In todayís world, it is important to keep an eye out for danger. There are beasts and monsters from Ionia to the Pillars of Herekles and beyond. If you don't know what to look for, it is easy to fall into a trap that will imprison your for years or kill you within seconds. I have decided to focus this article on the many dangers in our extensive landscape. Here are only a few of the creatures that plague us.The Ornithes Areioi, birds of Ares, is an excessively violent flock of creatures that any hero would be very unlucky to cross. Their metal feathers quickly become arrows, and the birds have remarkably high accuracy when they take aim, at least thatís what the targets would say. These birds of Ares mainly haunt the lonely low lying shores of an island located in the black sea, but you never know when these nasty little creatures will show up and attack. They center on this single island to act as protectors, for this small island is very special to the war-god Ares. In fact the island, they protect, is referred to as the island of Ares. This island belongs to the Amazons. The birds "Queens, Otrere and Antiope, built a marble shrine for Ares when they were going to war"(Rhodius). When the Argonauts encountered this pest on the island of Ares they had, by great luck, already been given some warning by the tribe called Mossynoekoi. One attacked alone, then another, and it became clear that not a single great hero, not even Herekles, could ever hope to stand a chance against these birds with out a plan that consist of less brute force and more than a little cunning. The birds of Ares are very similar to, if not the same as, the Stymphalian birds slain by Herekles in the land of Arkadia. Amphidamas son of Aleus who was from Stymphalos in Arkadia announced that Herekles had defeated the Stymphalian birds by shaking a bronze rattle to scare the birds away. The Argonauts gathered their shields to lock them together like a home's roof to protect themselves from the raining arrows until they could deploy their plan. When they reached the island, the Argonauts banged their shield together and the birds of Ares, in fear of this strange new noise, franticly rushed away dropping their feather-arrows on the shield-roof. So In the event of becoming face to feather with one of these metal monsters make the most vibrant and violent noises. This shows us a shield is a simple solution that can truly save lives, in more ways than one. The Tritones are a tribe of fish tailed creatures that much like people are subject to the pulls of good and evil. Not every Tritone is violent, but they can be as ferocious and dangerous. It is not known if the Tritones are able speak like humans with beautiful voices and human language or if they communicate like the creatures of the sea. Starting at the top, their hair grows like a marsh frog's. You can not separate one strand of hair from another. It has the same color of green from the top of the head to the beard, unless it grays from age. They have rough scales like a shark's that will act as armor in a fight. This indicates the belief that it is difficult to stop this creature no matter what weapon you use. Tritones can breath underwater by using the gills found under their ears, but the beasts can just as easily breath through their nose, that is found in the usual place. Most gruesome part of this beast is the mouth. Its mouth protects a sense of normal function until the animal smiles. First the smile stretches beyond wide until it appears as if its face had been slashed from ear to ear, and then inside its mouth are carnivorous teeth that must serve a function too evil to imagine. With out the warning of the mouth the Tritone's beautiful blue eyes could lull the unlucky into a false sense of safety. Unlike their fish brothers, they have arms like humans with hands and all, but if you look closely you will see they nails like a murex shell. When you look further down the beast you see that below a Tritone's breast there is the bottom half of a dolphin, tail and all. In Tanagra there was a Tritone that would steal cattle from the shore. At times he would attack small ships. The people of Tanagra put out an offering of wine, and the smell lured him in. The Tritone drank in excess and decided to lie down to sleep on the shore. A man from Tanagra approached while the beast slept and chopped off the Tritone's head with a heavy axe. In the event of a Tritone violating your city-states economy this method is adequate, but it is not helpful in a direct attack. In the event of a direct attack, go for the neck. Even the Tritone's can be beaten when you know its "Achilles heel".
The Worm is a creature found only on the banks and in the beds of rivers. The Worms have only two teeth. One tooth on the top and one in the bottom, and they are matched with a very strong jaw that crushes every animal and stone it comes into contact with. The Worms have a girth that barely allows a ten year old child to wrap his arms around, and can become up to seven cubits long. In the day they lurk at the bottom at the river bed. They will devour any camel or horse that by chance chooses to drink from their river home. And if that is not bad enough, at night the slimy creatures emerge from the water to the prowl the land. When there hunt is successful, they drag the poor creature to the riverbed to suffer its ultimate fate. Since the beast has a hide two fingers thick, it is important to use a specific method to kill this creature. Take a strong hook, as one used to fish only larger, and use a lamb or child as bait. Keep as many as thirty men with javelins on hand to pull up the Worm and attempt to pierce its hide. It might even be necessary to beat the beast with clubs of cornel-wood. To be sure it is dead hang it in the sun, and be very careful to avoid the thick oil that drips from the Worm after its death. The oil will burn like lamp oil with no spark. It is best to avoid the worm, and act only in defense of the animals of burden.
From the birds of the sky, to the depths of the ocean, and even on our own level, in the beds of rivers, there are monsters that will fight us to our last breath. They pillage our lands and block us from archiving our goals. But they are also a burden created by the gods for humanity to prove our worth, cunning, and true value. I hope that the tips and tricks of this article help to protect the good citizens, and aid heroes on their adventures.
Aelian. On Animals. transl. A. F. Scholfield. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard UP, 1958.
Apollonius, Rhodius. The Argonautica. transl. E. V. Rieu. The Penguin Classics. London: Penguin Books, 1959.
Hyginus. The Myths of Hyginus: Fabulae. transl. by Grant, M. Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas Publications.
Nonnus. Dionysiaca. transl. Rose, H J and Lind, L R. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard, 1940
Pausanias. Description of Greece. transl. Jones, W H S. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard UP, 1918.