Lamia of Corinth
THE LAMIA KORINTHIA was a ghostly daimon which seduced the youth Menippos in the guise of a beautiful woman to feed upon his flesh and blood. She was expelled by the pagan prophet Apollonios of Tyana who revealed her false illusions.
The story of the Korinthian Lamia is set in the city of Korinthos (Corinth) in the C1st A.D. The main figure in the story, Apollonios of Tyana, was a respected pagan prophet.
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 4. 25 ff (trans. Conybeare) (Greek biography C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
"There was in Korinthos (Corinth) at that time a man named Demetrios (Demetrius), who studied philosophy . . . [and who] converted to the side of Apollonios [of Tyana] the more esteemed of his own pupils. Among the latter was Menippos (Menippus) a Lykian of twenty-five years of age, well endowed with good judgment, and of a physique so beautifully proportioned that in mien he resembled a fine and gentlemanly athlete. Now this Menippos was supposed by most people to be loved by a foreign woman, who was good-looking and extremely dainty, and said that she was rich; although she was really, as it turned out, not one of these things, but was only so in semblance. For as he was walking all alone along the road towards Kenkhreai (Cenchraea), he met with a Phasma [a ghost, phantom or apparaition], and it was a woman who clasped his hand and declared that she had been long in love with him, and that she was a Phoenician woman and lived in a suburb of Korinthos, and she mentioned the name of the particular suburb, and said : ‘When you reach the place this evening, you will hear my voice as I sing to you, and you shall have wine such as you never before drank, and there will be no rival to disturb you; and we two beautiful beings will live together.’ The youth consented to this , for although he was in general a strenuous philosopher, he was nevertheless susceptible to the tender passion; and he visited her in the evening, and for the future constantly sought her company by way of relaxation, for he did not yet realize that she was a mere Phasma (Apparition).
Then Apollonios looked over Menippos as a sculptor might do, and he sketched an outline of the youth and examined him, and having observed his foibles, he said : ‘You are a fine youth and are hunted by fine women, but in this case you are cherishing a serpent (ophis), and a serpent cherishes you.’ And when Menippos expressed his surprise, he added : ‘For this lady is of a kind you cannot marry. Why should you? Do you think that she loves you?’ ‘Indeed I do,’ said the youth, ‘since she behaves to me as if she loves me.’ ‘And would you then marry her?’ said Apollonios. ‘Why, yes, for it would be delightful to marry a woman who loves you.’ Thereupon Apollonios asked when the wedding was to be. ‘Perhaps tomorrow,’ said the other, ‘for it brooks no delay.’ Apollonios therefore waited for the occasion of the wedding breakfast, and then, presenting himself before the guests who had just arrived, he said : ‘Where is the dainty lady at whose instance ye are come?’ ‘Here she is,’ replied Menippos, and at the same moment he rose slightly from his seat, blushing. ‘And to which of you belong the silver and gold and all the rest of the decorations of the banqueting hall?’ ‘To the lady,’ replied the youth, ‘for this is all I have of my own,’ pointing to the philosopher's cloak which he wore.
And Apollonios said : ‘Have you heard of the gardens of Tantalos, how they exist and yet do not exist?’ ‘yes,’ they answered, ‘in the poems of Homer, for we certainly never went down to Haides.’ ‘As such,’ replied Apollonios, ‘you must regard this world of ours, for it is not reality but the semblance of reality. And that you may realize the truth of what I say, this fine bride is one of the Lamiai (Lamiae, Vampires), that is to say of those beings whom the many regard as Lamiai and Mormolykiai (Mormolyciae). These beings fall in love, and they are devoted to the delights of Aphrodite, but especially to the flesh of human beings, and they decoy with such delights those whom they mean to devour in their feasts.’ And the lady said : ‘Cease your ill-omened talk and begone’; and she pretended to be disgusted at what she heard, and in fact she was inclined to rail at philosophers and say that they always talked nonsense. When, however, the goblets of gold and the show of silver were proved as light as air and all fluttered away out of their sight, while the wine-bearers and the cooks and all the retinue of servants vanished before the rebukes of Apollonios, the Phasma pretended to weep, and prayed him not to torture her nor to compel her to confess what she really was. But Apollonios insisted and would not let her off, and then she admitted that she was a Empousa (Empusa, Vampire), and was fattening up Menippos with pleasures before devouring his body, for it was her habit to feed upon young and beautiful bodies, because their blood is pure and strong. I have related at length, because it was necessary to do so, this the best-known story of Apollonios; for many people are aware of it and know that he incident occurred in the centre of Hellas; but they have only heard in a general and vague manner that eh once caught and overcame a Lamia in Korinthos, but hey have never learned what she was about, nor that he did it to save Menippos, but I owe my own account to Damis [the companion of Apollonios] and to the work which he wrote."
Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 8. 7 :
"Who would offer his prayers to Herakles, if he were a Wizard? . . . I [Apollonios of Tyana] offered my prayer to him once on a time in the Peloponnesos, for there was a Phasma Lamia (Apparition of a Lamia) there too; and it infested the neighbourhood of Korinthos (Corinth) and devoured good-looking young men. And Herakles lent me his aid in my contest with her, without asking of me any wonderful gifts,--nothing more than honey-cake and frankincense, and the chance to do a salutary turn to mankind."
Eusebius, Treatise Against Hierocles 25 (trans. Jones) (Greek rhetorician C4th A.D.) :
"Apollonios as they say, drives out one Daimon (Demon) with the help of another. The first of the Daimones expelled from an incorrigible youth, while the second disguises itself by assuming the form of a woman: and the latter our clever author calls by no other names than those of Empousa (Empusa) and Lamia."
Eusebius, Treatise of Eusebius Against Hierocles 31 :
"If we admit the author [Philostratus] to tell the truth in his stories of miracles, he yet clearly shows that they were severally performed by Apollonios with the co-operation of a Daimon (Demon) . . . The licentious youth was clearly the victim of an indwelling Daimon; and both it and the Empousa (Empusa) and the Lamia which is said to have played off its mad pranks on Menippos, were probably driven out by him with the help of a more important Daimon . . . You must then, as I said, regard the whole series of miracles wrought by him, as having been accomplished through a ministry of Daimones."
- Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana - Greek Biography C2nd A.D.
- Eusebius, Treatise of Eusebius Against Hierocles - Greek Rhetoric C4th A.D.
A complete bibliography of the translations quoted on this page.