Lamia by John William Waterhouse

Lamia was a queen in ancient Greece who had an affair with Zeus, and was cursed by Hera.    Hera turned her into a half serpent woman.   Part of the curse included that Lamia killed her own children, and was tormented by this knowledge evermore!

Lamia is also a species of monster that is believed to have had a vampiric nature!   These monsters were especially powerful and very capable of horrific acts.   They preyed on children, and this nature of female daemons preying on children became common in myth and legend!

Lilith, the first wife of Adam in the Hebrew tradition is likewise viewed as a female succubus that preyed on children.   Bram Stoker also utilized the vampiric female who preyed on children trope.   In Dracula when Lucy became a vampire she began to prey on children!    They were drawn to her vampiric aura.   Both of these examples can be seen as continuing the ancient Greek myth of the lamia in new ways, and in later cultures.

The story of Lamia proved to be inspirational, especially during the nineteenth century.    John Keats wrote a beautiful poem about the Lamia.   Keats was inspired by the Greek myth, but he wrote a new story of the lamia in his famous poem!   The John Keats poem went on to inspire paintings by John William Waterhouse.   One of Waterhouse’s Lamia paintings is at the top of the post!    There is much beauty in how Waterhouse chose to paint the skirt of the Lamia’s dress in a snakeskin pattern.   This is fitting to the story of Keats’ poem, and it gives a hint of the Lamia’s monstrous nature!

I hope this post has given you an overview of the Lamia.   Let me know you thoughts in the comments below!

Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is Lamia by John William Waterhouse.   I found the image on

Further Reading

  • Mythology by Edith Hamilton
  • Age of Fable by Thomas Bulfinch
  • Lamia by John Keats