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Mythical Creatures -

Amazons
The race of Amazons or fighting women, is not yet extinct, ...

Pygmies
The antitheses of men--Dwarfs, and Giants--must not be over...

Giants
This last sentence seems almost a compendium of The History...

Early Men
On the antiquity of man it is impossible to speculate, beca...

Wild Men
Sometimes a specimen of humanity has got astray in infancy,...

Hairy Men
If, as we may conjecture from the above, the ancient Briton...

The Ouran Outan
Transition from hirsute humanity to the apes, is easy, and ...

Satyrs
He also mentions and delineates a curious Ape which closely...

The Sphynx
"The SPHYNGA or Sphinx, is of the kind of Apes, but his bre...

Apes
Sluper, who could soar to the height of delineating a Cyclo...

Animal Lore
We are indebted to Pliny for much strange animal lore--whic...

The Manticora
Of curious animals, other than Apes, depicted as having som...

The Lamia
The Lamiae are mythological--and were monsters of Africa, w...

The Centaur
This extraordinary combination of man and animal is very an...

The Gorgon
In the title-page of one edition of "The Historie of Foure-...

The Unicorn
What a curious belief was that of the Unicorn! Yet what myt...

The Rhinoceros
The true Unicorn is, of course, the Rhinoceros, and this pi...

The Gulo
Olaus Magnus thus describes the Gulo or Gulon:--"Amongst...

The Bear
As Pliny not only uses all Aristotle's matter anent Bears, ...

The Fox
By Englishmen, the Fox has been raised to the height of at ...

The Wolf
The Wolf, as a beast of prey, is invested with a terror pec...

Were-wolves
But of all extraordinary stories connected with the Wolf, i...

The Antelope
When not taken from living specimens, or skins, the arti...

The Horse
Aldrovandus gives us a curious specimen of a horse, which t...

The Mimick Dog
"The Mimicke or Getulian Dogge," is, I take it, meant fo...

The Cat
Aldrovandus gives us a picture of a curly-legged Cat, but, ...

The Lion
Of the great Cat, the Lion, the ancients give many wonderfu...

The Leontophonus The Pegasus The Crocotta
The Lion has a dreadful enemy, according to Pliny, who says...

The Leucrocotta The Eale Cattle Feeding Backwards
"There are oxen, too, like that of India, some with one hor...

Animal Medicine
We have already seen some of the wonderfully curative prope...

The Su
Topsell mentions a fearful beast called the Su. "There is a...

The Lamb-tree
As a change from this awful animal, let us examine the Plan...

The Chimaera
Aldrovandus gives us the accompanying illustration of a ...

The Harpy And Siren
The conjunction of the human form with birds is very eas...

The Barnacle Goose
Of all extraordinary beliefs, that in the Barnacle Goose, w...

Remarkable Egg
No wonder that a credulous age, which could see nothing ...

Moon Woman
One would have imagined that this Egg would be sufficien...

The Griffin
There always has been a tradition of birds being existent, ...

The Phoenix
Pliny says of the Phoenix:--"AEthiopia and India, more espe...

The Swallow
"And is the swallow gone? Who beheld it? Wh...

The Martlet And Footless Birds
Of the Martin, or, as in Heraldry it is written, Martlet, G...

Snow Birds
But we must leave warm climes, and birds of Paradise, and s...

The Swan
The ancient fable so dear, even to modern poets, that Swans...

The Alle Alle
"There is also in this Lake (the White Lake) a kind of b...

The Hoopoe And Lapwing
Whether the following bird is meant for the Hoopoe, or the ...

The Ostrich
Modern observation, and especially Ostrich farming, has ...

The Halcyon
Of this bird, the Kingfisher, Aristotle thus discourses:--"...

The Pelican
The fable of the Pelican "in her piety, vulning herself,...

The Trochilus
This bird, as described by Aristotle, and others, is of a p...

Woolly Hens
Sir John Maundeville saw in "the kingdome named Mancy, whic...

Two-headed Wild Geese
Near the land of the Cynocephali or dog-headed men, there w...

Four-footed Duck
Gesner describes a four-footed duck, which he says is li...

