Mythological creatures are more than just stories. They give us insight into the fears our ancestors had about the world of their time.
Monsters vary from culture to culture, and each tells its story in its own way. These legendary creatures are mostly manifestations of our greatest fears.
Despite the evolution of humans since the creation of these myths, our superstitions have not changed and we are still fond of stories of heroes defeating frightening predators. We are going to present you a list of 10 mythological creatures and their horrible legends. Some you probably know, and other mythical creatures you may never have imagined.
A) Description of the Hydra
The Hydra was a being with many heads, every drop of blood that flowed through its body was gorged with a huge amount of poison. Its lair gave off deadly air of such power that a single breath filled the lungs with acid causing death.
If by some miracle a person made it through the lair, he or she was confronted with a dragon-like creature with nine heads.
Even if a hero managed to remove one head of this legendary creature, two more would grow in its place. Only fire would prevent the regrowth, leaving its final head completely immortal.
Its heads looked like snakes, according to some early Roman writers the creature was once a one-headed snake whose body would not grow back, allowing the evolution to the Hydra of Lerna that the story of Heracles has passed down to us.
B) The fight against the Lernaean Hydra
The second of the twelve works of Heracles was to strike down the Hydra of Lerna. His nephew, Iolaus, helped him to prevent the hydra’s heads from growing back. When only the immortal head of the hydra remained, he used a magic sword given to him by the goddess Athena to pull it off. However, the head was still screaming and refusing to die, so Heracles decided to bury it under a gigantic rock, leaving it trapped but still alive for eternity and its immortality turned into a poisoned gift.
A) The legend of the Minotaur
The legend of the Minotaur begins with the sacrifice of 14 children from Athens in Ancient Greece. They are sent to a labyrinth in Crete to wander for many days through the darkness. Each step brings them closer to the Minotaur.
According to the myth, the people of Athens randomly select the individuals who will be sacrificed. The King of Crete had ordered the sacrifice of Athenians to avenge the death of his son by these people, and it was these poor boys and girls who paid the highest price.
Even if they were careful, children were always found by the Minotaur in this ancient story. They would get a brief flash of his monstrous face in the darkness. But before they could even scream, his powerful arms would grab them, tear them apart and devour their raw bodies. This story is now mythical.
B) The origins of the Minotaur
Greek legend tells that the Minotaur was the blasphemous offspring of the Queen of Crete and a bull. The authentic name of the Minotaur was Asterion, however he never had a normal life because King Minos of Crete was indignant about what his wife had done. The king was worried about the violent rage that inhabited the beast, for this reason the Minotaur was locked up in the labyrinth living only on human sacrifices.
This is not just a legend. According to Plutarch, this story, like so many other legends of mythological creatures, has origins in real history.
There is also the myth of Theseus who managed to defeat the Minotaur. However, within the real story of the Minotaur, no hero had saved the children of the Taurus general.
3) Lion of Nemea
The Nemean lion was a legendary gigantic lion in Greek mythology, believed to be one of the descendants of Echidna and Typhon, although some accounts state that he was a child of Zeus and Selene and fell from the moon. Another account presents this feline with its own constellation as the child of Chimera. The lion of Nemea was endowed with a skin impervious to mortal weapons, and its claws were significantly more effective than all existing mortal swords.
The first of the twelve labors of Hercules was to put an end to the life of this terrible lion that was terrorizing the city of Nemea, being a city within the Peloponnese region. Once Heracles was in front of the lion, he shot arrows at it and realized that its skin was impenetrable. In order to end the lion’s life, he strangled it with his bare hands; other accounts suggest that he shot the lion in the mouth in order to put it down.
The Chimera is described in Homer’s Iliad, around 1590-1610. From one angle, it could be mistaken for a lion. However, if you look closely, you can see a goat’s head sticking out of its body like a toxic growth. Its tail, glowing green in the light, was covered in scales with bright yellow eyes and a hissing tongue with venom dripping from its mouth like a mischievous reptile.
The Chimera is actually a mad fusion of several beasts within one body.
