| Share
 
Click here for Guide

Menacing Monster Guide

by David Johnson

Monster Mania!

Cyclopes and Other Classical Culprits

The ancient Greeks loved the monsters, spirits, and demons that populated their literature.

Among the most frightful were the Cyclopes, whom Homer described as barbarous, violent, and strong. Odysseus met the Cyclops Polyphemus during his wanderings.

The three Gorgons were sisters—Medusa, Stheno, and Euryale—whose hair was a mass of writhing snakes and whose faces were so repulsive all who looked at them turned to stone.

The Sirens were three nymphs, usually with the head of a woman and the body of a bird, whose heavenly singing lured passing ships to their island where they crashed on the dangerous rocks.


Demons

From the Greek daimon, or spirit, demons are powerful supernatural beings without the dignity of gods. Ancient demons could be good or bad.

The classical Greek demon, Pan, was a nature spirit. Other demons protected homes, fields, or travelers. Malevolent demons brought on disease or insanity. Hebrew and Christian culture considered all demons evil. In 1589, a leading expert named Brinsfield listed major demons and their specialties. These included: Lucifer, pride; Satan, anger; Beelzebub, gluttony; and Belphegor, sloth.


Dragons

Dragon

Immense fire-breathing lizards, known as dragons, are common in ancient mythology. The have gained more recent celebrity by appearing in many fantasy and horror movies and books.

In Persia, and in the West, dragons are usually evil. In medieval legend, slaying a dragon was the highest heroic achievement, such as in the story of St. George. In the Bible, the red dragon of the Apocalypse is associated with Satan, an enduring theme in Christian literature and art. In China, however, dragons bring good will. Asian dragons are more like snakes and fly by magic, not with wings.

While it is generally believed that dragons never existed, some scholars believe a species of Indonesian lizard, the dangerous Komodo Dragon, which can be ten feet long and weigh over 300 pounds, could have been the ancient origin of dragon stories.



Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

Did you know?
George Eastman invented photograph roll film and the camera to use it.

24 X 7

Private Tutor

Click Here for Details
24 x 7 Tutor Availability
Unlimited Online Tutoring
1-on-1 Tutoring