Greek mythology is famous for its numerous mythical creatures, which appear extensively at crucial moments in Greek myths and epic poems. The creatures are supernatural beings with different powers and abilities and come in various forms.
These strange and sometimes terrifying creatures were used in Greek mythology by the Greek gods. They could be sent for various reasons: to hurt or harm and to protect or inspire terror.
Some of the characteristics of these beings exaggerated human bodies or combined them with those of animals.
These are some of the many Greek mythological creatures that haunted the imagination of the classical world.
The best-known fantastic creatures of Greek Mythology
One of the most popular Greek mythological creatures is Pegasus, a beautiful white horse with large wings. He was the horse of Zeus and was born from the blood of Medusa when Perseus beheaded her.
Pegasus is a noble and intelligent horse, and will not be ridden by just anyone indiscriminately. Only those who have a good heart can ride Pegasus, as he is able to perceive the evil behind people’s intentions.
It is one of the creatures of Greek mythology that has appeared extensively in film and television, becoming a symbol of honor in many stories.
In Greek mythology, the Hydra of Lerna was a ruthless water monster, which had reptilian claws and several heads. According to the myth, every time one of its heads was cut off, two other heads would emerge.
She was raised by Hera, the wife of Zeus, who kept her in a swamp that protected the garden of Lerna.
Hydra was a very solitary creature until she was killed by Hercules. He then soaked his sword in Hydra’s blood to make it poisonous.
Also known as Can Cerberus was a Greek mythological dog-like creature with three heads and a snake for a tail.
He was the dog of the god Hades, and his job was to guard the gate of the underworld, ensuring that the dead did not leave and the living could not enter.
He was captured by Hercules on his last mission.
This mythological creature takes the hybrid form of an eagle and a lion, combining their ferocity and courage in a single being.
They usually roam in packs and are difficult to tame. However, the demigods were able to tame them and, under their command, they became loyal. They feed on the flesh of horses.
One myth tells the story of Apollo, who went in search of griffins and returned to Greece riding a hydra. The hydra guarded him and watched over his treasures.
Charybdis, a nymph, was once the beautiful daughter of Poseidon and Gaea. According to the myth, she flooded much of the Earth to expand her father’s kingdom and return to it. This infuriated her uncle Zeus, who turned her into a monster and banished her to the sea.
Charybdis became one of the most fearsome sea monsters. She used to swallow large quantities of water every day, forming whirlpools and devouring sailors. When she spat out the water, tornadoes would form.
According to Greek mythology, the Cyclops were one-eyed giants and among the first beings to inhabit the universe.
They were a savage race dedicated to herding and hunting. They feared neither gods nor men.
There were two generations of Cyclops. The first generation was formed by the sons of Uranus and Gaea, who were dedicated to construction and craftsmanship. They were stubborn and had a horrible temper.
In time, they became known for their strength and power, as they forged weapons of great workmanship.
The second generation of Cyclops is a small tribe that lived on a remote island. One of these Cyclops is one of the most famous creatures in all of Greek mythology. He is Polyphemus, son of Poseidon and the nymph Toosa, who lost his eye when Odysseus blinded him in order to escape from his cave, where the Cyclops had taken him and other men when they were kidnapped.
The gorgons were ruthless female monsters: Medusa, Steno and Euryale, who were daughters of the sea gods Forcis and Ceto. Medusa was the only mortal of the three.
They were beautiful but had snakes instead of hair, and anyone who looked at them was instantly petrified. That is why gorgons were sculpted at the entrances of the temples to scare away visitors.
Athena, jealous of the beauty and attention Medusa possessed, cursed her. She was later beheaded by Perseus, who used her head as a weapon and gave it to Athena as a shield.
A centaur is a creature that is half man and half horse. Centaurs have the head, arms and torso of a man and the body and legs of a horse.
The centaurs lived in the mountains of Thessaly alongside the Lapiths, with whom they waged a constant war because the centaurs wanted to kidnap Hippodamia, the beautiful wife of King Piritoo.
King Piritoo celebrated his wedding with a great banquet and invited all the inhabitants of the region, including the centaurs.
The centaurs, however, had never tasted wine, so when they got drunk, they wanted to kidnap Hippodamia, as well as other attendees at the banquet. This event later led to a war that was won by the Lapiths.
The Minotaur is one of the most fascinating monsters in Greek mythology. With the body of a man and the head of a bull, his name means “Bull of Minos“. He was the son of Pasiphae and the Bull of Crete.
Minos, son of Zeus, asked Poseidon for help so that his people could make him king of Crete after the death of Asterion. Poseidon agreed and brought out of the seas a beautiful white bull, which Minos promised to sacrifice on his behalf.
But Minos was amazed by the bull’s beauty and sacrificed another in its place, hoping to fool Poseidon. This enraged Poseidon and, in revenge, he awakened a desire in Pasiphae, Minos’ wife, instructing her to have a child with the white bull, which gave rise to the minotaur.
The minotaur became violent as he aged, so Minos built a labyrinth and locked the minotaur inside. The minotaur consumed only human flesh, and every nine years, Minos sacrificed seven women and seven men to be devoured by the minotaur.
The Chimera is one of the most famous monsters in Greek mythology, appearing in art for thousands of years. It has the head and body (which spits fire) of a lion, a snake for a tail and the head of a goat protruding from its back. The hero Bellerophon killed him with the help of Pegasus.
Harpies are female monsters depicted as half-woman half-bird creatures, or as birds with women’s heads. They are famous for appearing in the story ofJason and the Argonauts, where they torment the Greek heroes on their journey.
Mermaids were giant, winged creatures with the heads of women (not to be confused with harpies, another monster with the appearance of a female bird). They lived in the rocks of the sea, where their beautiful song lured sailors to shipwreck. Odysseus filled the ears of his sailors with wax so that they could sail safely in the face of the sirens.
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 entering and leaving the city and eating those who failed. The Sphinx was defeated by the hero Oedipus, a feat that set him on the path to his tragic fate as king of Thebes.