This creature was as terrifying as it was powerful, it could reduce an individual to nothing in a snap of its fingers.
According to Greek myths, the Chimera was the descendant of a repulsive serpent named Typhon and his half-human bride.
However, the original story may have come from the Hittites. They told stories about a chimera-like creature long before the Greeks.
The most famous story of the Chimera is that of Bellerophon, who fought against it on the back of the winged horse Pegasus. This story tells that Bellerophon would have achieved the feat of penetrating a spear into the throat of the beast, by this fact the fire inside the creature would have melted the spear choking it to death.
5) Ladon (fantastic creature)
Ladon is also known as the Hesperian dragon, it was a dragon with a hundred heads that guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides.
The eleventh work of Heracles determined by King Eurystheus was to steal the golden apples of Hesperides.
After many searches in Egypt, Libya and Asia, Heracles found the garden, decimated Ladon and stole the golden apples.
A) The Origins of the Wendigo
This is the mythological creature known as the Wendigo.
The story begins in 1661, a group of Jesuit missionaries went to the Algonquin country but some of them caught a strange disease.
Some Jesuits came to help their brothers who had caught this disease, but there were many accounts of how bad things went, but the worst was yet to come, here is the account described:
“These men were taken with a disease that made them hungry for human flesh, whether women, children, men, they devoured them voraciously, never satisfying their monstrous appetite.”
The missionaries who came to help their brothers had become cannibals. This was a horror story for the brothers in Christ, unfortunately the Algonquin tribe knew this story well.
The stories say that the Wendigos were hungry man-eating beasts that used to roam the land surrounding the Great Lakes.
B) The physical properties of the Wendigos
Their bodies were tattered, their skin was almost dead of extreme thinness, their eyes were deeply disconfirmed. They looked like living dead men wandering the world.
A Wendigo is driven by an endless appetite, he would attack all men making his appetite ever greater like a vampire.
It is likely that in reality, men have become mad from the lack of food and have turned to cannibalism. However, this story would have served to comfort the Algonquins in the face of the madness generated by this lack.
However, the Algonquin people must have been almost consoled by the idea of these mythological creatures. It was a form of giving meaning to the times when hunger drove honest, respectable men to do the unthinkable.
7) Qalupalik (mythology)
On the Arctic side, children were told that they should never be too close to the water’s edge, because under the ice, the Qalupalik was waiting for them.
The Inuit children were told that when the Qalupalik approached, a strange and distant humming sound could be heard under the sea in the form of a song. When it caught its victim, it was only visible for a moment before it disappeared. The way he did it was to jump out of the water and then dig his long, sharp nails into the flesh of his victim, dragging him forward. Only the victim could quickly see his face, which looked like a woman’s face turned green and swollen.
The victim was trapped in the back pocket of the Qalupalik just before it plunged back into the sea.
It is likely that the Inuit victim was experiencing final moments of pain in the depths, as the icy water enters the throat opened by the screams. This ice would freeze the blood through the mist of the water.
It is conceivable that this story was told to Inuit children to keep them from approaching the icy and dangerous waters.
8) Basilisk (mythology)
A) History of the Basilisk (monster)
It all starts in Warsaw in 1587, a five year old girl had disappeared. She was playing with a friend and she didn’t come home, her mother and her maid searched the whole city. The girls were found in the basement of a house that had been abandoned and in ruins for over 30 years. Both bodies were stiff and motionless like a bronze statue.
While the mother was upstairs in the house, the maid went down the stairs into the darkness. However, before she could reach the bottom, she suddenly stopped. Later, in town, it was said that she froze because she had been staring into the eyes of a Basilisk, the beast that kills with a look.
B) Description of the Basilisk (mythology)
This mythological creature was also known to the Romans in the first place. The Basilisk was endowed with a venom so powerful that a simple look was enough to kill. Even with patience, this monster would leave a trail of poison everywhere.
It may have been a real animal, or it may have been an exaggerated version of an existing animal. We know that Libya has cobras capable of spitting poison, perhaps this ability has been hijacked to the point of being able to kill with a single look.
