Monday, February 4, 2013

The Lamia

The Lamia (plural Lamiae) is an ancient Greek demon with the upper body of a gorgeous woman and the lower body of a serpent. Perceived by others as an archaic predecessor of the Vampire, she was originally the Queen of Libya (some say a princess), the daughter of Belus and Libya, and was said to be extremely beautiful. This did not go unnoticed by Zeus, the king of the Greek pantheon. He went to her, seduced her, and made love to her. Eventually, Lamia gave birth to Zeus’s children. Zeus’s wife, Hera, soon found out about her husband’s one-night tryst with the Queen. Notorious for being jealous of Zeus’s sexual escapades, she exacted a grisly revenge on Lamia. Some accounts say that she forced the Queen to devour her own children, while others say that Hera herself killed the children. In some versions of the legend, Hera spared only one child: Scylla, whom she transformed into a vicious six-headed reptilian monster. This act of jealous, wanton cruelty drove Lamia absolutely insane. In a fit of vengeful torment, Lamia swore to take her revenge on children, their mothers, and men alike by slaughtering them and consuming their warm blood. Eventually, the former Queen began to change in shocking ways. Her actions caused her body to twist and warp itself, gradually becoming a blood-drinking monster, half snake and half woman. Other myths say that when Zeus took Lamia as his mistress, he hid her away in a remote cave in Africa. Still, Hera eventually found her and not only murdered her children, but transformed Lamia into her monstrous form. In her embitterment, she formed an alliance with the evil children of Hecate (the goddess of witches and the crossroads), the Empusae. The Empusae are hideous nocturnal hags that take the form of beautiful women to seduce young men. Once an Empusa had her victim, she would suck the lifeforce from him until he died and naught but a withered corpse remained. But regardless of how it happened, Lamia has hated the human race with a passion ever since that fateful day.

The Lamia is a unique species of demon. She has the long tail of a serpent, fingers tipped with wickedly sharp talons, and a mouthful of long, daggerlike teeth. She is a shapeshifter, able to assume the forms of various types of birds, which enables her to soar through the air while hunting for suitable prey. Stories also tell of her being able to take a wholly human form, usually that of a voluptuous and beautiful woman. She has a supernatural degree of strength and speed, and the reptilian scales covering her body make it difficult to wound her. Since she is part snake, it is likely that her bite carries a potent venom (although this is purely speculation). None of the ancient texts relate as to how this demoness may be slain (although decapitation and burning the body are good bets). It is said that, as a gift for her favors, Zeus granted her the ability to remove and replace her own eyes at will (which is said to be symbolic of prophecy, or “second sight”). When she sleeps, Lamia removes her eyes so that she may see any attempt at an ambush or attack and react accordingly. However, she is truly vulnerable in this state. As for a dwelling place, the Lamia favors dark, dank places (like caves). By night, she prowls human settlements in search of her favorite prey: sleeping babies. Once she found them, she would steal them from their cradles and take them back to her lair, where she would drink their blood.

The Lamia’s favored method of attack is to tear out the intestines, consume the flesh, and drain the victim’s blood. If her prey is a woman, she will suck out any milk. To that end, she often seeks out pregnant victims so that she may kill both the mother and her unborn child at the same time. Lamia’s voracious appetite justified her name, which is derived from the Greek word lamyros, which means “gluttonous.” However, women and children aren’t the only ones at risk. The Lamia loves to lure men into a lonely place for a tryst, seduce them, and make love with them. Then, just when her victim reaches orgasm, she tears out his throat and gulps down the spurting blood. She is a sexual predator as well as being a cannibal and a Vampire, and is an extremely dangerous foe. To this day, it is said that children still greatly fear her as a sort of bogeywoman. The Lamia is most definitely not a monster to be trifled with.


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