Fantastic Creatures of Ancient Greek & Roman Legend
Area : Greek Mythology : Bestiary : Fantastic Creatures (Legendary)

Ancient Greek and Roman writers imagined a host of fantastic creatures inhabiting the unexplored corners of the world. The most famous collection of these is found in Pliny's Natural History, a book which inspired medieval bestiaries. The images below are from a couple of illuminated medieval manuscripts.

Amphisbaean, Fantastic creature
AMPHISBAENA
Basilisc, Fantastic creature
BASILISK
Ethiopian Bull, Fantastic creature
BULL AETHIOP
 
Catoblepas, Fantastic creature
CATOBLEPAS
Indian Cetus, Fantastic creature
CETUS INDIAN
Indian Dragon, Fantastic creature
DRACO INDIAN
 
Griffin, Fantastic creature
GRIFFIN
Harpy, Fantastic creature
HARPY
Leucrocota, Fantastic creature
LEUCROCOTTA
 
Manticore, Fantastic creature
MANTICORE
Monoceratus or Unicorn, Fantastic creature
MONOCERATUS
Onocentaur, Fantastic creature
ONOCENTAUR
Ethiopian Pegasus, Fantastic creature
PEGASUS AETHIOP
Phoenix, Fantastic creature
PHOENIX
Libyan Satyr, Fantastic creature
SATYR LIBYAN
Siren, Fantastic creature
SIREN
Triton, Fantastic creature
TRITON TANAGRAN
Yale or Eale, Fantastic creature
YALE

A LIST OF THE FANTASTIC CREATURES FROM ANCIENT GREEK LEGEND

The following creatures were all regarded as species of animal.

AEGIPAN, LIBYAN (Aigipan Libys) Goat-horned and legged men who lived in the forest of Mount Atlas.

AMPHISBAENA (Amphisbaina) A Saharan serpent with two heads, one at each end of its body.

ANT, INDIAN (Myrmex Indikos) Gigantic insects which guarded deposits of gold of the Indian deserts.

BASILISK (Basiliskos) A deadly African serpent which killed by touch and poisonous breath.

BULL, ETHIOPIAN (Tauros Aithiopikos) A gigantic, aggressive African bull whose red hides were impervious to steel.

CATOBLEPAS (Katobleps) A bull-like African beast whose downward looking head, when raised, could killa man by gaze or with its noxious breath.

CETUS, INDIAN (Ketos Indikos) Fabulous half-animal, half-fish sea-monsters which inhabited the Indian ocean. They included fish-tailed lions, bears, wolves, rams and spine-haired mermaids.

CROCOTTA (Krokottas) A hyena-like Aethiopian beast with a powerful jaw-plate in place of teeth which imitated the human voice to lure its prey.

DRAGON, ETHIOPIAN (Drakones Aithiopikoi) Gigantic African serpents.

DRAGON, INDIAN (Drakon Indikos) Giant Indian serpents which preyed on elephants.

DRAGON, PHRYGIAN (Drakon Phrygios) Giant Anatolian serpents which stood upright on their tails to snare birds from the air.

EALE (Eale) An antelope-like beast with tusks and moveable horns.

GRIFFIN (Gryps) An eagle-headed lion native to the mountains of Scythia in North-Eastern Europe.

LEUCROCOTTA (Leukrokottas) A hyena-like Aethiopian beast with a powerful jaw-plate in place of teeth which imitated the human voice to lure its prey.

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

MONOCERATUS (Hippos Monokeratos) Or unicorn, a magical single-horned horse native to India.

NEADES A giant beast native to the island of Samos whose roar could split open the ground.

ONOCENTAUR (Onokentauros) An African animal which was a cross between a man and an ass.

PEGASUS, ETHIOPIAN (Pegasos Aithiopikos) A winged Ethiopian horse equipped with horns.

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

SATYR, ETHIOPIAN (Satyros Aithiopikos) A phantom satyr which plagued an African town.

SATYR, ISLAND (Satyroi Nesioi) Ape-like satyrs native to islands off the North African coast.

SATYR, LEMNIAN (Satyros Lemnios) A satyr which consorted with a woman of the island of Lemnos.

SATYR, LIBYAN (Satyroi Libyes) Monkey-like satyrs which lived in the forest of Mount Atlas in North-West Africa.

SCOLOPENDRA (Skolopendra) A gargantuan sea-monster with hair extending from its nostrils, a flat crayfish-like tail and rows of webbed feet lining each of its flanks.

SERPENT, WINGED (Ophis Pteretos) A feathery-winged serpent which guarded the rich myrrh fields of Arabia.

SPHINX, ETHIOPIAN (Sphinx Aithiopikos) Women-headed African lions.

TRITON TANAGRAN (Triton) A monstrous sea daemon with the upper body of a man and the tail of a fish. It was a fearsome, scaly monster with sharp carnivorous teeth.

UNICORN (Monokeratos) A white Indian horse equipped with a single, magical horn. The Greek name for the creature was Monoceratus ("One-Horn").

WORM, INDOS Gigantic white worms which inhabited the Indos river.

YALE (Eale) An antelope-like beast with tusks and moveable horns.


CREATURE FORMS

NAME FORM
Aegipan Goat-Man
Amphisbaena Serpent
Basilisk Serpent
Bull Aethiop Bull
Catoplebas Bull
Cetus Indian Fish-Animal
Griffin Eagle-Lion
Harpy Bird-Woman
Leucrocotta Hyena
Manticore Tiger-Man
Monoceratus Horse
Onocentaur Donkey-Man
Ophis Pteretus Serpent
Pegasus
Aethiop
Horse
Phoenix Bird
Satyr Libyan Ape-Man
Scolopendra Fish
Siren Bird-Woman
Triton Fish-Man
Yale Antelope

EXTERNAL LINKS

The Medieval Bestiary by David Badke