Sure, you’ve heard of all the great monsters, heroes and gods/goddesses of Greek mythology, but here’s a rundown of some female creatures and bad-ass bad ones your Greek teacher might not have gone over:
Centaurs, those lusty half-men, half-horse creatures seen carrying off nymphs on their backs, also had female versions. They were called Kentaurides. They like their male counterparts had conflicting natures: the wild and crazy side contended with the wise and knowledgeable one. They were consulted by Amazons and other heroes about the fine arts of warfare. They would be employed as life coaches in the modern world. One of the most famous female Kentaurides was Hylonome. She was present at the battle against the Lapiths, where she lost her husband, the centaur Cyllarus, whom she loved very much. Heartbroken, she then took her own life to join him.
“Min arpazis to fagito!” “Don’t snatch the food!” Greek mothers would always warn. But the verb “harpazein” “to snatch” is the root for the “harpies” that snatched food off the table of their human victims. In other stories, they would defecate on the food making it impossible for consumption. Creatures of torment, harpies bird-like creatures with female famous and sharp talons would descend on their victims usually as vehicles of vengeance or retribution. They would scream and screech day and night around their victim’s head so he/she could never eat or rest. Basically, those b****es would drive you crazy. That was the fate of Orestes when he killed his mother. Sometimes named Eryines, the only possible thing to drive these suckers away might be an Ompah band as the sound made by a brass instrument was the only deterrent to their encircling madness.
Arae would do well in a horror flick. So just as the crazy chain-saw killer goes to slaughter the victim, “I curse you to having everlasting acne that boils up and bleeds all over your body.” That’s when an Arae springs up from the underworld and WHAM! the killer gets bloody acne all over his body. Arae, then, were female spirits of curses, particularly of the curses placed by the dead upon those guilty of their death; they were associated with the underworld.
GREEK FEMALE VAMPIRES
Vampires did not originate in the Transylvania Wood. The Greeks had their own version of blood-sucking female demons. These vamps are a perversion of the good wife/good mother archetype in that they do the opposite of what a good woman should: they devour children and drink their blood. They were especially attracted to young men because they made a better morsel. In many versions of their creation, they appear beautiful and go out of their way to seduce gullible men. Sometimes they would entice them to a hasty marriage and then on the wedding night show their true form a snake-like creature that devours them whole. If one is not too careful, you might find these type of creatures in the modern world; now they are named “gold diggers” or “green-carders.” The myth warns against the wiles of a sexually seductive woman who traps a man vie ulterior motives and then slowly leads to his death. There was more than one famous example, but certainly the one that has captured the artistic imagination has been Lamia with poetry and art galore to accompany her legend. But there are others such as the Corinthian Lamia, a vampiric demo n who seduced the handsome youth Menippos in the guise of a beautiful woman to consume his flesh and blood. And Empousa, seductive female vampire demons with fiery hair, a leg of bronze and a donkey’s foot. They are especially good at ensnaring men with their beauty before devouring them. Another, Mormo, actually went after children. Forget the Baboula! Tell your naughty children about Mormo and they will go to bed in a jiffy.
Keres, spirit of violent or cruel death, basically they were “death spirits.” Sometimes referred to as “The Dooms,” they appeared to soldiers on the battlefield. The Ancient Greeks believed the Keres were the goddesses personified violent deaths and who thrilled to the bloody slaughter of the battlefield. They acted as agents of the Fates, sort of female bounty hunters for any mortal who thought he could escape death. The Keres were daughters of Erebus, the god of drakness, and Nyx, the goddess of night. In some version Keres were described as daughters of Nyx with no father. The Keres were described as formidable, dark, and hateful, because they carry off men to the joyless house of Hades. They also acted as agents of Moros (Doom) the spirit who drove a man towards his inevitable destruction. They were described as dark beings with gnashing teeth and claws and with a thirst for human blood. They would hover over the battlefield and search for dying and wounded men. One of the most famous Keres was Achlys famously engraved on the shield of Heracles.
If you see any of these on the street, call 1-800-GET A HERO.