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Lamia

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Majir
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« on: October 13, 2010, 03:26:11 pm »

Interpretations
Mothers throughout Europe used to threaten their children with the story of Lamia.[13] Leinweber states, "She became a kind of fairy-tale figure, used by mothers and nannies to induce good behavior among children."[14]

Many lurid details were conjured up by later writers, assembled in the Suda, expanded upon in Renaissance poetry and collected in Bulfinch and in Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable: Lamia was envious of other mothers and ate their children. She was usually female, but Aristophanes suggests a hermaphroditic phallus, perhaps simply for monstrosity's sake.[15] Leinweber notes, "By the time of Apuleius, not only were Lamia characteristics liberally mixed into popular notions of sorcery, but at some level the very names were interchangeable." [16] Nicolas K. Kiessling compared the lamia with the medieval succubus and Grendel in Beowulf.[17]

Apuleius, in The Golden Ass, describes the witch Meroe and her sister as lamiae:[18] "The three major enchantresses of the novel — Meroe, Panthia and Pamphylia — also reveal many vampiric qualities generally associated with Lamiae," David Walter Leinweber has noticed.[19].

One interpretation posits that the Lamia may have been a seductress, as in Philostratus' Life of Apollonius of Tyana, where the philosopher Apollonius reveals to the young bridegroom, Menippus, that his hastily-married wife is really a lamia, planning to devour him.[20] Some harlots were named "Lamia".[21] The connection between Demetrius Poliorcetes and the courtesan Lamia was notorious.[22][23][24] In the painting by Herbert James Draper (1909, illustration above), the Lamia who moodily watches the serpent on her forearm appears to represent a hetaira. Though the lower body of Draper's Lamia is human, he alludes to her serpentine history by draping a shed snake skin about her waist. In Renaissance emblems, Lamia has the body of a serpent and the breasts and head of a woman, like the image of hypocrisy[citation needed].

Christian writers warned against the seductive potential of lamiae. In his 9th-century treatise on divorce, Hincmar, archbishop of Reims, listed lamiae among the supernatural dangers that threatened marriages, and identified them with geniciales feminae,[25] female reproductive spirits.[26]

John Keats described the Lamia in Lamia and Other Poems, presenting a description of the various colors of Lamia that was based on Burton's in The Anatomy of Melancholy.[27] The Keats story follows the general plotline of Philostratus, with Apollonius revealing Lamia's true nature before her wedding.

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