Top 10 Mythical Creatures
As if there wasn’t already a plentiful plethora of creatures available for the perusal and scrutiny of always curious humanity- a fair few have been fabricated in the past that, to be fair- totally trump most known ‘real’ species. From flying horses to hysteric women with snakes for hair, it’d appear we have a gift for myth. That was terrible, my apologies.
Mentioned originally in Job 40:15-24, the Behemoth is a creature said to be the ‘primal unconquerable monster of the land’ in later Jewish writings. The word itself still holds a place in language today, as a verb used to describe that of huge or vast size and power. With this alone, it’s far from hard to fathom the nature of the beast- described as the demon of lust and gluttony in some texts- the Behemoth is known for its huge razor sharp teeth and claws.
Emerging from an Ancient Egyptian myth, the Phoenix is a majestic bird with a close relation to fire. Typically portrayed as possessing gold and red feathers, it is said that a Phoenix is not only born of fire but subsequently chooses to end its 500-1461 year lifespan in the same fashion- constructing a nest which it then goes on to ignite. Once destroyed a young Phoenix will then rise from the embers- or so it is written.
Known for his unmistakable characteristics and physical appearance, the Minotaur comes from Greek mythology and is said to possess the upper body of a bull and the lower body of a man. He dwelled in the centre of a huge labyrinth build especially for him by King Minos of Crete and is said to have been killed by Theseus, the founder King of Athens.
Another Ancient Greek myth, the Centaurs were a race said to possess attributes akin to both man and horse. This mix caused much inner conflict, with a human half desiring to act in a way cultured doing combat on a frequent basis with the uninterested animal instincts of rowdiness, violence, booze intake and other miscellaneous primal urges. To be honest, I think they sound like a cool bunch.
The seas equivalent of the Behemoth, the Leviathans roots too lie in biblical scriptures. A beast of unfathomable size, the Leviathan was said to possess glowing, intensely cryptic eyes and an annoying habit for causing much havoc upon the sailors of its day. Though mentioned in the Old Testament, it is unclear whether the beast was created by God or Satan.
The classic character on this list, dragons have had a place in popular mythology for a very, very long time. Extending back at least 4,000 years, the history of the dragon is one most vibrant and poetic. The beasts still hold much prominence in cultures all over the world today, most notably in China- where they are a symbol of heroism and are denoted as protectors of the just and noble. Pretty cool stuff.
Yet another Greek incarnation, Pegasus was said to be the son of Poseidon, God of the seas and the snake haired monster Medusa. Portrayed commonly as a stunning winged horse- there are numerous interpretation of Pegasus’ birth. Whilst there are several depictions in relation to his birth, the one that documents him springing from Medusa’s neck upon the severance of her head at the hands of the great hero Perseus, is most definitely my favorite. Pegasus has been depicted in countless works of art over the century and even has his own constellation, gifted by Zeus after his death.
A multi-headed serpent like creature, Hydras possessed a deadly poison and a taste for man-flesh. Holding their roots largely in Greek mythology- the most famous of their kind was known only as the ‘Hydra of Lerna’, unsurprisingly due to his choice of home- the Lernaean region of Greece, more particularly the vast marshlands contained therein. The reason for this Hydras fame was his death at the hands of the great hero Hercules. Legend has it that Hercules was able to defeat the beast by devising a technique which involved cauterizing the stump after severing the head- a process which disallowed its regrowth.
As a symbol of purity, freedom and goodness almost universally across many of the world’s cultures- Unicorns are enchanting creatures that resemble horses, only with a large spiralled horn atop their heads. According to legend, unicorns can only be captured by maidens alone in the forest. Unlike most mythical animals, which tend to be based on humanity’s deepest fears, most unicorn tales convey an animal that is quite gentle and good. Unicorn lore dates back several thousand years, and occasional “sightings” are still being reported today.
Today’s top spot goes to the Cyclopes, the famous one eyed dudes who enjoy a rather large reputation thanks to their several differing portrayals throughout history. Once again finding their roots in Greek history, the Cyclopes (plural for Cyclops) were later interpreted in Roman mythology in much the same vein. Covered in the works of Hesiod, Callimachus, Theocritus and Euripides to (literally) name but a few- there are many tales attributed with this not-quite-as-ghastly-as-some-of-the-others creature.