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Nightmare Fuel / Classical Mythology

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  • Many of the monsters in these stories:
    • The Lernaean Hydra (a serpent with nine heads, that can continually regenerate when injured)
    • The Chimera (a hideous amalgamation of a lion, a goat and a dragon)
    • Cerberus (a vicious three-headed dog that in some myths had a back covered in living serpents)
    • Orthrus (Cerberus's two-headed, serpent-tailed little brother), and various other creatures definitely count.
    • Perhaps the worst is Typhon — father of the above along with the Mother of All Monsters, Echidna — Typhon is described by some writers as being as tall as the sky itself, and having a hundred dragon-like heads, all of which screamed and breathed fire. It's not hard to see why almost all the gods had a collective Brown Note when he appeared, and fled Greece, leaving Zeus to face the creature by himself.
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    • And then there's creatures like Scylla and, even worse, Charybdis, once beautiful women turned into eldritch things of pure horror. Scylla we at least know is horrifying to observe, looking like a giant, beautiful women from the waist up, with a scaled tail below, and the heads of six, rapid wolves snapping at her waist.
    • Medusa, whose face was apparently so frightening that anyone who saw her turned into stone. Much like Scylla and Charybdis above, she also used to be a beautiful woman before the Gods transformed her, except when she was a monster from the beginning.
  • Prometheus' fate of being chained to a rock and having an eagle peck out his liver each day. He endured it for hundreds of years before being released.
    • Similarly, the fate Cheiron the centaur faced before he sold his immortality: living forever, with the maddening poison of the Hydra eternally burning through his veins.
  • The fate of mortals unfortunate enough to piss off the Olympians.
    • Actaeon, a man who accidentally walked in on a bathing Artemis, got himself turned into a deer and killed by his own dogs.
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    • Erysichthon, who chopped down one of Demeter's trees, was infected with eternal hunger and eventually ate himself.
    • Athena transforming Arachne into a spider for being better at her in weaving.
    • Phineas, son of Poseidon, was Randomly Gifted with the ability to perceive past and future. This access to knowledge threatened the gods so Zeus struck him blind and further punished him with starvation by being attacked by Harpies every time he tried to eat.
    • One Gigante Damasen (anti-Ares) was peaceful and good friends with a farmer. Then the farmer gets eaten by a dragon. He kills the dragon. Neither his mom or dad were happy with that, so they send him to hell to kill that dragon every day for all eternity.
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    • So, you're friends with Aphrodite, and she want to marry you, eldest son of Nereus, old man of the sea. That's good, right? Well, Dad says no. You tell your girlfriend that, and even though it's not your fault, she turns you into a polyp.
  • Many gods of the Pantheon were terrifying in the same way as Anthony from "It's a Good Life"; by marrying incredible power to a complete lack of temperance or discipline. Even the mightiest of gods could be vain, petty, selfish, lecherous, vindictive, and very enthusiastic when it came to Disproportionate Retribution. And, unlike the deities of most other belief systems who get the same accusations from time to time, this was not a matter of Alternate Character Interpretation; according to their own believers, these gods were a bunch of cruel, vicious, spoiled children and humanity was just one of their playthings.
  • The few tales of cannibalism (such as Tantalus and Atreus).
  • Zeus makes another woman pregnant, then hides her underground. She gives birth to a giant... and dies of childbirth.
    • The same giant flirts with Artemis. He gets sent off to Tartarus to be forever eaten alive by eagles. This was not Prometheus, just some Casanova Wannabe.
  • Ephilatus and Otus tried invading Olympus. They eternally drown in the center of a waterfall, tied by snakes to a pillar, while Fate watches them as an owl. Ouch.
  • Some of the bandits whom Theseus defeated were known for their exceedingly barbaric cruelty such as Procrustes, who tied his victims to a bed and chopped body parts if they did not fit. Sinis was also pretty horrific: he bent down two pine trees with his great strength, tied the hands of passer-bys to the tips of the two trees, and then let go.
  • The Minotaur's young victims were imprisoned in the labyrinth and force to run for their lives until the beast catches and devours them or they drop dead of exhaustion, hunger and thirst. It's like the first teen slasher flick.
  • The future Olympians were able to live and grow in Kronos's stomach how exactly? Squick indeed.
  • Antaeus the giant, who was building a temple using human skulls.
  • The fate of the few mortals sent to Tartarus:
    • Ixion - bound to an ever spinning flaming wheel.
    • Sisyphus - forced to roll a boulder up a hill only for it to roll back down.
    • Tantalus - chained to a pool from which he can never drink because the water recedes. There are fruit trees whose branches he can't reach because the breeze blows them away.
