Creatures of Greek Mythology
Greek mythology is full of tales of daring heroes and terrible monsters, many of which feature in Age of Mythology. Here you can find some background info on many of the creatures that feature in the Greek culture in AoM.
The centaurs of Greek mythology were creatures that were part human and part horse. They are usually portrayed with the torso and head of a human, and the body of a horse. Centaurs are the followers of the wine god Dionysus and are well known for drunkenness and carrying off helpless young maidens. They inhabited Mount Pelion in Thessaly, northern Greece.
The race of Centaurs was begotten in a strange story of convultions between Zeus and Hera. Ixion, the king of Lapithae (Thessaly) fell in love with Hera, and agreed to meet her. But Zeus, discovering this, foiled Ixion's plan and deceived him into thinking he had succeeded by creating a cloud in Hera's shape and commanding it to meet the mortal king in Hera's place.
Centaurs were typically xenophobic, belligerent and
aggressive creatures, who kept to themselves in the wilds,
though there are tales of other Centaurs, such as the kind
and wise centaur Chairon, the teacher of the Greek heroes
Jason and Achilles.
One of the children of Typhon and Echidna, Chimera was a hideous monster with the head of a lion, the body of a goat, and the tail of a serpent. It had three heads and could breathe fire.
In the tale of Bellepheron, the Chimera terrorised the
region of Lycia as each night it swept down upon the valley
and carried off women, children, and livestock, leaving the
bones of his many victims lay strewn along the
mountainside. The Greek hero Bellepheron, seeking to
destroy the beast, had to tame the magnificent winged horse
Pegasus in order to get close to the nimble monster and
avoid his flaming maw in order to drive a spear into his
chest, its only weak point.
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The Cyclopes were giants, many times the size of a man with a single, distinctive eye in the middle of their foreheads. There are two different generations of Cyclopes in Greek mythology, both very different.
The first generation of Cyclopes were born from the union of Gaia and Uranus. (Earth and sky.) These were stubborn but generally wise and intelligent creatures. Imprisoned by their father Uranus from birth, they were freed by Zeus during the war of the titans, and proved to be inventive blacksmiths who created such wonders as Zeus thunderbolts, Poseidons trident, and Hades cap of invisibility. They were eventually slain in an act of revenge by Apollo, who was angry at Zeus slaying Asclepius - Apollos son - for having brought a person back from the underworld. Apollo was outraged and killed the Cyclopes who had forged the deadly thunderbolt which instrumented the deed. The ghosts of Brontes, Steropes, and Arges are said to dwell in Mt. Etna, an active volcano that smokes as a result of their still burning forges.
The second generation descended from Poseidon and the sea
nymph Thoosa. These were by nature they were stubborn,
belligerent and dwelt heavily on thoughts of violence and
power. Dwelling in Sicily, the second generation of
Cyclopes was little more than a band of lawless shepherds.
The best known featuring of these creatures in mythology is
in Homer's Odyessy, where the hero Odysseus and his crew
landed on the shores of the realm of the Cyclopes. He and a
few of his best men were trapped by the Cyclops Polyphemus,
and became prisoners in his cave, waiting to be eaten.
Odysseus eventually escaped by blinding the Cyclops and
tricking him from calling for help so he could
The Griffin is a legendary creature with the head, beak and
wings of an eagle, the body of a lion and occasionally the
tail of a serpent or scorpion. While their origin is
obscure, most tales say they belonged to Zeus and followed
his bidding, but were attributed to a number of cheeky to
downright malevolent acts. Theyare best known for stealing
gold from the stream of Arimaspias, belonging to the
Another monster spawned by Typhon and Echidna, the Hydra was a great serpent with nine heads. It lived in the swamps near to the ancient city of Lerna in Argolis, and terrorised the locals constantly, stealing livestock and destroying houses. The people, simple peasants, could do nothing to stop the beast, and while many heroes died trying to defeat it, they could do nothing since whenever one of the Hydra's heads was cut off, another grew back in its place.
The Hydra was defeated in the tale of Heracles; slaying the
beast was one of the twelve tasks laid out for the Olympian
hero. In order to stop the heads regrowing as he cut them
off, he cauterised the severed stumps with a flaming brand.
