From tales of Medusa’s wretched gaze turning men to stone to the cunning Sphinx torturing the city of Thebes, supernatural creatures and beings have long been a part of poems and children’s stories for centuries. Ghost stories, urban legends, and tales of frightening monsters still thrill us today. The ancient world was no different. The Greeks’ and Romans’ fears and superstitions informed their culture, and have long fascinated scholars intrigued by the extant corpus of mentions of witches, ghosts, and monsters in Greek and Roman literature.
Passed on through time by poets hoping to spin a tale that would chill their listeners to the bone, these imaginary creatures have a legacy deeply rooted in the annals of antiquity and continue to be reimagined in popular culture today. Like Hades himself, monster myths and ancient ghost stories have proven themselves immortal and show no signs of fading away.
In the quiz below, test your knowledge about the origins of these otherworldly and mythical beings. Some of this trivia may jump out and surprise you—don’t get scared!
Quiz background image credit: “Circe Offering the Cup to Odysseus” by John William Waterhouse. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Featured image credit: “Kadmos a drak” 560–550 BC. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.