"First of all, the Void came into being, next the broad bosomed Earth, the solid and eternal home of all, and Eros (Desire, the most beautiful of the immortal gods, who in every man and every god softens the sinews and overpowers the prudent purpose of the mind. Out of the Void came the Darkness and black Night, and out of the Night came Light and Day, her children conceived after union in love with Darkness."--Hesiod's Theogeny

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Lamia

This is the name of a female supernatural monster in the mythology of Greece and Rome.  In classical mythology, the Lamia is one of a class of female monsters depicted with a snake's body and a woman's head and breasts. She is said to be one of the earliest supernatural forms that displayed vampire characteristics., she prowled among the settlements in the northern African deserts looking for victims her victims, usually sleeping babies whom she stole from their cradles and transported to her lair. She also devoured the babes she snatched right out of the mother's arms.  Scholars believe that those attributions provided an explanation for the otherwise inexplicable deaths of  babies. 
According to Greek legend, Lamia was once a beautiful Libyan princess, the daughter of Belus and the Queen of Libya.The princess Lamia was so incredibly beautiful that Zeus couldn't resist her charms and fell in love with her. Hera, riddled by  jealousy, in retaliation for the husband's affair decided turn Lamia into a hideous monster and to kill all of her offspring, Hera also made Lamia unable to close her eyes so she couldn’t find rest from the horrifying image of her dead children. 

Lamia’s grief turned her into a monster that took vengeance upon humankind by st wandering the earth, killing as many children as possible. When Zeus saw what Hera had done to Lamia, he felt pity for her and to counter this, Zeus gave Lamia the power to take out her eyes when she slept and replace them when she awoke. Gradually her thirst for ruin grew more and more unquenchable, and going to the other extreme of human life, she began to attack old men and women. Like a sinister, fearful vampire she sucked their blood, thus weakening their already feeble  bodies. 
She was a gordian shape of dazzling hue,
Vermilion-spotted, golden, green, and blue;
Striped like a zebra, freckled like a pard,
Eyed like a peacock, and all crimson barr'd; 
And full of silver moons, that, as she breathed,
Dissolv'd, or brighter shone, or interwreathed
Their lustres with the gloomier tapestries--
So rainbow-sided, touch'd with miseries,
She seem'd, at once, some penanced lady elf,
Some demon's mistress, or the demon's self.

The Lamia of the Sea in modern Greek folklore is the same thing as the sirens of Odysseus. An ominous sea spirit, it is said that she roams the modern Greek coastline. This Lamia is dangerous, as well, but not in the same way. They are, as a rule, held to be solitary in their habits,  but may occasionally be seen, clad in gleaming white, dancing  through moonlit glades or on the glistening sands of lonely isles.  Sometimes, however, they assume the forms of beautiful women, who, like the Sirens, lure men to to their deaths by their sweet voices and graceful dancing.  

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