BEASTS OF LEGEND

Wings And Horns! The 10 Most Scary Mythological Creatures And Monsters


Published on April 19, 2024


Credit: Alyzah K

What was your room like when you were a little kid? Do you remember fearing that monster lurking under the bed or inside the closet, waiting for the light to fade? Don't worry, you're not alone. Since ancient times, humans have conceived and perpetuated myths and stories about supernatural beings, monsters, or creatures with terrifying physical attributes and shocking powers dwelling in the remote corners of our world.

Steel yourself and come with us to learn about these 10 terrifying mythical creatures of history! Are you brave enough to meet them?

1

Loch Ness Monster

Credit: Ramon Vloon

Even before earning the nickname " Nessie ," the legendary creature from Loch Ness has appeared in countless tales from Scottish mythology.

The story of the Loch Ness monster can be traced back to ancient times , with the earliest written mention dating back to the 7th century.

The myth gained widespread popularity in the early 20th century when some defining features of the monster emerged, such as its immense size and long, dinosaur-like neck. To this day, brave adventurers still dare to explore the waters of Loch Ness in Scotland in the hope of encountering this elusive creature.

2

Bashe

Credit: David Clode

This is one of the most feared monsters in Chinese mythology. Once you discover the qualities of this beast, the reasons behind its scary reputation won't be a mystery.

The origins of this legendary creature go back to ancient Chinese texts dating as far back as the 5th to 3rd centuries B.C. Bashe is described as a giant serpent blending the features of a dragon and a python , renowned for its insatiable appetite for elephants , devouring them whole after chasing them.

But the nightmare doesn't end there. Legend has it that after three years of feasting, the Bashe regurgitates the bones of its prey. Creepy detail!

3

Cerberus

Credit: Yaopey Yong

In Greek mythology , Cerberus stands as one of the most renowned creatures. As the watchdog of the underworld, Cerberus's duty was to prevent the escape of souls and to stop any living mortal attempting to cross the gates of Hades' realm.

But Cerberus is no ordinary dog. Described in ancient Greek texts dating back to the 7th and 8th centuries B.C., Cerberus is a colossal hound with three ferocious heads , and snakes growing out of his back. While accounts vary, some sources, like Hesiod's Theogony , even attribute the impressive amount of fifty heads to this not-so-friendly dog.

4

Namazu

Credit: Jakob Owens

Have you ever experienced that chilling sensation when something touches your leg in a river or ocean? Terror! Now, imagine what roams beneath the water's surface is a colossal fish capable of stirring the very earth with a flick of its tail.

In Japanese mythology, this creature is known as Namazu , a giant catfish dwelling beneath the islands of Japan, wielding the power to cause earthquakes . As you can guess, this myth is deeply linked to the usual seismic activity in Japan.

5

Griffin

Credit: Alexas_Fotos

The Griffin is a beast with the head and claws of the majestic eagle combined with the body and tail of the powerful lion . A good fusion of two revered symbols of strength and nobility.

This creature was venerated, embodying power, prestige, and protection. But tread carefully, provoking its anger was a risky venture few dared to attempt.

While Griffins can also be found in artistic representations from Ancient Greece and Rome, evidence reveals early depictions of these beasts in the ancient lands of Egypt, back to the 2nd millennium BC.

6

Sirens

Credit: K. Mitch Hodge

When it comes to unique combinations, Greek sirens take a special place. We're talking about a woman's head and torso fused with a bird's body. But this is not the creepiest part.

In Greek mythology , these evil creatures that live near the sea are said to use their captivating voices to tempt sailors to their demise.

The tale of Odysseus , renowned for resisting the sirens' enchanting song, is a well-known example. He cleverly tied himself to the mast of his ship to experience the song but not succumb to it . Then, he instructed his crew to plug their ears with wax, ensuring they would not be seduced by the sirens.

7

Kraken

Credit: Dustin Humes

As if an ordinary squid wasn't creepy enough, ancient Scandinavian folklore brings us a mythological monster that challenges even the bravest.

The Kraken , feared by all sailors crossing the sea between Iceland and Norway, is described as a monstrous cephalopod of colossal proportions, capable of destroying ships and sinking them with all their crew members.

While tales of this beast's sightings date back to ancient times, one of the earliest surviving written descriptions of the monster dates back to the early 18th century.

8

Banshee

Credit: Keagan Henman

Have you ever ventured through a forest at night ? If not, learning about this myth might deter you from ever doing so. While not technically a monster, Banshee , from Celtic folklore, ranks among the most terrifying legends, with tales dating back to the 8th century or earlier.

