Online Encyclopedia

LAMIA

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 130 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LAMIA, in Greek mythology, queen of Libya. She was beloved by Zeus, and when Hera robbed her of her children out of jealousy, she killed every child she could get into her power (Diod. Sic. xx. 41; Schol. Aristophanes, Pax, 757). Hence Lamia came to mean a female bogey or demon, whose name was used by Greek mothers to frighten their children; from the Greek she passed into Roman demonology. She was represented with a woman's face and a serpent's tail. She was also known as a sort of fiend, the prototype of the modern vampire, who in the form of a beautiful woman enticed young men to her embraces, in order that she might feed on their life and heart's blood. In this form she appears in Goethe's Die Braut von Corinth, and Keats's Lamia. The name Lamia is clearly the feminine form of Lamus, king of the Laestrygones (q.v.). At some early period, or in some districts, Lamus and Lamia (both, according to some accounts, children of Poseidon) were worshipped as gods; but the names did not attain general currency. Their history is remarkably like that of the malignant class of demons in Germanic and Celtic folk-lore. Both names occur in the geographical nomenclature of Greece and Asia Minor; and it is probable that the deities belong to that religion which spread from Asia Minor over Thrace into Greece.
End of Article: LAMIA
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