L is for Lamia

Lamia (2nd version) by John William Waterhouse
(1909); Note the snakeskin on her lap.

Lamia are half-snake, half-woman vampiristic beings from Greek mythology. They eat children and seduce young men. Unlike Medusa, who has hair of snakes, the lamia usually wears snakeskin along her waist and her right forearm, giving hints of her actual characteristics.

According to the Greek mythology, Queen Lamia of Libya had an affair with Zeus. However, Hera found out and killed the children Lamia had already given birth to. Driven mad by this act, Lamia began eating other children and slowly became hideous and corrupt.

Mothers used to tell their children stories of Lamia to warn them of slowly awakening sexuality and to generally make the children behave. Some also used these stories to explain why certain questionable women, and their male companions, were rarely seen after they had met during the night.

Interesting Tidbits:

  • While both the lamia and Medusa share Greek roots, the lamia is described as more human of the two.
  • In modern stories, Lamia is considered a more remote creature, similar to Baba-Yaga, living in a tower or a house far away from people.
  • Considered magically adept and excelling in deception, lamia were said to have hid among the populace and wreak havoc until finally being hunted down.

Have you heard of the Lamia before? If so, where? Also, is there a mythological being you’re itching to read about? Let me know!

7 Responses to L is for Lamia

  • Wow, those Greeks could really come up with whoppers, couldn't they?! I've never heard of a Lamia. I'm loving these mythological creature posts. I learn something new every day!

  • I hadn't heard of them before but glad I know now. The greek myths are full of interesting creatures and beings.

  • Eeeeeeew! Awesome!!! I love your A-Z theme, and your pics are perfect 🙂 I'm your newest follower 🙂

  • I am a mythology fan. Used to be crazed about it in highshcool.

  • I had not heard of this before! Now … I have been educated!

  • Although I have heard of the Lamia before(I've even read a few fiction books featuring them) I didn't know all the details. Great post!

  • Thanks for commenting everyone!

    Mara, yes, they certainly could! I'm really glad you're enjoying the posts. =) Thanks for stopping by!

    Patricia, Greek mythology is fascinating and diverse with all of the creatures it has. =)

    Jolene, thanks for following! I'm really glad you're enjoying my theme. I agree. The pictures are awesome.

    Wendy, I love mythology too. It was one of my favorites parts of high school as well.

    Margo, I'm glad you stopped by! Thanks for the comment.

    C R, same here. I remembered reading about a Lamia in one of Laurell K. Hamilton's books, but I didn't know all of this. What books did you read with them?

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