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Monsters of Greco-Roman Myth Essay

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Monsters of Greco-Roman Myth

To have a hero there must be a monster to vanquish. Monsters in Greco-Roman mythology are often portrayed as: irrational, nearly impossible to communicate with, often a compound of animal parts or some form of mutation, and are set upon human destruction. “Monsters in the language of mythology were beings of unnatural proportions or parts, usually regarded with terror, as possessing immense strength and ferocity, which they employed for the injury and annoyance of men” (Bullfinch Pg. 143). Mythological monsters are a way for man to explain what he doesn’t understand. They are an attempt to explain ‘why’ to things such as: storms, droughts and other unseasonable weather, unexplained deaths, birth defects, disease, and mental illness. Generally those are associated with fear, and nothing is more fearsome than a monster. Yet, on the other hand, is hope. Man’s need to remain hopeful gives cause to the creation of heroes. Monsters are essential to the existence of heroes. “[…] the mythical monster is present in any number of shapes - Gorgons and Hydras and Chimaeras dire - but they are there only to give the hero his meed of glory” (Hamilton 12). Without a great foe, there’s no need for the greater good. “Myth provides us with absolutes in the place of ephemeral values and with a comforting perception of the world that is necessary to make the insecurity and terror of existence bearable” (Morford 4).
It was common for cultures that overthrew others to convert the important deities of those they vanquished into monstrous figures. Monsters of Greco-Roman mythology tend to appear similar to Egyptian, Sumerian, Babylonian, and other early Eastern deities. “Greco-Roman monsters are like Babylonian...


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...of wind” (Hamilton 185) to vanquish another evil monster, the Chimaera. Unlike the malevolent monsters that are composed of creatures, in and of themselves are dangerous to man (i.e. lions, serpents, wolves, rams, raptors). Centaurs and Pegasus are the noble steeds to man.  



Works Cited
Books:
Books by single author:
Bullfinch, Thomas. Myths of Greece and Rome
New York: Penguin Books, 1979. Print.
Hamilton, Edith. Mythology
New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1942. Print.
Rosenberg, Donna. World Mythology
Lincoln wood, Illinois: NTC Publishing Group, 1999. Print.
Morford, Mark. P.O. and Robert J. Lenardon. Classical Mythology
New York: Oxford University Press, Inc. 2003. Print.

Hesiod. Works and Days of Theogony
Translated by Stanley Lambardo. Quote from Robert Lamberton Introduction.
Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1993. Print.


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