Fish
Terrestrial and Aerial animals were far more familiar to th...

The Sea-mouse
"The Sea-Mouse makes a hole in the Earth, and lays her Eggs...

The Sea-hare
"The Sea-Hare is found to be of divers kinds in the Ocean, ...

The Sea-pig
Again we are indebted to Gesner for the drawing of thi...

The Walrus
Of the Walrus, Rosmarus, or Morse, Gesner draws, and Ola...

The Ziphius
This Voracious Animal, whose size may be imagined by compar...

The Saw Fish
"The Saw fish is also a beast of the Sea; the body is huge ...

The Orca
is probably the Thresher whale. Pliny thus describes it:--"...

The Dolphin
Pliny says:--"The Dolphin is an animal not only friendly to...

The Narwhal
generally called the Monoceros or Sea Unicorn, is thus show...

The Swamfisck
The accompanying illustration, though heading the chapte...

The Sahab
"There is also another Sea-Monster, called Sahab, which hat...

The Circhos
"There is also another Monster like to that, called Circhos...

The Remora
Of this fish Pliny writes:--"There is a very small fish tha...

The Dog-fish And Ray
Olaus Magnus writes of "The cruelty of some Fish, and th...

The Sea Dragon
Of the Ray tribe of fishes, the Sea Dragon is the most ...

The Sting Ray
Pliny mentions the Sting Ray, and ascribes to it marvellous...

Senses Of Fishes
He also tells us about the senses of fishes, and first of t...

Zoophytes
Writing on the lower phases of Marine Animal life, he says:...

Sponges
"We find three kinds of sponges mentioned; the first are th...

The Kraken
This enormous monster, peculiar to the Northern Seas, is sc...

Crayfish And Crabs
Pliny tells us that in the Indian Ocean are Crayfish four c...

The Sea-serpent
Of the antiquity of the belief in the Sea-Serpent there can...

Serpents
Of Serpents Topsell has written a "Historie," which, if not...

The Crocodile
The largest of the Saurians which we have left us, is the C...

The Basilisk And Cockatrice
Aldrovandus portrays the Basilisk with eight legs. Topse...

The Salamander
Many writers have essayed this fabled creature, but almost ...

The Toad
Toads were always considered venomous and spiteful, and the...

The Leech
The Leech has, from a very early age, been used as a means ...

The Scorpion
Of the Scorpion, Pliny says:--"This animal is a dangerous s...

The Ant
No one would credit the industrious Ant, whose ways we are ...

The Bee
The Busy Bee, too, according to Olaus Magnus, developed, in...

The Hornet
So also, up North, they seem to have had a special breed...



The Lamia








The Lamiae are mythological--and were monsters of Africa, with the face
and breast of a woman, the rest of the body like that of a serpent; they
allured strangers, that they might devour them; and though not endowed
with the faculty of speech, their hissings were pleasing. Some believed
them to be evil spirits, who, in the form of beautiful women, enticed
young children, and devoured them; according to some, the fable of the
Lamiae is derived from the amours of Jupiter with a beautiful woman,
Lamia, whom Juno rendered deformed, and whose children she destroyed;
Lamia became insane, and so desperate, that she ate up all the children
which came in her way.

Topsell, before entering upon the natural history of the Lamia, as an
animal, tells the following story of it as a mythological being:--"It
is reported of Menippus the Lycian, that he fell in love with a
strange woman, who at that time seemed both beautifull, tender, and
rich, but, in truth, there was no such thing, and all was but a
fantastical ostentation; she was said to insinuate her selfe, into
his familiaritie after this manner: as he went upon a day alone from
Corinth to Senchraea, hee met with a certaine phantasme, or spectre
like a beautifull woman, who tooke him by the hand, and told him she
was a Phoenician woman, and of long time had loved him dearely,
having sought many occasions to manifest the same, but could never
finde opportunitie untill that day, wherefore she entreated him to
take knowledge of her house, which was in the Suburbes of Corinth,
therewithall pointing unto it with her finger, and so desired his
presence. The young man seeing himselfe thus wooed by a beautiful woman,
was easily overcome by her allurements, and did oftimes frequent her
company.

