Last updated on October 26th, 2021 at 12:03 am
What mythological creatures do you know? I’m sure that most of you have heard of the Minotaur, about Scylla and Charybdis, as well as of the Centaurs and the Cyclops. Possibly you know even more monsters of mythology and most of them come from Greek mythology.
Forgotten Monsters of Greek mythology
But today we will not talk about these famous fantastic creatures that have appeared in movies and books countless times. Instead, we will try to find the monsters that were once mighty, powerful, and terrible, but now they have been forgotten.
There are many of them, so we will not find them all. But we will definitely get a picture of a different, fantastic mythological world of ancient Greece that has remained invisible.
The rich Greek mythology covers a huge range of fiction. In its stories, you will find countless witches, monsters, elves, demons, ghosts, giants and dwarfs, winged dragons and horses, enchanted objects, and mechanical beings.
Fantastic creatures really strange for a 21st-century human mind, but at the time they were born and for many centuries later they were considered real.
Some said that they saw them, some heard them and some were destroyed or saved by them like the heroes of myths.
For the human of antiquity, this mythology was his history, his religion, his teaching. In short, a part of his daily life.
That is why we should not be impressed that many of these strange mythological beings, such as the Lamies, the Dragons, and others have survived and come to life again in the newest legends and folk tales of the Greek tradition.
These monsters are not dead, they are just imprisoned in deep caves from which they can not escape.
We just want to meet them, so we have to travel deep into the earth using, where necessary, a little of our imagination.
A fantastic trip in the depths of the Earth
But let’s talk no more, and let’s start the descent, we will go back, we will sink into the depths of our mind, to its unknown side, where the subconscious resides.
In search of these strange mythological creatures, we will travel to the space-time of fantasy. In these deep caves, we will find everything gathered. So let’s move on!
We are already inside the cave. It is slightly illuminated by the torch we are holding. The light from its flames in combination with the stalactites, form strange eerie shadows.
Ancient words are engraved on its walls, in unknown languages that once existed or have not existed yet. A smell of dirt and moisture is around and water drips from the top, whispers are heard all around.
It’s about time to start the descent. We will find seven levels here and we will go very deep down. What did you think? The long-lost imaginary creatures are not so easy to find.
The goddess of Deception
So we reached the first level. It is not easy, the place is getting dark and narrow. It leads us to an opening, it is the entrance of the first chamber.
We first insert our head and look carefully inside.
There is a woman-like creature sitting in the center. She has snakes instead of hair, bat wings come out of her back and her hands end up in lighted torches.
There are other engravings around the walls, depicting her with fingers from vipers or whips. She looks at us with her glowing eyes. She looks like Erinyes, the goddesses of Curse and Revenge. She is no other than the goddess of Deception, the personification of deception, deceit, and falsehood.
According to Hesiod, her mother was the goddess Nychta (Night). It is said that the goddess of Deception existed before gods and humans and that she always acted in the dark, where no one, not even Zeus himself, could resist her power.
She shows us a recess in the rock, from there we have to go if we want to go even lower.
Argos or Panoptis
We follow her advice, and we reach the second chamber. A huge creature is waiting for us. A shepherd monster with a hundred eyes, a creature trained to guard people and animals.
His name is Argos (means “bright”) or Panoptis (“The one who sees everything”).
It makes sense if you consider that he had eyes everywhere, in front of and behind his head and all over his body, while they say that when he slept, he only closed half of them while the rest kept him awake.
Historian Ferekidis records that his eyes were only four, two in front and two behind (plus one that was placed on his neck by Hera, the wife of Zeus), while others claim that they were infinite.
Aeschylus calls him “Myriopon voutan”, which means “the many-many-eyed herdsman”
The only time that Argos fell asleep was when, watching the transformed into cow Io on behalf of Hera (so that Zeus would not make her a woman again), Hermes, sent by Zeus, put him to sleep with his flute and killed him. To this day, they say, Panoptis with the hundred eyes is depicted on the peacock’s tail, one of the birds-symbol of Hera and the starry sky.
The Hecatoncheires (Men with Hundred hands)
The further we go, the heavier we get. And at the same time, we feel that we are slowly disappearing into space. We are in the third chamber now. It is incredibly big. It does not seem to have a roof over it, only deep darkness.
Three huge giants are standing in front of us. Each one has fifty heads and a hundred hands.
They are called respectively Vriareos (“The solid”), Kottos (“The frantic”), and Gyis or Gygis (“The multi-member”).
They are the Hecatoncheires(Men with Hundred hands), they were the first children of Gaia and Uranus, the Uranians. They symbolized the uncontrollable forces of nature and especially the clouds that formed.
