Legend of Lamia

According to legend, there were some creatures that stalked the Grecian night, terrifying sleepers and harming them as they rested. Such a creature was the Lamia, who usually killed small children and attacked sleeping men. Lamia had her origins in Classical Greek folklore and legend. Some accounts say she has a serpent's tail below the waist. This popular description of her is largely due to a poem by John Keats composed in 1819 entitled "Lamia". The Greek word lamia means dangerous lone-shark. Such sharks were also referred to as ketea (sea-monsters). As such it is likely that she was identified with the monstrous sea-goddess Keto. Both Lamia (Lone-Shark) and Keto (Sea-Monster) were said to have spawned the monster Skylla (the Rending One). Another child of Lamia was the boy Akheilos (the Lipless One) who was transformed into a shark by the goddess Aphrodite.

Ilustration of Lamia

Later traditions referred to many lamiae; these were folkloric monsters similar to vampires and succubi that seduced young men and then fed on their blood. She was, according to tradition, the daughter of Belus and Libya and was a beautiful queen of the Libyan country. She was in fact so beautiful that the god Zeus fell in love with her and visited her nightly. She bore him a number of children, angering Zeus’s wife, the goddess Hera. In anger Hera slew all her children, driving Lamia mad and sending her to live in the caves of the desert. Soon her fabled beauty had drained away and she became an old and monstrous woman who preyed on small children, in retaliation for the loss of her own. Under cover of darkness she travelled between the Greek houses, killing whatever infants she could find and devouring their flesh. She had become almost similar to a wild animal and the mere mention of her name struck terror into the heart of every mother.

The Lamia attacked the old who were unlikely to defend themselves and, in the guise of a beautiful woman (which she was magically able to generate), she copulated with men as they slept. It was said, she was actually fuelled by unholy lusts. She drew the semen and bodily fluids, upon which she subsisted, from male sleepers, leaving them tired and exhausted in the morning.

Encyclopedia of the Undead: "A Field Guide to the Creatures that Cannot Rest In Peace" by DR. Bob Curran;

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