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Greek Bestiary: SeaBeasts

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Forums -> Misc Topics -> Greek Bestiary: SeaBeasts

Greek Bestiary: SeaBeasts
By:
Post # 1
This is a bestiary in progress that I am working on putting together. The first mythological beast I wish to expand on are
Sea-Monsters:

Aeschylus, Libation Bearers 585 ff (trans. Weir Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :"Many are the horrors, dread and appalling, bred of earth, and the arms of the deep teem with hateful monsters."

Cetus- meaning Sea-Monster
Belua Ponti- meaning Monsters of the Deep
The Ketea were the monsters of the Sea.
They were depicted as long serpent-like fish with row after row of sharp teeth. Sometimes they were shown having Nereides riding side-saddle on them.They were said to lurk at the very bottom of the water, due to their massive size and presumably heavy figures. Certainly the stories of these near-invincible, deadly beasts scared early sailors and fishermen.


-Skolopendra (Scolopendra):
Translation means 'Millipede'.
Gigantic sea-monsters with hair lining their nostrils at the end of its large snout,flat and long crayfish-like tails and rows of webbed feet lining their flanks. These feet propelled the Skolopendra through the water at amazing speeds, often (supposedly) turning over Greek merchant ships. Many brave men tried to hunt the Skolopendra but it was said to possess the ability to throw out its stomach to rid itself of any hooks, then swallow its stomach and put it back in place.
The Skolopendra is unique in nature, considering it is one of few sea-monsters that did not originate from Poseidon.
The next two, however, were both sea-beasts sent to do his bidding.


The Ketos Troias (translation meaning 'Trojan Sea-Monster') was sent by Poseidon to ravage the land of Troy. Kind Laomedon refused to pay Poseidon for building the city walls. A local oracle prophesied that the king must give up his daughter as a sacrifice to sate the beast. Laomedon, realizing his mistake, chained Hesione to the rocks lining the water. She
was rescued by Herakles and the Ketos Troias was killed with a fish-hook. It is depicted as a large water dragon.

The Ketos Aithiopios (translation meaning 'Monster of the Deep') was another sea-beast sent by Poseidon to ravage Aithiopia.Queen Kassiopeia boasted that her daughter, Andromeda, was more beautiful than the Nereides.Andromeda was chained to the rocks as a sacrifice for the beast. However, Perseus saw the girl and slew the beast- flying away to make her
his bride. It's argued over whether he turned the monster to stone with Medusa's head, which he was carrying back to Greece.
The Ketos Aithiopios is most commonly referred to as 'The Kraken'. Interestingly enough, the 'Kraken' can be found in many other stories- not just Greek. They were said to lurk near Norway/Iceland and drag ships down. Mythology describes them as being many armed, or tentacled, and nearly as tall as mountains. The artwork based off them resembles cephalopoda such as giant squids with hard shells like giant turtles.

Sources:
Aelian, On Animals 13. 23 (trans. Scholfield) (Greek natural history C2nd A.D.)
Pausanias, Description of Greece 4. 35. 9 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.)
Lycophron, Alexandra 951 ff
Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 31

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