She is often described as a spectral female figure with fiery red eyes and baggy, ragged clothing. Banshee is said to roam the forests at night, emitting scary screams and wails, announcing catastrophes to those who can hear her.

9

Yeti

Credit: Slava Auchynnikau

Any beast walking upright on two legs is enough to cause chills. But if that creature doubles or even triples your size, fear intensifies.

That is the case of the Yeti , the famous bipedal monster that lurks in the Himalayas. Described as an ape-like creature , but distinguished by its large size, it is often compared to our Bigfoot .

Countless tales from both locals and intrepid adventurers speak of sightings from afar, encounters with its huge footprints , or creepy echoes of its deep grunts at night.

10

Medusa

Credit: Olena Lev

O ften hailed as one of the most fearsome figures in mythology, Medusa is also among the most famous.

With her impressive visage adorned by demonic eyes and snakes for hair, she strikes terror into the chests of all who encounter her. Legend has it that her power lies in the ability to turn anyone who meets her eyes into stone.

According to Greek mythology, Medusa is one of the three Gorgons , but she possesses a distinctive factor: mortality. In multiple interpretations of the myth, it is the Greek Perseus who ultimately seals her fate, wielding his sword to behead the mighty Medusa.


LIVE LONG AND PROSPER

Shoot For The Stars: Can You Name These 10 Terms That Originated From Science Fiction?


Published on April 19, 2024


Credit: Robs

We truly live in an era of technological marvels. Think back on those futuristic gadgets and gizmos showcased on TV shows and films from your childhood. Perhaps you pretended to communicate through a portable screen like the ones seen on "Star Trek", which are eerily similar to the smartphone you are probably reading this article on. Or maybe you were amazed by that amazing virtual shark that leaps at Marty McFly in Back to the Future 2 , which would now be made completely obsolete by our current 3-D films.

The world of science-fiction has always provided humankind with new horizons and discoveries to shoot for, in our search for a better and more exciting tomorrow. That’s why today we have gathered a list of terms that have leaped from the incredible minds of science-fiction authors onto our everyday lives.

1

Robotics

Credit: Aideal Hwa

We’ll start this list with what’s probably science fiction’s bread and butter. Robots are undeniably an essential component of modern culture: Think of any decade from the past two centuries and you’ll find more than a few iconic robots shining through . The 50s had Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still , the 60s were comforted by the Jetson’s loyal maid, Rosie, and the 80s were shaken by Schwarzenegger’s relentless Terminator.

While the word robot was coined by Czech writer Karel Čapek in 1920, legendary science-fiction author Isaac Asimov first used the term "robotics" in his 1942 short story "Runabout", which introduced his now quintessential Three Laws of Robotics . While the term is still a sci-fi staple, the interdisciplinary study of robotics has become one of the most groundbreaking and exciting career paths today.

2

Zero-gravity

Credit: Muzammil Soorma

While the feeling of truly weightlessly floating in space is reserved for only a few selected astronauts, the freedom and wonder associated with the term "zero gravity" is one we can all enjoy . Through good old-fashioned Hollywood magic, movies have shown us both the unbelievable delight and the daring challenges that zero gravity has to offer.

While the origins of this term are still debated, it is believed that comic book artist Jack Binder was the first to use the phrase "zero gravity" in a 1938 article titled "If Science Reached the Earth's Core". In 1952, English science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke used the shortened term "zero-g" in his 1952 novel Islands in the Sky .

Credit: NASA

3

Deep Space

Defining the term "deep space" can be surprisingly tricky. After all, isn’t anything away from the Earth’s atmosphere considered outer space? While that is technically true, referring to the infinite vastness on which this majestic blue marble of ours is suspended simply as "space" seems a bit limited. However uncanny a feat the moon landing might seem when compared with the millions of kilometers that separate us from the sun, a trip to our closest satellite might seem like a quick run through the park. Luckily, we have "deep space" when we want to refer to any of those unreachable (at least for now) corners of our cosmos.

The term "deep space" was coined by American science fiction author E.E. "Doc" Smith in his 1934 novel Triplanetary . Smith, considered by many to be the father of the space opera genre, used the term to illustrate a futuristic age in which humankind explored the Solar system and formed alliances with other planetary governments.

4

Computer Virus

Credit: RoonZ nl

This one is a bit controversial, and not only because of the nature of malware. While nowadays computer viruses are an all too real danger to anyone connected to the internet (which is to say, basically everyone), the first popular use of this term was in a 1970 short story titled "The Scarred Man", written by astrophysicist and author Gregory Benford. In the story, a computer program called VIRUS causes havoc on computers with early dialing capability. However, what’s interesting is that Benford based this story on a real-life computer virus he helped create in the 1960s , as a proof of concept for a lab computer.

