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Top 10 Legendary Creatures, Monsters, & Mythological Species

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Ancient mythology is the study of connections between myths, stories, and writings from
different cultures.  The term myth is defined as a sacred narrative explaining how the
world and humankind came to be.  Many historical mythologies have the same legendary
creatures, monsters, human races, and Gods.  These creatures and individual species are
thought to have inhabited ancient earth.  Some common examples include leprechauns,
elves, dragons, and werewolves.  I have included a brief history and information
surrounding some of the most infamous legendary creatures, monsters, and various
mythological beings.

10. Gnomes

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A gnome is a mythological humanoid creature characterized by its extremely small size
and subterranean lifestyle.  Most gnomes are earth dwellers and they built elaborate
underground homes.  They will often burrow into the sides of large hills.  The gnomes
are a specific species, but often get confused with other similar mythological creatures,
most often the goblins and dwarfs.  Goblins are
fictional, evil, crabby, and mischievous
creatures described as a grotesquely disfigured.  They are similar to gnomes in size, but
can also reach the height of humans.  Dwarfs are another mythological humanoid
creature that has
magical talents, often involving metallurgy.
   
 

There are many different races of gnomes, including the kaukis, which is a Prussian
gnome, and barbegazi are gnome-like creatures with big feet that live in France and
Switzerland.  Further east, tengu are sometimes referred to as winged gnomes.  Many
gnomes are hunchback and their individual kingdoms are ruled by a leader.  Gnomes are
nice creatures by nature.  They traditionally are small, bearded, and wear pointed,
colorful, conical hats.  They live in natural areas close to the Earth and care for wildlife.

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9. Nymphs

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sheepback

Nymph societies are a staple in Greek mythology.  They are described as a female spirit
typically associated with a particular location or landform.  Nymphs live in mountains,
groves, springs and rivers, also in trees, valleys, and cool grottoes.  They are noble
creatures and are frequently associated with the superior divinities.  Throughout their
history Nymphs were the frequent target of satyrs, who were a troop of primarily male
humans that roamed the mountains.  Usually female, they dress in white, with garments
decked with garlands of flowers.  They frequently have unnatural legs, like those of a
goat, donkey or cow.  They are extremely beautiful creatures.
  
 

Nymphs can move swiftly and invisibly, ride through the air, and slip through small
holes.  They are not immortal, but their lives exceeded a human's tenfold, and they
retained their beauty until death.  Nymphs tend to frequent areas distant from humans,
but can be encountered by lone travelers outside the village.  Nymphs might appear in a
whirlwind, which can be harmful to humans causing infatuation, madness, or stroke.
There are many different species of Nymphs and some can be found in the oceans.
 

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Rob Gallop

8. Centaurs

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In Greek mythology, the centaurs are a race of creatures composed of part human and
part horse.  They are equipped with the
torso of a human joined at the waist of a horse's
neck.  Like the mythological satyrs, centaurs were notorious for being overly indulgent
drinkers and trouble makers.  They were prone to violence when
intoxicated and
generally uncultured delinquents, although intelligent and kind centaurs did exist.  A
great example is Chiron.  Centaurs were said to have inhabited the region of Magnesia
and Mount Pelion in Thessaly, Mount Pholoe in Arcadia and the Malean peninsula in
southern Laconia.  Females are called Kentaurides and the species is best known for
their fight with the Lapithae, in which they were destroyed.  Centaurs were first
described in various Greek literatures and they have been accounted for in various
cultural eras.

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Svadilfari

7. Kraken

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Kraken are mythological sea monsters of gargantuan size.  They are said to exist off the
coasts of Norway and Iceland.  The sheer size and dreadful appearance of these beasts
have made them one of the most feared ocean-dwelling creatures.  Kraken are one of the
largest species of sea monster and sea serpent.  Accounts surrounding the monsters may
have originated from sightings of giant squid.  Modern scientists are learning about the
habitat and breading populations of the giant squid, which can grow to the size of 15
metres (50-60 feet).

  
 

Kraken usually live in the depths of the ocean, but can be seen on the surface of the
water.  Reports claim that the monsters will attack ships in search for food and pure
destruction.  Kraken are said to have great intelligence, but little is known about them.
The monster is reported to look like a mixture between a giant squid and some form of
crab.  When a Kraken is in the area you may see bubbles of water, sudden and dangerous
currents, or the appearance of new islets.  Norwegian sailors and American whalers
often reported the presence of Kraken.  Many historic and mysterious ship wrecks and
disappearances have been credited to the monster, including one famous 1782 incident
in which ten British warships vanished.

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6. Dragons

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wili hybrid

Dragons are legendary creatures that are typically portrayed with serpentine or reptilian
traits.  They are featured in the ancient mythology of many different cultures.  The two
most common dragon species originated in the European and Oriental nations.  They
generally have a body like a huge lizard, or a snake with two pairs of lizard-type legs.
The creatures are able to emit fire from their mouths. The European dragon has bat-like
wings growing from its back.  Like most mythological creatures, dragons are perceived
in different ways by separate cultures.
  
 

They often spit fire, but have been reported omitting poison or even ice.  The dragon’s
most definable feature is their large yellow or red eyes.  Asian cultures view dragons as
primal forces of nature, religion, and the universe.  They are associated with wisdom
and magic, wells, rain, and rivers.  Dragons can even be taught human speech in some
areas of the world.  They are widely used in fantasy novels and film.

