In ancient times, the Greek people believed their mythical world was real. Greek storytellers would travel from village to village, telling tales of gods and goddesses. Sometimes, they told tales of monsters. The children listening to these stories would shiver and ooh, but they weren't really scared. Everybody knew that in the story, a brave Greek hero would kill the monster, using courage, intelligence, and strength.
The Hydra was a terrible, mean, rotten swamp monsters with nine heads. There was nothing nice about the Hydra. Hercules fought this monster and finally won, but he had a tough time. Each time Hercules cut off one of the Hydra's head, two heads grew back in its place! The myth of the brave Greek hero Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra
Medusa was once a beautiful human woman, but she angered the goddess Athena. Athena punished her by turning Medusa's long gorgeous hair into squirming and wiggling poisonous snakes. The snakes did not bite Medusa, but they bit and killed anyone else who got too close. Plus, if you even looked at Medusa you would be turned to stone. It was never wise to anger the Greek gods, but this was an especially terrible punishment. It did not take long before Medusa turned into a terrible person, which is understandable, but still, she could not be allowed to hurt good people. The myth of the brave Greek hero Perseus and the evil monster Medusa.
The Harpies: Part human female and part bird, the three Harpies were winged monsters who snatched up evil doers in their sharp claws, and tortured them all the way to the Underworld, where they dropped them off from great heights. (If the evil doers were not dead already, the fall would certainly kill them.)
Typhon was an especially scary monster. He had one hundred snake heads. The Typhon scared everybody, gods and mortals. Zeus finally killed this horrible monster using his lightening bolts. Thank goodness for Zeus!
Here are some ancient Greek monster myths retold for kids by Lin Donn. Keep in mind, these are just stories. Don't let these creepy monsters scare you one bit.
A list of some of the ancient Greek monsters of myth (from Wikipedia) Note to our students: We included this list so you could see how many monsters there were in the ancient Greek mythical world. Keep in mind, these monsters were never real. They never existed. Don't let them scare you because they are just stories. But the ancient Greeks loved to hear about the Greek heroes who took on monsters and won! The ancient Greek storytellers had to keep their stories fresh and interesting, while being true to the major characteristics of the monsters already created by themselves and by other storytellers. They were paid with food, clothing, goods, and a place to sleep for the night. The best of the storytellers were very comfortable in ancient times. They followed a route. They did not, for the most part, wander aimlessly. People looked forward to their arrival. It was a big deal. Storytellers had to be creative to keep their interest. They told the same stories over and over, because people wanted to hear them. They added to stories. They created a new story with the same monster or mythical being.
All of these stories were told orally. They were not written down. Storytellers had to remember them. Artists and authors today still create stories and art featuring the monsters and mythical beings of the ancient Greeks, each in their own way but staying true to the main characteristics of each. For example, the Cyclops always has one eye and Cerberus is always a three-headed dog. After that, it's up to the storyteller. Scholars suspect that storytellers met on purpose while traveling and shared their stories. That way, the same story would be told by different storytellers, which gave the story a feeling of truth that it might not have any other way. The storytellers would tell the same story to a point, and then expand it in some way. The Greeks were not only creative. They were very clever.
Thanks to the storytellers, the people soon had a common language. They learned to speak Greek because it was the language of the storytellers. They had a common history. They had common heroes. They had a common religion. They began to think of themselves as one people.