When he failed to cut off the final head, which turned
every stroke of his blade, he knocked the beast out with
his club and buried it under a pile of boulders.
The Manticore was a creature with the torso of a lion, the
hindquarters of a scorpion and a head with human
resemblance. It was typically blamed for the mysterious
dissapearance of a person, since it was well known that it
fed only on human flesh and ate even the clothing and
possessions of its victim. While there are no tales that
describe one, it was generally considered to have three
rows of razor-sharp teeth and its scorpion like tail
allowed it to fire poisonous darts. When a villager has
completely disappeared, this is considered proof of the
presence of a manticore.
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Medusa was originally a beautiful maiden. However, after desecrating Athena's temple by lying there with Poseidon, Athena turned Medusa into a monster. Like the other Gorgons, Medsua was a monstrous creature covered with impenetrable scales, with hair of living snakes, and clawed hands made of brass. And like the other Gorgons, if a mortal creature looked into her eyes, they would be instantly be turned into stone.
Medusa was eventually killed by the hero Perseus who
carried a reflective shield. Medusa, on seeing her own
reflection, was instantly paralyzed, allowing Perseus to
cut her head off. Medusa's severed head retain its property
of turning mortals to stone however, and after Perseus gave
it to Athena, she chose to mount it on her Aegis. As a
result it was common for soldiers of Athens to have a
design of a head with writhing snakes [symbolic of Medusa]
on their shields, believing it would give them the same
protection as the Aegis Shield.
Angry at being deceived by Minos, king of Crete, Poseidon made Pasipha, his wife fall in love with a white bull. The offspring of their love was a monster called the Minotaur. The creature had the head and tail of a bull on the body of a man.
The minotaur terrorised the populace of Crete. No one could
slay the beast and no prison could hold it, so the great
architect Daedalus came up with a plan not to imprison the
Minotaur through means of four solid walls, but through
means of a maze so confusing it could not escape. The
result was the labyrinth, from which escape would be
impossible, and so the Minotaur was captured and locked
inside. Rather than enrage it by starving the creature
Minos sent seven youths and seven maidens into the
labyrinth upon which he would feast - tribute from the city
One of the children of Typhon and Echidna, the Nemean Lion was twice as great as any normal lion and had a roar so terrifying any mortal man would flee in terror on hearing it. It roamed the Nemean forest, devouring any human it came upon.
The first of the twelve tasks of Heracles was to slay the
beast. However, after grappling with the beast for some
time, he realised that no weapon could pierce its skin, so
changing his approach, he stunned the lion with his club,
and then strangled it to death. Using the lion's own claws
to cut the skin from the creature, he fashioned the cloak
which he is characteristically seen wearing; which retained
the property that it was unpiercable by any weapon.
Pegasus was the great, winged horse born from the union of Medusa and Poseidon. When Medusa's head was cut of by the Greek hero Perseus, the horse sprang forth from her pregnant body.
Pegasus features in numerous tales of Greek heroes, the
most prominent being the tale of Bellerophon; where he used
a golden bridle gievn to him by Athena to capture and tame
the horse in order to use it to defeat the monstrous
Chimera. The gods then gave him Pegasus for killing
Chimera, but when he attempted to mount the horse it threw
him off and rose to the heavens, where it became a
constellation of stars.
Scylla was a nymph, daughter of Phorcys. The
fisherman-turned-sea-god Glaucus fell madly in love with
her, but she fled from him onto the land where he could not
follow. Despair filled his heart. He went to the sorceress
Circe to ask for a love potion to melt Scylla's heart. As
he told his tale of love to Circe, she herself fell in love
with him. She wooed him with her sweetest words and looks,
but the sea-god would have none of her. Circe was furiously
angry, but with Scylla and not with Glaucus. She prepared a
vial of very powerful poison and poured it in the pool
where Scylla bathed. As soon as the nymph entered the water
she was transformed into a frightful monster with twelve
feet and six heads, each with three rows of teeth. Below
the waist her body was made up of hideous monsters, like
dogs, who barked unceasingly. She stood there in utter
misery, unable to move, loathing and destroying everything
that came into her reach, a peril to all sailors who passed
near her. Whenever a ship passed, each of her heads would
seize one of the crew.
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