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Ardent

5. Ogres

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An ogre is a mythological humanoid monster that is large, cruel, and hideous.  Don’t
confuse ogres with giants because they are not related.  Ogres have a large head,
abundant hair and beard, a massive appetite, and a strong body.  They are extremely
dangerous and like to feed on human flesh.  Ogres were also known to terrorize various
giant and elf populations.  No ogre ever has good intentions and the modern conception
of the creatures has been changed due to the light hearted Shrek, who is a fictional ogre.
Ogres have been depicted in numerous classic works of literature and art.  They live in
the deep forest, mountain peaks, caves, and are primarily nocturnal.  Ogres don’t have
magical powers and are often viewed as dirty creatures.  The smell of the ogre is highly
distinct and recognizable from a distance.  If you happen to find yourself in the lair of an
ogre population it is already too late.  I included a video of the ogre scene from the
1977 cartoon film The Hobbit.   

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4. Elves

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The elves are a race of fertility gods, often pictured as youthful seeming men and women
living in forests and underground places, such as caves, wells, or springs.  They are
immortal beings that often display magical powers.  Folklore strongly suggests that
interaction with elves was common among all the Germanic tribes, and not limited
solely to the ancient Scandinavians.  The elves are beautiful human-sized beings.  It is a
common misconception that elves are small creatures.
   
In Norse mythology the main population consisted of females, who lived in the hills and
mounds of stones.  They are typically pictured as fair-haired creatures that are nasty when
threatened.  Elves can often be seen dancing over meadows, particularly at night and on
misty mornings.  Anglo-Saxon elves were similar to early elves in Norse mythology.
They were human-like, human-sized supernatural beings, but they were predominantly
if not exclusively male.  In recent history elves have appeared in modern fantasy novels,
including The Lord of the Rings.
 

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3. Giants

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Giants have existed in various cultural mythologies for thousands of years.  In Indo
European mythologies, gigantic peoples are featured as primeval creatures associated
with chaos and the wild nature.  Giants have super-natural strength and gaping size.
Giants and Gods have waged many wars in their existence.  Giants come in many
different forms and classes, including frost giants, mountain giants, and fire giants.
Jotun are minuature giants and usually aren't taller then most humans.
 
One of the most famous is the Cyclops, which is a member of a primordial race of
giants.  The Cyclops is known for its unique feature of a third eye in the middle of its
forehead. 
Giants are believed to have built the remains of previous civilizations,
thus explaining architectural formations that must have included the Giants massive
strength and ability.  They are not the smartest creatures, but are united.  Physical proof
of their existance does exist and giant bones are usually classified as human like remains
that are 7’5’’ or more in height.

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2. Leprechauns

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In Irish folklore, a leprechaun is a type of male fairy that usually seen the form of an old man.  They
wear a red or green coat and enjoy partaking in mischief.  Like other fairy creatures, leprechauns
have been linked to the Tuatha Dé Danann of Irish mythology.  They are usually perceived as being
no larger then a small child and are professional cobblers and shoemakers.  According to legend, the
great wealth of these creatures accumulated from uncovered treasure crocks that have been buried in
time of war.  The leprechaun is the son of an "evil spirit" and a "degenerate fairy" and is not
completely good or evil.

  
 

Prior to the 20th century it was generally considered that the species wore read.  The leprechaun is a
solitary creature that rarely interacts with others.  Nobody really knows exactly what a leprechaun
looks like.  Modern films, television cartoons, and advertising have popularized a specific dim-witted
image of leprechauns which bears scant resemblance to anything found in the cycles of Irish
mythology.  Irish people find the popularized image of a leprechaun to be little more than a series of
offensive Irish stereotypes.
 

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1. Lycanthropes  

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Lycanthropes or Werewolves are mythological humans that have the ability to shift shape
into wolves or anthropomorphic wolf-like creatures.  They can infect the human
population with a bite and the creature’s transformation is often associated with a full
moon.  The lycanthropes mythology originated in Europe, but many accounts are found
all over the ancient world.  The creature has extraordinary strength.  They are one of the
most common species of shape-shifters.  Features of the lycanthrope include the
meeting of both eyebrows at the bridge of the nose, curved fingernails, low set ears, and
a swinging stride.  A human can be identified as a werewolf by cutting into their flesh to
reveal hair or special bristles under their tongue.
  
 

In returning to the human form the creature becomes weak and debilitated.  Until the
20th century wolf attacks on humans was a widespread recorded cause of mass death in
Europe.  Before the end of the 19th century, the Greeks believed that the corpses of
werewolves, if not destroyed, would return to life as vampires in the form of wolves or
hyenas which prowled battlefields, drinking the blood of dying soldiers. 

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Comments:
 

Mrs. Carter - March 22, 2010
Love it!

Tuba - April 21, 2010
This is a great website!

Mindy - May 10, 2010
Its okay, but i think some of it has nothing to do with greek mythologhy.  I just
think that some guy not knowing his history thought it was, but sorry dude, its not.

Chris - June 14, 2010

I am amazed.  Thanks for this enlightenment.

Sarah - July 14, 2010

It’s very useful and nice.

Jerry - September 22, 2010

Mythology isn’t exclusively Greek.

Will - September 26, 2010

Hey Mindy, it never said anywhere in the text or title that this is strictly about Greek
mythology.  There are other mythical creatures not from Greek mythology.

Mary - December 27, 2010

I think its ok but I looked up GOOD creatures not a mix of good and bad.



Copyright The List Blog - Top 10, All Rights Reserved, Posted September 5, 2009