Most movie lovers are familiar with the standard gods, demigods and monsters from Greek mythology. Writers like Homer and Hesiod once told stories of these characters through epic poems, but now modern audiences hear these tales in theaters. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, Immortals, Clash of the Titans and Wrath of the Titans all draw heavily from Greek mythology – using it as the main source for their stories.
While it is refreshing to see Wrath of the Titans (read Our Review) introducing audiences to several new creatures – including the Chimera, Makhai and the Titan Kronos – Greek mythology has hundreds of characters. We’ve sifted through a good portion of that mythology and found 10 obscure gods and monsters we think would look Hollywood should consider for their next swords and sandals film.
Ichthyocentaurs were a couple of badass sea-god brothers named Bythos and Aphros whose parents were the mighty Poseidon and the sea goddess Amphitrite. These guardians of the sea are described as being part man, part horse, part fish, with lobster claws for horns on their head. Little is known about their purpose, but legend tells they carried the defeated companions of the god King Dionysus back to the sea.
Image Credit – EvilInstinct
Kerberos, sometimes called Cerberus, was a fearsome looking hellhound that guarded the gates of Hades. Its only purpose was to prevent damned souls trapped in the underworld from escaping. Kerberos is believed to be the offspring of the goddess Echidna and the fire-breathing primordial giant, Typhon.
It is described as a three-headed dog with a mane of serpent heads, a snake for a tail, and the lion claws extending from his paws. As the final task assigned him by King Eurystheus, Hercules had to capture Kerberos alive without using any weapons.
Image credit – Vyrilien
Echidna was an immortal goddess who was part beautiful woman and part fearsome snake. She is said to have given birth to most of the monsters in Greek mythology, earning her the appropriate nickname “Mother of All Monsters”.
There seems to be some question as to her own lineage, as some Greek writers think Tartarus and Gaia raised her, and others think she was the offspring of Peiras and Styx. Regardless, after she and Typhon attacked the Olympians, Zeus mercifully spared her life, deciding to instead leave her as a challenge for future heroes – that is, until she was killed in her sleep.
Image credit – Sarapsys
When Jason and the Argonauts set out on a quest given to them by King Pelias to acquire the Golden Fleece, they had to first defeat the deadly Colchian Dragon. It is described as a giant serpent with three tongues and a long crest going down its back. Like Kerberos, it too was the offspring of Echidna and Typhon.
Once a beautiful nymph, Scylla was turned into a hideous sea monster when the sea-god Glaucus placed a curse on her for not returning his love. She is described as having four eyes and six long necks, to which gruesome heads were attached, each having three rows of sharp teeth.
Her body wasn’t any prettier as she had twelve octopus-like legs, the tail of a cat, and around her waist were the ferocious biting heads of six wolves. She lived in a channel between a mountain side and the city Charybdis, and anytime an unfortunate ship would cross her domain each of her heads would eat a crew member.
In both the original and the remake of Clash of the Titans, Perseus fought scorpions which were created when blood from Medusa’s head dripped onto the sand – but in Greek mythology what actually appeared was called Amphisbaena.
It was an odd-looking, but dangerous, double-headed serpent creature that feasted on an even odder diet of desert ants and the corpses of men. The deadly and poisonous beast traveled by grabbing its head/tail in its mouth and rolling along the desert like a hoop.
Phorcys, like his siblings Cronus and Rhea, was one of the primordial gods from Greek mythology and ruled in the oceans. Depending on who you ask, his parents were either Oceanus and Tethys or Pontus and Gaia.
He is described as a merman with crab-claw front legs and red-spiked skin. He took Ceto as his wife and together they had several monstrous children: Skylla (a crab-like monster), Thoosa, Ladon (a hundred-headed sea-serpent), Ekhidna (a she-dragon viper), the Graeae spirits of the sea-foam and the Gorgones sisters, Medusa, Stheno, and Euryale.
If you are walking through the desert, spot what appears to be food sticking out from under the sand, and go to retrieve it, then chances are you’re about to be eaten by a Cerastes. This Greek mythological beast is described as a vicious, spineless, snake-like creature that has a set of ram-like horns on its head, which it buries in the sand to appear like food and lure its prey. When the prey gets within range, the Cerastes springs forth from hiding and kills it.
Image credit – Bill French
The Ophiotaurus was part black bull, part sea serpent and very dangerous. Greek legend has it that if someone was to burn the entrails of the Ophiotaurus, then they would be granted the power to defeat the gods. This explains why Zeus had an eagle snatch them up before Briareus – a hundred-handed giant and ally to the Titans – could complete the ritual after killing it.
Image credit – New Big Dragon Games Unlimited
The ancient Greek creature Hippalectryon was said to have a body that was half horse and half bird. The front half had the head of a horse, but the rear was made up from the wings, tail and legs of either a rooster, giant vulture or eagle. This strange-looking animal, much like Pegasus, could be tamed and ridden – though not many people chose to do so.
Image credit – Frank Palmarti
There are literally hundreds of gods and monsters we didn’t put on this list that are just as worthy to share a movie screen with some of Hollywood’s finest actors. Is there a favorite you would like to see come to life?
To get your fill of mythological creatures on the big screen, check out Wrath of the Titans – and be sure to read our official review.