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Lamia

Lamia is a city in central Greece (population 75,000). It is a site of archaeological excavation (a castle dating from the pre-classical years, reconstructed in the early middle ages). Lamia is the capital of the prefecture of Fthiotida[?] and the region of "Eastern Sterea Ellada" (comprising 5 prefectures).

Name

According to tradition, Lamia was named after Lamos (or Lamios) son of Hercules and Omphale[?]. Another account tells that the city was named after Lamia the daughter of Poseidon queen of the Trachineans. A third version is that it is named after the Malians, the inhabitants of the surrounding area. In the middle ages (869 AD) Lamia was called Zetounion being the seat of a bishop.

Conquered by the Latins after 1204 the name becomes Zirtounion, Zitonion, Girton (during the Frankish rule), El Cito (under the Catalan rule). The Turks called it Iztin.

History

Inhabited from the 5th millennium BC, the city was mentioned for the first time after the earthquake of 424 BC. It was occupied by Alexander king of Macedonia; the Athenians rebelled at his death. Antipatros[?], the successor of Alexander, after losing the fight against the Athenians and their allies, fortified his troops in the city of Lamia (Lamian war 323 BC-322 BC). The war ended at the death of the general of the Athenian troops, Leosthenes[?], and the arrival of a 20,000-strong Macedonian army.


Lamia is a mythological person: the daughter of Poseidon and Lybie. Lamia was a queen of Libya, whom Zeus loved. Hera turned her into a monster (or she killed Lamia's children and the grief turned her into a monster) and murdered their children. Lamia was cursed with the inability to close her eyes so that she would always obsess over the image of her dead children. Zeus gave her the gift to be able to take her eyes out to rest, and then put them back in. Lamia was envious of other mothers and ate their children. She had the body of a serpent and breasts and head of a woman. She was usually female, but occasionally male or hermaphroditic.

In historical times mothers used to threaten their ill-born children with this story. John Keats wrote about the Lamia in Lamia and Other Poems[?], which was based on Anatomy of Melancholy. Also: blood-drinking female vampire-spirits were called Lamiae.


Lamia in Bulgarian short stories and folk tales, is a mysterious creature with several heads, which can grow over and over again if cut, feeding on people's blood or (more often) killing young women. This monster often tortures villages and is to be found in caves or underground. In some tales, it has wings, in others, its breath is on fire. A Lamia has no gender but is usually perceived as a female.

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