Darkness spreads its wings across the heavens blotting out the setting sun. Thunder rolls in the distance announcing the oncoming storm as the wind rises, thrashing a stately oak tree.
The perfect introduction to a scary story or movie.
We have all heard of Count Dracula or Vlad the Impaler. The Transylvanian character, imagined by Bram Stoker and penned into one of the greatest horror stories ever. There have been countless movies created about our bloodsucking antihero.
However, not too many people know about his female counterpart Lamia or the plural Lamiae which are female vampires. According to ancient Greek myth, the Lamiae are beauteous women who feast on men and unfortunately, children as well.
Once upon a time in ancient Greece when the gods ruled the heavens, the ever unfaithful Zeus had an affair with Lamia. She was a Libyan queen who became one of Zeus's many mistresses. Until one fateful day, Hera, who is wife and sister to Zeus, discovered the affair and flew into such a rage that she murdered Lamia’s children. Hera has a history of spiteful acts of revenge, and there are other stories about Hercules and Perseus, who had human mothers too. Hera tried to them and their mothers as well.
In Lamia's case, her grief took the form of revenge on other children. Since her children were dead, then no other child could live, and men could no longer father children. With that in mind, she attacked men and children, sucking their life-giving blood until they died from blood loss.
What's fascinating about this myth is that there is no factual evidence of such a creature existing. Yet, this myth started over two thousand years ago and is still told today.
Whereas, Dracula is an actual character named Vlad, the Impaler who was trying to protect his people fought the Turks invasion into his country. The count wielded impalement as a psychological weapon to instill such fear into the Turkish soldiers that they would withdraw from Transylvania in fear. The problem was that it worked so well that Matthias I of Hungary imprisoned Vlad after the Turks withdrew from Walachia. Many scholars thought that Stoker got his inspiration for Dracula from Vlad III Dracula.
In Lamia's case, There is only a small paragraph that briefly describes who Lamia was and no evidence that she was a real queen from Libya. Just that a vengeful Hera murdered her children. Then through grief and revenge of her own, Lamia physically transformed into the monster she had become when killing hapless men and helpless children.
I can only imagine how Lamia felt discovering her murdered children. They were only innocents in this tragic tale of murder and betrayal. Zeus helped his other human children, Hercules and Perseus when Hera went on the warpath against them and their mothers. It makes you wonder why Zeus didn't intervene with Lamia and her children. Where was Zeus while Hera was killing his children?
It turns out that there is more than one version of the myth. Another version is that instead of killing Lamia's children, Hera stole them. Lamia went mad with grief and attacked men and children. Slowly transforming physically into the monster her madness created.
Hera didn't actually kill Lamia's children, and they went onto becoming legends themselves.
Scylla is a famous sea monster in Greek myths, although some versions have Scylla as the daughter of Phorcys not Zeus. In Greek mythology, Phorcys is a sea god. He is considered to be Poseidon's equivalent, who is Zeus's brother.
Her son, Acheilus, grew up to be one of the most beautiful human men in mythology, but unfortunately, his good looks went to his head. He stupidly challenged Aphrodite to a beauty contest. Aphrodite better known in mythology as the Goddess of Love and supposedly the most beautiful of all the Gods was not a happy camper having that reputation challenged by a mere human. Aphrodite responded by turning Acheilus into an ugly shark daemon.
Lamia's final child Herophile escaped Hera's wrath and became the first Sibyls of Delphi. Apollo who is Hera's younger brother, created Delphi as an Oracle for the royalty. The Sibyls were the vehicles used to relay Apollo's divine messages.
In some narratives, the Lamiae are related to the Succubi. The Succubi are daemons that can transform themselves into either men or women, depending on the situation. Legend has them as being sexual demons that suck their lover's energy while having sex, eventually killing their lovers.
No matter the version, the Lamiae is a fascinating legend and can easily translate into a modern-day boogeyman.
So, late at night when you are all alone and you hear the creaking of the stairs as something unseen to the eye walks down the steps. Then feel a light breeze ruffle your hair and the touch of a finger trailing bare skin, but see nothing as you search all the dark nooks and crannies. Your eyes wide with fright trying to find what is taunting you.
It could very well be the Lamia, but then who can you call for help?
Good question as there is nothing written that tells one how to destroy a Lamia or Lamiae.
Let's hope then that these female vampires are just myths.