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Lamia - Mythical Monsters
1150    Dibyendu Banerjee    24/09/2020

Lamia, the daughter of Poseidon and Lybie, was the queen of Libya and was considered one of the most beautiful women in the world. In some other version of the Greek mythology, she was depicted as the daughter of King Belus of Egypt and Lybie,  who may have even been the mother of her husband,  and thus Lamia was the unfortunate offspring of an incestuous relationship. Nevertheless, all the ancient authors described Lamia as a queen of surpassing beauty, and it was also said that she was one of the favourite lovers of Zeus, the king of the gods.

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Although he was married to Hera, the queen of the gods, Zeus was known to be a womanizer and had many mistresses, much to the displeasure of Hera. Her jealous streak was legendary, and she seemed to be delighted in causing pain, miseries and distress to her victims. As Zeus was charmed by the magnetic beauty of Lamia and could not restrain himself to immediately start an affair with her, Hera soon came to know about it and it sparked her jealous streak. However, this time Hera’s hatred went the furthest as Lamia slept with her husband. To teach her a lesson of her life, she destroyed her children and inflicted her with sleeplessness so that she would anguish constantly. However, in his attempt to help Lamia in her distress, Zeus secretly gifted Lamia her removable eyes, so that she can take her eyes out and in from her eye sockets.

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According to another version of the story, Hera inflicted upon Lamia temporary insanity during which she killed her children. However, how the beautiful Lamia became a monster is not very clear. It is said that she became insane when he lost her children. Weighed down by her misfortune, she became jealous of all the women with their child and began snatching new-born babies from their mothers' arms, brought them to her cave to devour them head to toe.

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The savagery of Lamia’s heart was so great that, in time, her face turned into a nightmarish mask and she turned into the dreaded monster. She became so much obsessed with baby-snatching that she did not want to get any rest from it and swore to bereave all mothers of their children, just as she had been once by Hera.

lamia

In some ancient tales, Lamia was depicted as an ugly woman with a crazed look on her face or a frightening monster, thirsty for children’s blood. However, she was commonly depicted as a half-woman, half-snake creature with breasts and head of a woman and the tail of a serpent. Lamia was notorious for being a vampiric spirit. It was also believed that she had a vicious sexual appetite that matched her cannibalistic appetite for children and also loved sucking men’s blood. She seduced youths to satisfy her sexual appetite and fed on their flesh afterwards. However, many believe that Lamia was just a fictitious character, and her story was used by the mothers as a cautionary tale to frighten their children for proper behaviour.

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Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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