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Monsters in Greek Mythology

Updated March 4, 2021 | Infoplease Staff

Mythical Monsters

Ancient Greek mythology is full of fearsome and terrible monsters, which have inspired writers from Homer down to the modern day. According to most accounts, these monsters were the descendants of the horrid Typhon and Echidna, spawned beneath Mount Etna in Sicily. Here are just some of the many mythological creatures that haunted the imaginations of Ancient Greece. To learn more about the Greek monsters that fought with the mighty Heracles--the Lernaean Hydra,the Nemean Lion, and more--read our article on the Labors of Heracles.

Argus

Argusmay have had as many as one hundred eyes, which were located all over his body.Heraemployed him as a guard. He was killed byHermes. Afterward, Hera put Argus's eyes in the tail of the peacock, her favorite bird.

Cerberus

Cerberuswas a huge and powerful three-headed dog. He was owned byHades, god of the dead, who used the fearsome hound to guard the entrance to the underworld. In his final labor,Herculeswent to the underworld and kidnappedCerberus.

Cyclopes

Each of theCyclopeswas gigantic and had a single eye in the middle of its forehead. The Cyclopes made lightning and thunderbolts forZeusto use. The brutalPolyphemus, a Cyclops and a son of the sea godPoseidon, lived on an island, where he was blinded byOdysseusin the Odyssey.

Gorgons

TheGorgonswere horrifyingly ugly monsters who lived at the edge of the world. Their hair was made of serpents, and one look from a Gorgon's eyes would turn a man to stone. Athena aided the heroPerseusin killing the GorgonMedusaby beheading her while looking only at her reflection. From her severed neck sprang the winged horse Pegasus.

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The Hydra

Hydra

TheHydrawas a massive and poisonous serpent with nine heads. Every time one head was injured, another two grew in its place.Herculessought out the monster in its dark marsh and succeeded in destroying it.

Minotaur

The Minotaur was a man-eating monster with the head of a bull. KingMinoskept it hidden in a labyrinth (a maze) in Knossos, on the island of Crete, where he used it to frighten his enemies. He demanded a tithe of young men from Athens, who were fed to the minotaur. The Athenians were saved by the hero Theseus, who killed the Minotaur and escaped with the help of Minos's daughter Ariadne.

Scylla and Charybdis

The powerful sea monstersScyllaandCharybdislived together in a sea cave. Scylla had many fierce dog heads and ate sailors alive; Charybdis created whirlpools by sucking in and spitting out seawater. BothJasonandOdysseussafely traveled by these monsters.

Sirens

TheSirenswere giant, winged creatures with the heads of women (not to be confused with harpies, another monster with the appearance of a bird woman). They lived on rocks on the sea, where their beautiful singing lured sailors to shipwreck. Odysseus filled his sailors' ears with wax so that they might sail safely past the Sirens.

Sphinx

The Sphinx was a large creature with the body of a lion and the torso of a beautiful woman. The Sphinx terrorized the city of Thebes, posing riddles to travelers in and out of the city and eating those that failed. The Sphinx was defeated by the hero Oedipus, a feat which set him on his tragic course as king of Thebes.

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