Mythical creatures: which ones you should know 

Article written in collaboration with “Eroica Fenice.”

Mythical creatures are often depicted as beings formed from the combination of different animals, or an animal and a human. Certainly, mythological hybrids are a mysterious representation of their originating culture. One example is the phoenix, or the Arabian phoenix, which varies between Egyptian and Greek culture. The Egyptian Bennu, compared to the Greek φοίνιξ, was depicted more like a grey heron, or initially a sparrow, thus far from the red and tropical striations of the Greek royal eagle. Moreover, the Egyptian phoenix did not rise from its ashes, but rather from the waters. Up next, 8 mythical animals, 8 legendary creatures you absolutely must know about.

Mythical Creatures

The Arabian Phoenix

From the tales of Herodotus and Tacitus, it seems that the Epiphany of the phoenix was overlooked, as was the motto: Post fata resurgo (“after death I rise again”). Herodotus wrote that an eagle-like bird with golden and crimson plumage “every five hundred years flew from Arabia to Heliopolis carrying in an egg its father’s body to bury it in the Temple of Ra, the Sun God.”

Tacitus also referred to an eagle that built a nest in Arabia, from which, after five hundred years, another Phoenix would be born that would kill its father by burning him, and then build a new nest elsewhere. These are tales far from the representation of a bird that rises from its ashes and thus aspires to the symbolism of rebirth, including Egyptian. Japanese folklore is certainly not free from mythological and mysterious fascinations. Here too, the phoenix, named Ho-ho or Karura, is a large golden eagle that spits fire with magical gems on its head and symbolizes the arrival of a new era. Among the mythical creatures, this is obviously our favorite.


Folklore itself contains more diverse and chilling figures taken from Greek myth and reworked. Cerberus, for example, is a mythological monster, the offspring of Typhon and Echidna, depicted with three heads and snakes on its hairless skin, which hiss frightfully with every bark. The beast is the guardian of the Underworld, tasked with blocking the living’s access and denying the dead their escape. Indeed, in the sixth book of the Aeneid, Cerberus opposes Aeneas’ descent into the Underworld and is calmed by Sibyl with a honey cake soaked in soporific herbs.

Another famous reference is in the sixth canto of Dante’s Inferno, where Cerberus, located in the Third Circle of the gluttonous, flays the damned with its claws. The three heads allegorically represent the three signs of the vice of gluttony.


Dante also places Medusa among the demons guarding the city of Dis in the ninth canto of the Inferno, summoned by the three Furies to petrify Dante. Medusa, with Stheno and Euryale, is one of the three Gorgons, daughters of Phorcys and Ceto, sea deities. The woman and her sisters, in fact, in the most ancient culture, were depicted as horrendous figures, with round heads and serpentine hair, wide mouths, beastly fangs, bronze hands, and sometimes a short beard. Only later were they depicted as beautiful women. The Gorgons’ ability is to petrify the unfortunate with a gaze.

Japanese Folklore: The Futakuchi-onna

Now let’s move on to the mythical creatures of the Japanese tradition. The serpentine aspect also characterizes the futakuchi-onna (“two-mouthed woman”), in Japanese folklore, a stepmother who let her stepson starve to death, only feeding her own children. It is said that one day, a woodsman accidentally broke his axe, which struck the woman on the back of the neck. This allowed the stepson’s spirit to enter the stepmother’s body, generating from the wound a ravenous mouth that needed constant feeding. Here the stepson repeated to the woman to ask for forgiveness for her sin. This is why the futakuchi-onna is depicted with two mouths, one on the face and the other at the back of the neck, which opens showing lips, teeth, and tongue hidden by serpentine hair that must bring food to the mouth.

The Nure-onna

Also, the nure-onna (“wet woman”), still from Japanese folklore, is a yokai with a draconic or amphibian appearance depicted with the body of a snake and the head of a woman. It is传说ed that at night, pretending to drown, she attracts men by showing only the beauty of her face and her long hair on the water, so as to drag men to the bottom of the sea. In various versions of the myth, in one it is told that the nure-onna, once she finds her prey, emerges from the water and paralyzes him with her gaze, so as to drag him into the water to devour him, sucking his blood with her snake teeth.

The Lamia and Other Mythical Creatures

In Greek mythology, the lamia has a capacity similar to the nure-onna. The vampirism of the lamia, half woman and half beast, in fact, arose from the jealousy of Hera, wife of Zeus. Lamia, queen of Libya and daughter of Belus, had captured Zeus’ heart, and to avenge herself, Hera had all her children killed. Only Scylla, a sea monster of Greek culture, survived the massacre. From this episode, Lamia began to devour all other mothers’ children, sucking their blood before swallowing them.

This explains the Aristophanean definition related to the term “esophagus.” The lamias, like the harpies, the maenads, and the empuses, are female creatures that devour children and to whom maternity has been denied: “Let the things that are invented to delight be believable; no tale can pretend to be believed in everything it wants: it is absurd that the witch Lamia gives birth alive to the child she has eaten.” (Horace, Ars Poetica, vv 338-340).

Unicorn, The Most Colorful Among Mythical Creatures

The legend of the unicorn is an ancient myth that describes a mythical animal with a horn on its forehead. According to legend, the unicorn was a rare and legendary animal, with a magical horn that had the power to heal diseases and purify water. The unicorn was also described as a very strong and fast animal, with a golden mane and a luminous tail. It was often depicted as a white horse with a horn on its forehead, but it could also take the form of other animals, such as a deer or a gazelle. The unicorn could only be captured by a virgin, making it even more precious and legendary. In popular culture, the unicorn is often depicted as a symbol of purity, innocence, and beauty, and is often used as a decorative motif in art, fashion, and design.


The griffin is a legendary creature, a mythological animal present in several ancient cultures. In Greek mythology, the griffin is an animal with the body of a lion and the wings of an eagle. It is often described as a fierce and fearsome creature and is depicted as a symbol of strength and power. In Egyptian mythology, the griffin is a winged creature that represents protection and security. In Celtic culture, the griffin is often associated with wisdom and knowledge. In some traditions, the griffin is also considered a symbol of purity and incorruptibility.

Mythical creatures? Now you know the most important ones!

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