A legendary creature is a mythical or fantastic creature in historical literature. Some have their origin in traditional myths and have at one time been believed to be real beings.The Phoenix, Pegasus, Unicorn and the Centaur are just some of these legendary creatures.
The Phoenix was a mythical Arabian bird with shimmering red and gold feathers. It was the only one of its kind, and lived for 500 years. When it felt death coming, it built a funeral tower out of cinnamon twigs. As the Phoenix sang its sweet, sad song, the sun ignited the tower and the bird was consumed by fire. Out of the ashes arose a new Phoenix - as beautiful as the last.
Harry Potter novels, by J.K. Rowling, feature a phoenix named Fawkes. The great English poet and playwright William Shakespeare, too, referred to the famed myth of the phoenix in his play The Tempest.
Pegasus was the winged horse of a Greek legend. It was caught by Bellerophon (a hero and slayer of monsters). Mounted on the horse, Bellerophon flew to Mount Olympus, the home of the gods. This angered their leader Zeus, who sent a gadfly to sting the horse, which threw its rider to the earth. Pegasus then rose alone into the sky, and became the constellation of stars that bear his name.
The Unicorn was thought to be very fierce, with a bite like a lion, a kick like a horse, and a horrible braying voice. If a maiden sat alone under a tree, the Unicorn would approach, lay its head in her lap and go to sleep. Only then could a hunter capture it and cut off its spiralled horn which was said to have magical powers.
The Centaur was half horse and half man. The most famous centaur was Chiron, who taught archery to mythical Greek heroes such as Hercules and Achilles. Chiron, who was immortal, was accidentally wounded by a poisoned arrow. He gave up immortality because the pain was so great that he desired only death. Chiron became the constellation called Sagittarius, or ‘The Archer'.
Centaurs have appeared in many places in modern times. For example, in Harry Potter, in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis, and in Xena: Warrior Princess.
The Roc is mentioned in several Arabian folk tales, such as Arabian Nights. According to Middle Eastern literature, the Roc is an enormous mythical Asian/Arabian bird, which laid eggs as big as castles and fed upon young elephants and giant serpents.As described in the Tales of Arabian Nights, Sinbad the Sailor escaped from an island on which he was stranded by tying himself to the huge foot of a sleeping Roc. When the bird awoke and flew away, it carried Sinbad with it to a new adventure which led to his discovery of a great natural resource in the Valley of the Diamonds.
The Griffin was a fearsome mythical beast with huge claws and a liking for human flesh. Females were said to have feathered wings, while males were covered in spikes.
The Griffin had only one powerful enemy-the lion. But in the Middle Ages, when it became a popular heraldic animal, the Griffin
was thought to be stronger
than eight lions and 100 eagles. It gained the reputation of being an especially powerful and majestic creature.
Besides the Harry Potter books, there is also a reference to Griffins in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.
Countless legends abound various other creatures and they make an incredible read for those interested in the mysteries of the ancient times.
chuck on April 03, 2010:
you need info on sirens mythical bird/human
sagy on November 30, 2009:
it should have more descritions
nono on August 25, 2009:
i love this webite
hassam (author) from Pakistan on March 24, 2008:
Thanks once again lucky mythology is really one of my favourite subjects.... obviously there is an endless list of these beasts in different stories only I have known and named a few.....and even I would love to know my self about all these creatures.
Lucky Dog on March 24, 2008:
Once again Hassam, well done! I love mythology! I have never read the adventures of Sinbad so I had never heard of Rocs before! I'm currious to read it in the future.