Online Encyclopedia

LAMIA

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 130 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LAMIA  , in

Greek
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mythology, queen of
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Libya . She was beloved by
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Zeus, and when
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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
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female bogey or demon, whose name was used by Greek mothers to frighten their children; from the Greek she passed into
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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
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modern
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vampire, who in the form of a beautiful woman enticed young men to her embraces, in order that she might feed on their
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life and heart's
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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
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Laestrygones (q.v.) . At some early period, or in some districts, Lamus and Lamia (both, according to some accounts, children of
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Poseidon) were worshipped as gods; but the names did not attain general currency . Their
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history is remarkably like that of the malignant class of demons in Germanic and
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Celtic folk-lore .

Both names occur in the

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geographical nomenclature of
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Greece and
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Asia Minor; and it is probable that the deities belong to that religion which spread from Asia Minor over
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Thrace into Greece .

End of Article: LAMIA
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