      • The whole reason Tantalus ended up the way he did; he was invited to a banquet on Mount Olympus and asked his father Zeus to allow him to bring back some ambrosia to share with his mortal friends. Zeus said no (most probably because ambrosia burns mortals to death), so Tantalus left and sought to humiliate the Gods by revealing to the world that they're Not So Omniscient After All. How? By killing his own son, Pelops and boiling his flesh in the soup he planned on feeding to the Gods. The Gods all immediately figured it out what he did (except Demeter, who was too busy mourning the loss of Persephone) and were absolutely horrified. Zeus pretty much incinerates Tantalus on the spot and then demands the Fates to bring Pelops back to life to make up for what Tantalus did. And what's worse, they couldn't restore his whole body; Demeter had absentmindedly eaten one of his shoulder blades and Hephaestus had to make him a new one.
      • The reason Ixion was there? He was invited to Olympus for dinner and started creepily and obviously flirting with Hera. To get proof, Zeus made a cloud copy of Hera and made sure Ixion could find the cloud copy easily (while hiding the real Hera). Ixion promptly attempts to rape the copy. Zeus, waiting only for the chance to catch him in the act, struck him dead and prepared the above-described punishment.
      • The reason Sisyphus got punished? Back then, Thanatos, the god of Death, actually knocked on your doors visibly and in person, so when he came to Sisyphus, Sisyphus knocked him out and tied him up, causing nobody on Earth to die. Ares noticed that though there was enough mangling and bloodshed going on on his favourite battlefields, nobody died, which put a bummer on the whole thing for him, so he went to look for Thanatos. After finding him under Sisyphus' bed, he freed Thanatos and the two of them killed Sisyphus then and there. In the Underworld, Sisyphus started whining to Hades about how his wife had no time for proper burial rites and how without them he could never really enter the afterlife, so Hades let him back to the world of the living to arrange things, but he told his wife not to complete the rites and stayed on as a ghost. After a while, when it was obvious Sisyphus was not planning on going back, Hades fetched him himself and put him to the task described above.
  • King Diomedes, who fed humans to his flesh-eating horses. In a Karmic Death and/or Ironic Death twist, he himself was fed to them.
  • The fate of Orestes, who killed his mother to avenge his father. He is forever tormented by the Furies, who were physical manifestations of madness.
    • The entirety of the Atreidae lineage (which Orestes is part of), really. They were a royal family who have been cursed by Zeus due to the arrogance of the bloodline's founding member (Tantalus, who is already mentioned above). It all goes downhill from there. Oh, yes, their story is a grim one filled with murder, incest, and cannibalism, among other things. And speaking of cursed families...
  • The Labdacids (AKA Oedipus' family). They received Apollo's curse from Pelops (of the aforementioned Atreidae) for causing the death of the latter's son. This curse leads them to inevitably kill each other, and then there is poor Oedipus.
    • Imagine marrying your own mother and unknowingly having intercourse with her! Horrible! Then, to top it all off, Oedipus gouged his own eyes out after he discovered all this.
  • Icarus plummets to his death after the wax keeping his man-made wings together melted from the heat of the sun.
    • Phaeton, son of Helios or Apollo, had a similar fate: after being allowed to drive the sun chariot, he loses control of it so bad he has to be blasted out of the sky by Zeus. His charred remains crashlanded in Italy and his sisters died of grief at the lake that formed at the crater of impact.
  • The rape of Callisto. She was raped (once she realized who her attacker really was and what he was going to do she fought), by Zeus disguised as his daughter Artemis. Callisto was a follower of Artemis and one of the goddess’s favorite companions. In other words, Callisto was raped by a god in the form of her best friend. Callisto is cast out, turned into a bear, separated from her son for 15 years, and upon seeing him after those 15 years, is almost killed by him.
  • Athena's birth. The clanging produced when Metis forged Athena's armor gave Zeus a massive headache, and he was willing to do anything to stop the headache...ANYTHING, including go to one of his least favorite people in the world, Hephaestus, and have him split his skull wide open. Then, Athena burst out of Zeus' bleeding skull, fully grown and armored, and letting out a battle cry.
    • Her mother, Metis, was fated to give birth to a son more powerful than Zeus. So he turns her into a fly and swallows her whole.
  • The Graeae. Dear Gods, the Graeae! Spooky old witches who only had one eye and one tooth among them. They shared both items among themselves and even fought over both! Even worse, some versions say that they were half-human and half-swan.
  • After a woman seduced a king, his wife organized for the other woman's children to be killed. But the seducer switched their clothes, and the queen murdered her own kids. When the two lovers were discovered, they were tossed off a cliff and became sea gods.
