View Full Version : Less than well-known mythological beings

10-20-2009, 03:18 AM
A strange idea for a thread, but here it would be well suited. Anyone intrigued by any creature from any world mythology, that isn't so well known as, well how about our dear Medusa (my favorite theme for this site), list them here. I'll jot them down whenever any come to mind, or on the lucky occasion I discover an interesting one.

For starters- Azi Dahaka (Zoroastrianism/Zarathustrianism, whichever you prefer) Azi Dahaka was originally a great Persian lord led astray by Ahriman, or Angra Mainyu, the demoniacal twin of Ahura Mazda, the god of harmony, love, and whatever else to the followers of Zarathustra. Upon the sealing of his pact with Ahriman, the king who would become Azi Dahaka was kissed upon each shoulder by the princely embodiment of chaos and corruption. At this instant the king's body began to distort from it original human shape, depictions vary, but the one recurring apparent characteristic always attributed to Azi Dahaka is, where upon Ahriman laid his kiss, a large black, venomous snake grows out of each of Azi Dahaka's monstrous shoulders. His serpent heads mirrored his inner persona, but they'd minds of their own as well, and were often said to have a taste for the gray matter within a live person's skull. Throughout the millenia spent in the prison containing him, Azi Dahaka's body and temperament become less and less human, until in the endtimes, he has become a dragon-like beast, still retaing the signature three heads, that would have sent Lovecraft beating off furiously.

G. S. Carnivals
10-20-2009, 05:03 AM
For those interested in the subject, I recommend The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luís Borges with Margarita Guerrero. Here there be monsters... :eek:

10-20-2009, 12:18 PM
For those interested in the subject, I recommend The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luís Borges with Margarita Guerrero. Here there be monsters... :eek:

Yes indeed, this is one of the sources of my idea for this thread. How about another?

The Devourer (Ancient Egypt, not clear on which of the three main eras the beast made itself known in) Recorded in the numerous recovered royal Books of the Dead, The Devourer was a beast of cataclysmic fury that was locked away in the Underworld to be used as a means of exacting the justice of the gods upon those damned amongst their mortal subjects. If the dead soul, or ka to the Egyptians, could, with the help of his or her book, traverse the Underworld to reach the court of the gods of men, they would then stand in line and prepare themselves for final judgement. When their hour came, they would approach and kneel before the consortium of ruling gods, amongst which was Maat, the female counterpart to Thoth, and the goddess of law, truth, wisdom, and justice. The deceased's heart would be placed on one plate of balance scale, on the other Maat would place a single feather from her crown. If neither side outweighed the other, if they were in alignment, the soul could depart for eternal paradise. Should the content of the soul be found imbalanced and asymmetrical, Horus or another of the gods, would cast the heart, the container of the ka, into the den of the Devourer.

The Devourer was portrayed as having the mane and front quarters of a male lion, the formidable head, spine, and tail of a Nile crocodile, and the hind legs and lower body of a hippopotamus, though this chimera dwarfed all of his component animals in size. Only the Devourer could consume the souls of those judged. In the aftermath of its feeding, the victim would, depending on the account, be either utterly annihilated-made one with oblivion, or would wander for eternity as some form of hollow spectre with no notion of what it ever once was, both terrifying prospects to the ancient Egyptians.

10-21-2009, 07:03 PM
Is that piece on The Devourer by Borges? It contains an astonishing number of errors for so short a piece. (Starting with Recorded in the numerous recovered royal Books of the Dead... In fact, I believe that The Devourer is mentioned only in the funerary literature of private persons, and not at all in that of royal persons.)

10-21-2009, 11:58 PM
If memory serves me correctly, though I've much interest in the subject as well, you're more knowlegeable of Egyptian antiquity (you've a thread on the subject here, right?). To answere you're question, I wrote it, I sometimes have been drinking before I write if you'll forgive that.

There are very few truly comprehensive works regarding Egyptian antiquity, and this is fairly arcane even for that, so I was going on, mainly, what I've read from random scholarly observations of various archaeologists turned writers.

The thread is open, if you want to make any corrections. I simply wanted to throw ahead lesser known creatures from the historical bestiary as I think this forum is an appropriate place for such things.

I always thought the nobility was somewhat extensive in Egypt, in terms of sheer numbers. Correct me if I am wrong, seriously do, I hate it when bad information and personal bias distorts historical things, I don't like doing it myself.

Incindentally, a few interpretations of the Devourer-


HM 'Alang' Huhammad Hanif

(fantasy art page, not sure if he's professional)

traditional Egyptian depiction



10-22-2009, 11:23 AM
The Devourer's name is generally rendered into our letters as Ammit or Ammut. The "t" is a feminine termination and we might translate the name as "the (female) devourer". The determinative with which the name is written seems to indicate that the Egyptians regarded her as a goddess. (The determinative is a hieroglyph indicating the general sense, usually placed at the end of the word.) That said, Ammit seems to have had no cult or temples, and was probably not a goddess as we would now understand the word.

The image is a combination of the most dangerous animals known to the Egyptians, and may (perhaps) be no more than a forcible way of saying "she is dangerous". (Although with no snake [or other poisonous creature] in the mix which may, in itself, be interesting.)

As to the sorts of people who had copies of the Book of the Dead (titled in Egyptian "Pert em Heru" which translates as "The Coming Forth By Day") depicting Ammit, perhaps (at least for now) one example may suffice. Ani, whose well-illustrated papyrus is preserved in the British Museum held such titles as "Accounting Scribe for the Divine Offerings of All the Gods" and "Overseer of the Granaries of the Lords of Tawer". My impression is that he was a bureaucrat, and is unlikely to have had any close connection with the royal family.

10-22-2009, 01:27 PM
I'd heard the name somewhere, I simply like 'Devourer' better, I'd no idea Ammut was female though. She somewhat superficially resembles Tiamat so I guess I shouldn't be terribly surprised. The Egyptians were more admirable story tellers than most others- like the greater number of civilizations, the Egyptian looked upon embodiments of chaos as things to be feared. However the Egyptian preferred to harness the dread powers in their mythos for the greater benefit, as opposed to the unrealistic and more popular prospect of attempting to uproot forces one cannot control.

The Devourer or Ammut is a good example of this, another would be Seth being charged with defending Ra's vessel during its nightly voyages through the Underworld.

Julian Karswell
10-22-2009, 04:11 PM
Well, usual interesting ones, the character of Loki has always fascinated me immensely. Can't think why....


Generally I prefer Celtic and Norse mythology to the Greek and Roman versions. Partly because [to paraphrase Morrissey] it tells me more about my European history, and partly because I adore the art which it inspired. In fact I have two William Morris / Edward Burne-Jones tapestries in my living room depicting scenes from Celtic mythology.


Julian Karswell
10-22-2009, 04:16 PM
And of course, the Moomins.

Do the Moomins qualify as mythological beings? I think they should.