However, cobras are not located in Warsaw, but the inhabitants insisted on proving that this monster was noticed. Therefore, they sent a prisoner named Johann Faurer within the refuge of the beast in a cloak of mirrors, allowing the creature to be taken out with a rake. A doctor stated:
“It was really a Basilisk, it had the head of a rooster, the eyes of a toad, a crest like a crown, a scaly skin “covered with the hue of poisonous animals” as well as a curved tail.”
It is possible that this is a case of mass illusion, as an entire town saw the monster exactly where they hoped to see it. However, there was definitely something within that cellar and the townspeople needed an explanation for the murder of those people.
9) Nian (mythology)
A) The legend of Nian
Every year on New Year’s Eve, the Nian would come down from its mountain to find food in China.
This creature was unstoppable, no weapon could reach it and even the test of time could not stop it. The only solution for the inhabitants of ancient China was to lock themselves up in their homes, hide and pray to stay alive.
The people watched the monster’s movements from their hiding places. The Nian had a flat lion-like face with two gigantic horns on its head and razor-sharp teeth. This monster was larger than an elephant or any other beast on the planet.
With luck, the monstrous creature would break through their food supply and eat all their crops. However, if the creature didn’t get what it wanted, it would tear the bodies apart with its sharp teeth, devouring piece by piece. The Nian had a preference for the flesh of children.
If they were lucky, it would break through their grain stores and eat every ounce of food they had saved. But if they were unlucky, the Nian would spot one and pounce. It would scratch them with its horns and tear their bodies apart with its sharp teeth and devour them piece by piece. Anyone could fall victim to it – but above all, the Nian savored the flesh of the children.
B) Origin of the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year)
Throughout the centuries, the Nian terrorized the rural lands of China, until one day an old man scared the monster away. Afterwards, he confessed to being a god in disguise and taught the people how to keep their territory safe:
“The demon Nian cannot be killed, however it is possible to keep her at a distance. This beast gets scared easily and does not like the color red. It fears loud noises and enigmatic creatures. Starting tonight, wear red in the village, on every door and make loud noises with drums, music and fireworks. Cover your children with masks as well as lanterns to preserve them.”
Nowadays, Chinese people celebrate the Spring Festival with the same traditions as in the past. Legends say it is the only celebration that prevents mythological creatures from looting homes.
10) Kraken (mythology)
A) Kraken Myth or Reality?
In the 18th century, the Norwegian bishop Henrik Pontoppidan insisted that the Kraken was not a myth. A Norwegian fisherman had seen it with his own eyes countless times, usually on hot summer days.
“Our fishermen guarantee that when they cross great distances, the Kraken is at the bottom of the sea,” Pontoppidan exclaimed.
Initially, a boiling as well as a division of marine life takes place, as if all underwater life was fleeing in panic. Then, a gigantic black shape rises from the depths. The sailors who were panicked moved away as far as possible. Once these sailors were at a reasonable distance curiosity would take over and many of them would look back, seeing, as Pontoppidan described it:
“They see the sea monster rise to the surface. Its back seems to be more than two kilometers in circumference, at first it could be mistaken for some small islands, then as it goes on, bright spots and horns are seen, becoming thicker and thicker as the beast rises.”
B) Description of the Kraken
The Kraken was the most ferocious sea creature. On the surface, it could compare to ten warships side by side (boat). Its tentacles could pull a ship and its crew into a watery grave below.
Since the 13th century, a document is available on this fantastic creature that overwhelms the seas. The Viking hero
Documentation exists on this horrific mythological creature that haunts the seas since the 13th century. According to some accounts, the Viking hero Örvar-Oddr of Iceland mistook it for an island and narrowly escaped being swallowed up.
Nowadays, the Kraken has been a part of mythological creatures for centuries and stirs our imagination. Perhaps those fishermen on the Norwegian coast were partly right. Even if no such creature as the Kraken exists, various scientists have noticed a giant squid that could weigh up to 270 kg. It is likely that this creature exists but that its story has been fabricated. Or maybe this creature has never been seen again, but somewhere it lies within the unimaginable depths.
The Stylish Lion and its Creatures
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