Horror 365 Movie(ish) 180: 5 Mythological Horrors

Ages before Riordan, Harryhausen, Lovecraft, Gothic literature, and The Brothers Grimm, we had the vain, ill-tempered, petulant, vengeful, spiteful, mean-spirited, self-absorbed, egomaniacal, bloodthirsty gods of mythology themselves. Good times! No doubt we all of us have some kind of familiarity with mythology, and it’s arguably the origin of horror itself. So let’s take a moment and have a look at a few of the more obscure terrors of the ancient world.

#5 Tithonus

In some versions, Tithonus and Ganymede were kidnapped by Eos to be her lovers. Zeus became smitten with Ganymede as well and re-kidnapped him. In other versions, Ganymede was only nabbed by Zeus. Either way, Tithonus and Eos are a thing, and Eos graciously decides to ask Zeus to grant Tithonus eternal life. As always, careful what you wish for because Eos did not think to ask for eternal youth as well. Eventually Tithonus becomes too weak to use his limbs, so all he can do is make noise and therefore becomes either a cicada or a cricket–appropos here in the colonies as the 17-year swarm is upon us.

#4 Atum

Ya gotta use your imagination and focus on the visuals for this one. First, Atum wills themself (selves? I dunno, but Atum is neither male nor female, so, y’know) into being out of the chaos of Nu. In the G-rated version, Atum “joins” with their shadow to create a son, Shu, and daughter, Tefnut whom Atum spits out. In the less family friendly versions, Atum either ejaculates or vomits them. So yeah. Picture that–two immortal beings forming, coming to life, and emerging out of a pool of deific bodily fluids.

#3 Medusa

Yeah yeah, everyone knows basically what happened to Medusa, but as is always the case there’s a number of versions of the story. Poseidon rapes her right in Athena’s temple after which Medusa is turned into a gorgon. One theory is that Athena turned her into a gorgon and set her on an island, probably Sarpedon, not as punishment but in order to protect her from the pursuit of men and/or to act as a tool of vengeance against them. There’s also a version in which one of Medusa’s sisters is also turned into a gorgon just for standing too close when Medusa was transformed. Then of course there’s Perseus carrying her severed head around.

#2 Ishtar

First of all, imagine this image brought to the big screen. Anyway, this comes from The Epic Of Gilgamesh. After defeating a monster, Gilgamesh goes to a stream to wash off the blood, gore, grime, sweat, entrails and assorted monster ick. Ishtar spots this and finds it devastatingly attractive, so she appears to Gilgamesh and says “You, ya handsome devil, you get to be my next lover,” to which Gil responds with a hard pass. He then recounts the fates that befell all her previous lovers–a shepherd turned into a wolf, the brightly colored bird whose wing she broke, the lion she condemned to a lion pit, etc. For this outrage, Ishtar attacks Gilgamesh with The Bull Of Heaven, but that’s another story.

#1 Isis

No no, not “nail Osiris in a sarcophagus and toss him in the Nile,” but the bit after that. See, Osiris comes to rest in Byblos, somewhere around Syria. A tree grows and incorporates the sarcophagus into its trunk. As it contains Osiris, this tree is special and fragrant, getting the attention of King Malkander and Queen Athenais. The tree is cut down and installed as a column in the palace. Isis hears of this and investigates. She becomes a nursemaid to the king’s son, Diktys, who suffers from an incurable illness. Isis puts him in a fire each night to cure him (good to be a goddess). One night the queen happens upon this. Oops. Anyway, Horus is later conceived when Isis lies with the body of the slain god.

Okay. I tried to stay away from the more obvious tales, so this is a pretty good start. What horrifying myths can you remember? Let me know in the Comments.

10 thoughts on “Horror 365 Movie(ish) 180: 5 Mythological Horrors

  1. Alllllll the sex that was actually rape. I had the sanitized versions as a kid so when I got older and read adult books I was like, wait, what? I had a great hippie, feminist mythology teacher in high school that taught matriarchal stories that I was completely unaware of. And then of course I had you teaching me about even more gore and fluids. So yay for education! I saw the trailer for THE GREEN KNIGHT the other day and yelled, “Hold up! I know this!” So thanks for making me look smart.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I always found very creepy that the Greek Goddess Athena was born right from Zeus’head, which opened in half and let her out with armour and sword. And how about Prometheus, who stole fire from Olympus and was doomed to had his guts eaten by eagles for all eternity? That’s horror to me.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Well when you think about it, the ancient myth stuff is pretty popular in superhero movies. You have Marvels Thor and even in the marvel universe heroes like Hercules make appearances. Even DC has Wonder Woman that is kind of the doorway for the gods to enter the storyline.

        As to being used in horror… it has great potential. The Mummy movies always did that in my opinion. But it would be awesome to see the Greek myth characters being used. You could modernize it.

        Liked by 1 person

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