birds.

SPHINX A Theban monster with the head of a woman and the body of a lioness.

TURTLE, GIANT A giant turtle preyed on the men cast into the sea by the bandit Sciron.

UNICORNS Fabulous Indian horses with a single magical horn. The Greeks called them Monocerata (One-Horned) which the Romans translated as Unicorni.


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

Oedipus & the Sphinx by Gustave Moreau