Greek mythology features some truly terrifying monsters. You wouldn’t want to run into any of these creatures at night—or even in the daytime!
Imagine a giant three-headed dog. Then imagine that creature with a lion’s claws and a serpent for a tale. Cerberus served as the watchdog for the underworld. Some Greeks called him the “hound of Hades.” He ate anyone who tried to escape. One of the tasks of the hero Heracles was to capture Cerberus and bring him above ground. That was quite a task, but Heracles succeeded.
Another three-headed beast, the Chimera had the heads of a lion, a goat, and a snake. The lion’s head breathed fire. The hero Bellerophon killed this terrifying monster. Bellerophon thrust a spear tipped with lead into the mouth of the monster while riding on the back of the winged horse Pegasus. The lead melted inside the Chimera’s fiery mouth, choking it.
These giants had a single eye set in the middle of their foreheads. According to some Greek legends, they are the creatures who provided Zeus with his thunderbolt weapon. But they were also cannibals, and they terrorized anyone who came near them. In the Odyssey, Odysseus escaped the Cyclops Polyphemus by blinding him.
These three sisters had snakes for hair. According to legend, simply looking into their eyes instantly turned a person into stone. The Greek hero Perseus managed to kill one of the Gorgons, Medusa. He did so by sneaking up on her while she slept. He used a brightly polished shield as a mirror and backed toward her without looking at her directly. Then he cut off her head with a sword.
This snake-like creature had many heads. If someone tried to kill one of the heads, two more would grow in its place. This made the monster nearly impossible to defeat. According to legend, Heracles killed Hydra with help from his nephew, Iolaus. As Heracles killed each of Hydra’s heads, Iolaus immediately burned the neck with a torch. This prevented new heads from growing there.
With the body of a man and the head of a bull, the Minotaur frightened all who saw him. He lived in the middle of a giant maze. He fed on young Athenians who were sacrificed to him. The hero Theseus found his way to the center of the maze, trailing a string of thread behind him. He killed the Minotaur and followed the thread to find his way back out.
Half birds and half beautiful women, the Sirens sang sweetly to lure passing sailors close to the islands where they lived. There the sailors’ ships crashed into deadly rocks. Only the hero Odysseus survived the Sirens’ singing. He had the members of his crew put wax into their ears so they could not hear the Sirens sing. According to some legends, the Sirens committed suicide after being bested by a mortal.
Typhon and Echidna
Typhon was a monster with a hundred dragons’ heads. His wife, Echidna, was a woman with a snake’s body. Together, they parented many monsters, including several from this list.
Written by John Micklos, Jr.