  • Medea. Where to start? First, she killed her brother and threw his diced up corpse into the sea bit by bit to make sure she and her boytoy Jason escaped her father, the king of Colchis. When Jason dumped her for a princess, she then decided to murder the princess with a cloak that instantly turns the wearer into a fireball. She also kills Jasons' future father-in-law, and finished this up by killing the kids that the couple had together. She make her get-away by flying into the sky on a chariot driven by Dragons. Finally, Medea manages to make peace with her father afterwards by killing her uncle, who had deposed the father as king. She is Nightmare Fuel for anyone who goes through messy divorces with psychopaths.
    • Before she eloped with Jason, he swore a high oath never to abandon her. When he does and thus she kills his new bride to be, his new father-in-law-to-be and their children (causing Jason to be driven out of his rightful homeland upon pain of death, penniless), Hera goddess of jealous wives, women scorned and obsessed yanderes, who was Jason's patron goddess and was one of or even THE deity invoked at the oath, couldn't add any more punishment to Jason other than to let him sleep in the bed he made, ie., let him live without her giving back anything that was taken from him.
  • Lycaon. He (or his sons, depending on the version) knew full well that Zeus makes a habit of dropping by in disguise to see if kings and hosts behave as they should, so when the big guy did show up, they suspected he might actually be Zeus. So what do they do to put him to the test? Why, kill a child from the next village over and serve him up as food. So Zeus turns them into the first werewolves, in some versions even noting that nothing about their behaviour changed.
    • Expanding on that, some sources add that Lycaon had a daughter as well as sons. Her name? Kallisto- whom you might know as the woman turned first into a bear then into the constellation Ursa Major, for getting knocked up by Zeus. She gave birth to a boy called Arktos, but they got separated right after, she was wandering the wilderness and the boy went to his grandfather. The versions that mention Kallisto as Lycaon's daughter go on to also specify that the child was cooked up for a visiting Zeus being Arktos himself, who gets resurrected when Mr. Thunder realizes what happened.
  • Cronus eating his children one by one, with his wife powerless to do anything. (Until Gaea helps her with the hint of going to Crete and giving a rock to Cronus when she expects her sixth child...)
  • Persephone's abduction. Sure there are many variations of it, but the one we're most likely familiar with goes like this: Persephone is just out in the field picking flowers and minding her own business. She decides to pick a narcissus she sees, which is really a trap laid out by Hades to ensnare her. Hades bursts out of the earth in his chariot and pulls Persephone in while she is vainly attempting to fight him off and screaming for help, but they plunge to the earth before anyone can come to the goddess's aid. Hades arrives in his kingdom with his bride-to-be and drops the bomb that they're getting married on her while the poor girl is still trying to process the fact that she was just snatched from her home, her beloved mother and everything else she's ever known, and is about become her abductor's wife and queen of his kingdom.
  • Hera was a notoriously jealous goddess. While Zeus's infidelities were hardly admirable, her responses to them were nothing short of horrifying. She would wreak cruel vengeance against the women he slept with, including those who didn't know their lover's true identity and even women her husband raped. Not only that, she was incredibly malicious to his children, even though it's obviously not their fault they were fathered by the King of the Gods.
    • Exhibit A: Once, by the time she could pinpoint the exact woman and child involved, the kid was already an adult and the woman already dead, meaning Hera couldn't take revenge on her. So what does she do? She poisons the watersources of the island the man is a king of and arranges all nearby kingdoms to attack him at once. (Solution? The man prayed to his father who offered to help and the man asked for an army as organized and disciplined as the ants, and so the Myrmidons were born.)
    • Hera wasn't nicer to Io, even though Zeus was only planning on raping her before Hera caught up with him in some versions. Since Zeus turned Io into a cow (Hera's sacred animal), she couldn't kill her, so she sent a gadfly to torment her for eternity. And when poor Io happened on Prometheus, Prometheus told her the only way she can turn back to a human is go back to Zeus- because Herakles, the only one who can free Prometheus, will be born of Io's bloodline generations later.
    • For the obvious question, "why isn't she taking her anger out on Zeus, the one who is actually cheating on her?"... she tried. she tried organizing a coup against him but it failed. As punishment, Zeus tied her above the Gap (Chaos) in strong chains and with an anvil tied to her ankles, and used her for target practice.
  • The Nemean Lion, a vicious, bloodthirsty beast with an impenetrable hide and claws that could cut through just about anything.
  • The fate of anyone unlucky enough to incur the wrath of Herakles - from the teacher he killed with a punch in his youth to his killing of his wife and children, or even a prince (a king thought Herakles stole some cattle and sent the son who idolized Herakles to ask) who did nothing wrong.
  • In a mythos where gods and heroes perform incredible deeds, perhaps the most disturbing thing about Nyx, the primordial embodiment of night, is that she never needs to prove her power. Even Zeus, whose only defeat was a very temporary one by Typhon, doesn't dare provoking her to anger, leaving us to imagine what kind of being might frighten Zeus himself into complacency.


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