Ugly as they say and bad characters, therefore dangerous with so much power, that is why they lived for a long time imprisoned in Tartarus by their father Uranus.
Zeus liberated them so they could fight to support him in the great battle the gods had with the Titans. In the end, they became the captives of the Titans in Tartarus. Maybe they still guard the Tartarus down there.
Fantasos: The monster that could take any form
We move even lower. Into the fourth chamber. It looks empty but it’s not.
On the walls around are carved all the dreams that man has ever seen or will see. At its center, there is a strange creature without a clear form.
Its name is Fantasos, a being who has the ability to transform into any inanimate thing, real or imagined, and to present himself to humans in any form he wished.
Son of the god Hypnos(Sleep), and the Grace Pasithea.
His brothers were the god of dreams Morpheus(Who could take the form and imitate the voice of every human being) and Phoebus (who could imitate any animal). But we do not sleep now, so we do not see it clearly, and he does not even know if we have a human form, so he can’t hurt us.
Empousa: The one who penetrates
From a small hole, we keep going down lower and lower.
We reach the fifth chamber. Whispers and murmurs surround us.
At one end there is a strange creature. She looks like a woman, but she has only one leg, where she wears a bronze sandal and has donkey dicks.
Her name is Empousa (“The one who penetrates”), she is considered the daughter of the goddess of the underworld, Hecate. It is said that she often left the Underworld at night and ascended to the world of the living.
Her face lit up as if it is on fire, while she could take the form of animals and beautiful women. Its purpose is to seduce travelers in deserted places, leading them to a bad end (you do not want details, believe me).
The only defense against her is said to have been swearing.
The dwarf demons Daktyloi (Fingers) or Idaioi
We are moving forward, now we are moving almost intangibly. We have to hurry because the lower we go, the more we get lost.
We are in the sixth chamber. Some creatures with the form of low rocks are here.
Mountain dwarf demons with magical qualities, but also they are great metallurgists. People say that they jumped from the ground when the Titaness Rhea put her fingers in the ground, as she was giving birth to Zeus. Five women came out of her left hand and five men from the right and they stood there next to her as assistants in childbirth. They are called Daktyloi or Idaioi.
They got their name either because they jumped out of the holes in the ground made by the goddess’s fingers, or because they were small like finger-length, or because they were great craftsmen.
It is said that later it was these women who went to the island of Samothrace and there began their worship ceremonies, the Mysteries of Daktyloi (Fingers) – which they later became the Kaverian mysteries. The maple leaf symbolized the five Fingers, that is, the palm of Rhea.
According to Strabo, they numbered from three to one hundred. Others report twenty right-handed blacksmiths and thirty left-handed women witches. They are quite often identified with the Kerkopes, a small race of demonic beings who lived, they say, in Asia Minor.
But we have said a lot and it is time to continue.
The mighty Typhon, the father of all monsters
And here we are in the last chamber, the seventh.
Our torch is about to go out, but in the shadows, something fades.
It is the strongest and largest imaginary creature that has ever walked the earth. The son of the gods of the abyss Tartarus and Gaia, He is the mighty Typhon.
Tall to the stars and with huge wings that when opened cover the sky. From the middle and above in the form of a man and from the middle and below like two coiled echidnas(snakes).
With long hair and beard and the rest of the body covered by its wings.
Many say they had seen him with a huge donkey head and eyes throwing fire, a mouth firing hot rocks, and a voice as if thousands of people and animals and birds and reptiles were screaming at the same time.
With a hundred dragon heads on the tips of his serpentine hands, which were so long (a hundred leagues each, they say) that one reached the east and the other the west.
Typhon’s awful children
His children were Cerberus, the Lernaean Hydra, the Lion of Nemea, the Chimera, and the Sphinx of Thebes.
After the Battle of Titans, he was the one who fought against Zeus to seize power but lost.
The bloodshed by the mortally wounded Typhon gave its name to the mountain range of Aimos (as Aema is blood in Greek).
It is said that he was buried under the volcano of Mount Etna in Sicily together with Egelados( the god of earthquakes).
According to Hesiod, the windstorms are children of Typhon.
Finally, Typhon is said to symbolize the last resistance of the savage and uncontrollable forces of nature against the enforcement of the order of natural laws. Maybe that’s why we had to go so deep to find him.
Time to return, before we get completely lost and forgotten in the dark caves and labyrinthine basements we have dived into. Take a deep breath and time counts backward. We return today. In our place and present time.
We got only a little taste of those awful creatures that are hidden in the sanctuaries of the collective subconscious. And there are many caves, underground labyrinths, and galleries down there that in a unique way connect the mythologies of the whole world.
But we will talk about more creatures of Greek mythology on another fantastic trip. For now, I hope you do not panic next time you enter a cave…