"There was a certaine wise man, and a Philosopher, which espied the
same, and spake unto Menippus in this manner, 'O formose, et a
formorsis, expetitie mulieribus, ophin thalpies, cai se ophis,' that is
to say, 'O fair Menippus, beloved of beautiful women, art thou a
serpent, and dost nourish a serpent?' by which words he gave him his
first admonition, or incling of a mischiefe; but not prevayling,
Menippus proposed to marry with this spectre, her house to the outward
shew, being richly furnished with all manner of houshold goods; then
said the wise man againe unto Menippus, 'This gold, silver, and
ornaments of house, are like to Tantalus Apples, who are said by
Homer to make a faire shew, but to containe in them no substance at
all; even so, whatsoever you conceave of this riches, there is no matter
or substance in the things which you see, for they are onely inchaunted
images, and shadowes, which that you may beleeve, this your neate bride
is one of the Empusae, called Lamia, or Mormolicae, wonderfull
desirous of commerce with men, and loving their flesh above measure; but
those whom they doe entice, afterwards they devoure without love or
pittie, feeding upon their flesh.' At which words the wise man caused
the gold and silver plate, and household stuffe, cookes, and servants to
vanish all away. Then did the spectre like unto one that wept, entreate
the wise man that he would not torment her, nor yet cause her to
confesse what manner of person she was; but he on the other side being
inexorable, compelled her to declare the whole truth, which was, that
she was a Phairy, and that she purposed to use the companie of
Menippus, and feede him fat with all manner of pleasures, to the
extent that, afterward, she might eate up and devour his body, for all
their kinde love was only to feed upon beautiful yong men....

"To leave therefore these fables, and come to the true description of
the Lamia, we have in hand. In the foure and thirty chapter of Esay,
we do find this called a beast Lilith in the Haebrew, and translated by
the auncients Lamia, which is threatened to possesse Babell.
Likewise in the fourth chapter of the Lamentations, where it is said in
our English translation, that the Dragons lay forth their brests, in
Haebrew they are called Ehannum, which, by the confession of the best
interpreters, cannot signifie Dragons, but rather Sea calves, being a
generall word for strange wilde beasts. How be it the matter being wel
examined, it shall appeare that it must needes be this Lamia, because of
her great breastes, which are not competible either to the Dragon, or
Sea calves; so then, we wil take it for graunted, by the testimony of
holy Scripture, that there is such a beast as this Cristostinius.
Dion also writeth that there are such beasts in some parts of Libia,
having a Woman's face, and very beautifull, also very large and comely
shapes on their breasts, such as cannot be counterfeited by the art of
any painter, having a very excellent colour in their fore parts, without
wings, and no other voice but hissing like Dragons: they are the
swiftest of foote of all earthly beasts, so as none can escape them by
running, for, by their celerity, they compasse their prey of beastes,
and by their fraud they overthrow men. For when they see a man, they lay
open their breastes, and by the beauty thereof, entice them to come
neare to conference, and so, having them within their compasse, they
devoure and kill them.



"Unto the same things subscribe Caelius and Giraldus, adding also,
that there is a certaine crooked place in Libia neare the Sea-shore,
full of sand like to a sandy Sea, and all the neighbor places thereunto
are deserts. If it fortune at any time, that through shipwrack, men come
there on shore, these beasts watch uppon them, devouring them all, which
either endevour to travell on the land, or else to returne backe againe
to Sea, adding also, that when they see a man they stand stone still,
and stir not til he come unto them, looking down upon their breasts or
to the ground, whereupon some have thought, that seeing them, at their
first sight have such a desire to come neare them, that they are drawne
into their compasse, by a certaine naturall magicall witchcraft.... The
hinderparts of the beast are like unto a Goate, his fore legs like a
Beares, his upper parts to a woman, the body scaled all over like a
Dragon, as some have affirmed by the observation of their bodies, when
Probus, the Emperor, brought them forth unto publike spectacle; also
it is reported of them, that they devoure their own young ones, and
therefore they derive their name Lamia, of Lamiando; and thus much
for this beast."





Next: The Centaur

Previous: The Manticora



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