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Fearsome Beasts: My Top 5 Favorite Creatures from Greek & Roman Mythology

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TAMU chapter.

Whether you read Percy Jackson as a kid or loved Disney’s Hercules, Greek and Roman myths have never ceased to amaze and entertain. I remember the first time I got sucked into the Hellenic Pantheon by Rick Riordan with its glamorously capricious gods and their world full of magic, violence, tragedy, heroism, and spectacular creatures. As a result of my unrelenting hyper fixation with Greek and Roman mythology, I have compiled a list of my favorite fierce creatures for you to go down your own rabbit holes.

stymphalian birds

The Stymphalian Birds were man-eating birds with beaks of bronze, sharp metallic feathers they could launch at their victims, and poisonous dung. The birds’ name derives from their residence in a swamp in Stymphalia. These voracious creatures were brought up by the god of war, Ares, or were pets of the hunting goddess, Artemis. They bred very quickly and swarmed over the countryside, terrorizing the people and destroying crops. Hercules defeated the birds in his sixth labor by shooting poison arrows tipped with the poisonous blood from the corpse of his second labor, the Lernaean Hydra.

The Erinyes (furies)

The Erinyes, or Furies in Roman myth, were three goddesses of vengeance and retribution who punished people for crimes against the natural order. They were depicted as ugly, winged women with numerous entwined poisonous serpents across their bodies, wielding whips and wearing huntress garbs or long black robes. They were born from the spilled blood of their father, Ouranos when he was castrated by his son Kronos. They especially focused on punishing unfilial conduct, offenses against the gods, homicide, and perjury. A victim seeking retribution could call upon the curse of the Erinyes against the perpetrator. The most powerful of their curses was the infliction of tormenting madness upon the perpetrator of patricide or matricide because they were born from patricide. Murderers could suffer illness or disease and by extension, a nation harboring such a criminal could also suffer similar misfortune. Further, they served Hades and Persephone in the underworld as the supervisors over the torture of the criminals in the Dungeons of the Damned.

The Gorgons

The Gorgons were composed of three sisters named Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa, whose hair was made of living, venomous snakes, and they could turn anyone into stone just by making eye contact. Medusa was known as the most infamous of her kind. Based on some accounts, Medusa was a beautiful priestess at the Temple of Athena and the god of the seas, Poseidon, raped her. Athena punished her (since she couldn’t punish her mate Poseidon) by turning her into a gorgon. She featured heavily in Perseus’ hero story in which he killed her and used her severed head as a weapon to turn his enemies into stone. After his victory, he gifted the head to Athena who put it on her shield. 


Pegasus was depicted as a white stallion with wings who was regarded as a horse-god as a result of being sired by Poseidon and foaled by Medusa. Pegasus and his brother Chrysaor were both born from their mother’s bloody decapitated head from which a few drops fell into the sea, mixed with the foam and brought them into existence. Pegasus created the fountain on Mount Helicon, named Hippocrene, by striking his hoof into the ground. The water of which if swallowed was supposed to bring forth poetic inspiration, for this reason, it was held sacred by the Muses.

Mares of Diomedes

The Mares of Diomedes (also called Mares of Thrace) were a herd of man-eating horses belonging to the giant Diomedes. The Mares were named Podargos (the swift), Lampon (the shining), Xanthos (the yellow), and Deimos (the terrible). They were the terror of the region of Thrace and were kept fastened by iron chains to a bronze manger. Hercules bested them in his eighth labor by feeding their master, Diomedes, to the Mares and while they were busy eating he bound their mouths shut. Bucephalus, Alexander the Great’s horse, was said to be descended from these mares.

There are countless more fascinating creatures to be found in Greek and Roman mythology and all of them worth knowing!

Bianca Aileen Azuler Honorato is a chapter member at the Her Campus at TAMU chapter. Beyond Her Campus, Azuler is currently a sophomore at Texas A&M University, majoring in English with minors in Art and Science Fiction and Fantasy Studies. In their free time, Azuler enjoys reading paranormal fantasy, decorating cakes, drawing, and watching cake boss with their cats. They're a Shrek aficionado and committed to collecting Sanrio paraphernalia.