Greek mythology is replete with tales of fantastic creatures, including flying monsters that presented serious challenges to the heroes of Greek mythology. Three of the best-known flying monsters in Greek mythology are griffins, harpies and Stymphalian birds. Griffins are mythological beasts with a lion's body and eagle's head. They came in winged varieties -- such as the ones that reputedly pulled the chariot of the goddess Nemesis -- and non-winged varieties. Griffins are often seen pictured with the sphinx, another winged creature, in ancient Greek artwork.
Early Greek mythology refers to harpies that were wind spirits. Later Greek mythology -- such as the story of Jason and the Argonauts -- describes them as birds with the faces of hideous-looking women. In one Greek myth, this latter type of harpy was sent to punish King Phineas for mistreating his children.
Greek mythology tells of a truly horrid flock of birds with which Heracles had to contend during his sixth labor -- the Stymphalian birds. These birds were said to have beaks that could puncture armor, and metal feathers with which they would spear their human victims. Heracles defeated them using a noisemaker devised by the gods, scaring them out of hiding so that he could shoot them one at a time. According to the story, Heracles killed many of them and the rest of the flock never returned to Greece.
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