Monstrous Mondays – Erinyes, also called Eumenides

-by Gabrielle Friesen, student staff

The Furies were born of the blood of Ouranos, god of the sky, husband to the goddess Gaea. Gaea had borne multiple children, all monstrous – the twelve Titans, the three hundred armed giants the Hekatonkheires, and the Cyclopes. Ouranos hated his children, the Hekatonkheires, and had them imprisoned, in some versions, pushing the Hekatonkheires back into Gaea’s womb as they are born, to Gaea’s fury and despair. Gaea called upon her children to help her, but only Cronus, one of the Titans, answered her. He set a trap for his father, and castrated him, casting the severed testicles into the sea. The froth and foam caused by the testicles landing in the ocean gave birth to the goddess Aphrodite. From the specks of blood that fell upon the earth were born more monstrous children. The Giants, the ash-tree nymphs called the Meliae, and the avenging Furies called the Eryines were born from the spilt blood. Cronus then came to rule in his father’s place, until he too was deposed for his cruelty by his own son Zeus. During his rule, he re-imprisoned the Hekatonkheires and Cyclopes, but could not contain his new monstrous brethren. The Furies were left to walk upon the earth, punishing mortals who broke oaths and laws.

"Orestes wird von den Furien verfolgt" (Orestes Pursued by the Furies) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau)

“Orestes wird von den Furien verfolgt” (Orestes Pursued by the Furies) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau)

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Monstrous Mondays – The Sirens

-by Gabrielle Friesen, student staff

(portions of this post were originally from a paper written for the class “Heroines and Heroic Traditions” in October, 2011)

The Sirens are some of the most famous monsters from Greek mythology, luring sailors to their death with song. Popularly depicted as beautiful women, sometimes mermaids, on an island, their original forms were slightly more monstrous. The sirens were among the hybrid monsters, crosses between animals and women, and were often depicted as either birds with the heads of women, or women with half-formed wings and bird feet. Their most famed appearance is in the Odyssey, attempting to lure Odysseus and his crew to their deaths with their song, crashing against the rocks of their island.

John William Waterhouse, Ulysses and the Sirens, 1891

John William Waterhouse, Ulysses and the Sirens, 1891

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Monstrous Mondays – The Amphisbaena Serpent

by Gabrielle Friesen, student staff

A two-headed serpent, with one head at the end of it’s tail, born from the blood of Medusa after she was slain, part of the tradition of monster blood begetting more monsters. It was born in Libya (although ancient texts often used Libya to refer to all of Africa) as Perseus flew over it on Pegasus, and blood dripped from the head he was clutching. The Serpent is also called the Mother of Ants, although because she eats them, not gives birth to them. When Cato the Younger’s army marched through Libya, during the Roman civil war against Caesar they supposedly encountered the serpent, which fed on the corpses the army left behind.

“The Amphisbaina (Amphisbaena) is a snake with two head, one at the top and one in the direction of the tail. When it advances, as need for a forward movement impels it, it leaves one end behind to serve as tail, while the other it uses as a head. Then again if it wants to move backwards, it uses the two heads in exactly the opposite manner from what it did before.” (Aelian, On Animals 9. 23)

Amphisbaena

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Monstrous Mondays – Hel

-by Gabrielle Friesen, student staff

“Eljudnir [Rain-damp] is the name of her hall, Hunger her plate, Starving her knife, Ganglati her serving boy, Ganglöt her serving woman, Stumbling-Block the threshold that leads in, Kör [Sick-bed] her bed, her curtains Blíkjandaböl [Pale-misforune] her bedhangings. She is half dark blue and half flesh-colored. For this reason she is easily recognized and rather stooping but fierce” John Lindow, “Norse Mythology,” 172). Goddess of the Norse underworld, Hel reigns over the associates of death – disease, starvation – and has been interpreted by some to exist in a physical duality, one side of her dark with death, similar to a corpse whose skin has become purple or black with the release of gas from intestinal bacteria during putrefaction, the other half of her still alive and healthy.

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Monstrous Mondays – Skadi

-by Gabrielle Friesen

Not a monster of the tooth and claw variety, the Norse goddess Skaði nonetheless can be counted among the monstrous. Skadi is the goddess associated with skiing, snowshoeing, winter, frost, and bow hunting. She is also a giantess. In Norse mythology, giants are the enemies of the Æsir, the deities of the Norse pantheon, and thus of humanity and the human realm. The majority of the myths involving Thor feature him slaying at least one giant, feats which were often referred to and bragged about in other stories. Giants were a monstrous figure often symbolizing the Other or the foreigner, encountered with even more frequency than normal by Thor and Loki in their travels to the east. Male giants were hideous, while their female counterparts could be attractive enough to get the attention of the male Æsir, such as Thor and Odin (sometimes consensually and sometimes not). However, a prolonged affair with a giantess was a mockable offense, as was being descended from a giant. Giants existed as the acceptable targets of Norse mythology, the monstrous foreign Other, either to be slain or slept with and sometimes both.

But not Skadi.

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Monstrous Mondays – Scylla and Charybdis

-by Gabrielle Friesen, student staff

I’m starting off this series with two of my personal favorites (even though most monster ladies are my favorites, who am I kidding?): Scylla and Charybdis. Ancient Greek monsters, they appear in Homer’s Odyssey and are a pretty spectacular duo. Scylla is a multi-headed woman monster living in caves on a cliff side, sometimes depicted as having multiple writhing dogs for a lower half. Body positivity right there. Charybdis is her counterpart, a whirlpool opposite Scylla’s cliff face, who prefers she, her, and hers.

 

source unknown

Source unknown

 

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