5

Ion Drive

Credit: Rod Long

Think about a futuristic engine or thruster, filled with flashing lights and bursts of astonishing blue energy, and you might be thinking about an ion drive. This term is one of the many technologies that you might find on your favorite piece of science fiction, right next to hyperdrive, jump drive, or ultradrive. Ion drives were made famous by the iconic Imperial TIE Fighters from Star Wars since their name comes from the "Twin Ion Engines" that fuel the ship.

While the Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction lists Jack Williamson's 1947 short story "The Equalizer" as the first usage of the term ion drive, other sources state that the first idea of an ion engine comes from the 1910s book By Aeroplane to the Sun: Being the Adventures of a Daring Aviator and his Friends , written by Donald W. Horner.

6

Warp Speed

Credit: Anton Filatov

You might be familiar with this pop-culture staple from watching Star Trek’s Captain Kirk ordering "Maximum warp, Mr. Sulu" right before the Starship Enterprise disappeared in a burst of speed. Or maybe you prefer _Star Wars_’ lightspeed, where Han Solo would slowly push a lever on the Millennium Falcon that made every light source in front of the ship’s cabin stretch into beautiful white lines. Whichever franchise you prefer, warp speed refers to a spaceship’s capability of jumping into impossible speeds that allows it to travel millions of miles in mere seconds.

Alongside robotics, warp speed is perhaps the most famous term that entered popular use through science fiction. When the original 1960s Star Trek show aired, audiences were soon enraptured by its many groundbreaking concepts, and warp speed was one of the most enthusiastically debated by fans.

7

Nanotechnology

Credit: Praveen Thirumurugan

It’s curious how nanotechnology can be so thrilling and scary at the same time. The concept of complex machines smaller than what the human eye can see might be instrumental in helping us cure diseases. At the same time, the thought of tiny, invisible machines invading our everyday lives is, at the very least, discomforting. In any case, nanotechnology is a particularly popular trope in science fiction . Perhaps its most famous example comes from the 1966 film Fantastic Voyage , in which a submarine crew shrinks down to microscopic size to save an injured scientist.

While the first detailed concepts of nanotechnology were outlined in a 1959 talk given by physicist Richard Feynman, many primitive forms of microscopic mechanisms can be found in previous works of literature. A few years before Feynman’s talk, Arthur C. Clarke described tiny machines that operated at the micrometer scale in his short story "The Next Tenants".

8

Clone

Credit: Phil Shaw

Before Dolly the Sheep made international headlines in 1996, the concept of cloning a living creature was relegated to the world of science fiction. Artificial cloning has been the subject of many masterpieces of the genre , but it is believed that Aldous Huxley's 1931 classic Brave New World might have been the first to bring this topic to light. In the novel, a futuristic human society chooses to strictly reproduce by an in-vitro method known as the Bokanovsky's Process, which is regarded as a rudimentary method of cloning that produces identical copies in artificial wombs.

9

Cyberpunk

Credit: Frank Leuderalbert

Cyberpunk might be both the most recent and obscure item on this list. It was first mentioned in the science-fiction magazine "New Worlds" in the 60s and 70s when a group of New Wave authors introduced dystopian, futuristic worlds filled with distorted technology and disrupted cultures. Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is considered by many to be one of the founding stones of the cyberpunk genre.

However niche these origins might be, cyberpunk has evolved to influence many aspects of popular culture . Berlin’s Center Potsdamer Platz (formerly known as the Sony Center), an iconic eight-building complex located in the heart of the German capital, was heavily influenced by cyberpunk culture and aesthetics.

Credit: Unsplash

10

Pressure Suit

Long before NASA started thinking about how to put the first astronauts into orbit, science-fiction authors had devised ways on which to send their characters onto the cold, unforgiving vacuum of space. The very first mention of a spacesuit comes from an 1898 science-fiction novel titled Edison's Conquest of Mars , written by American astronomer Garrett P. Serviss. In this story, the Wizard of Menlo Park himself leads a group of scientists to the moon, after a devastating war with Mars leaves the Earth in shambles. For this mission, Edison designs a series of "air-tight suits" for his group, which are now considered to be a rudimentary prototype of the spacesuit.

Looking for an extra scoop of literary fun?

Learn more with our Word of the day

quibble

/ˈkwɪb(ə)l/