Mythology is a creation of tales within a society with the intent of explaining natural phenomenon or a cultural experience. These tales were at one time synonymous with some religions, and in some cases defined an entire civilization. While it seems the term mythology most often applies to the well-known Greek or Roman mythology (think Zeus and Venus), almost every country has a foundation of mythology including the Norse, Native Americans, Asian, and every other ancient society.
In many cases, over time, the myths became blurred between cultures and centuries. As most myths were not written down until hundreds of years after the stories began, there are often many versions of each which often directly conflict. The best known creatures from these myths have lived on for thousands of years. I've listed some of the most popular mythological creatures below.
Centaurs have the bodies of horses, with the torso of men. With very few notable exceptions, centaurs are extremely wild and inhospitable. They are vastly territorial, and do not enjoy the company of gods or humans. They are mortal, again with the exception of Chiron who was granted immortality by the gods as he is the trainer of heroes.
Satyrs are followers and helpers of the god of wine and revelry, Dionysus. They are human, usually male, from the waist up, and goat from the waist down. Satyrs have a certain form of nature magic. When they play their lyre or pipes and sing to the plants, the vegetation flourishes. The most famous satyr is Pan. However, many contend that Pan is actually not a true satyr as he is immortal while regular satyrs are mortal, and call him a nature god.
Satyrs are well known for enjoying frolics with nymphs and other beautiful maidens – the average satyr is quite the lady's man.
Sirens are a form of evil sea nymph and are depicted many ways throughout mythology, including as buzzards, larks, bird women, and even as women with fish tails – although they are not mermaids. The sirens live on an isolated island and sing beautiful and tempting songs to lure sailors to their deaths on the reefs so that the sirens might feast.In mythology, only Odysseus is known to have survived an encounter with the Sirens by having himself tied to the mast of his boat while his sailors rowed past with wax in their ears.
Harpies and the Furies
Easily confused, both the Harpies and the Furies are depicted as creatures who are half bird and half woman. Neither of these sing, however.
The Harpies are vicious creatures of the underworld who torture punished souls on their way to Tartarus, where eternal punishments are enacted.They seemed to especially prefer preying on the flesh of the dead and picking of choice pieces as the souls of the dead trudged beneath them. The Furies, on the other hand, are the physical form of vengeance. They are generally depicted with wings, but might not appear as bird-like as the Harpies. The Furies appear in groups of three, and it was considered extremely bad luck to call them by name. They had many nicknames in order to prevent the appalling ladies from taking vengeance on you or your family.
The Gorgons were three sisters in mythology.
Although some myths suggest the sisters were born monsters, others claim that one sister, Medusa, was so beautiful that she caught the eye of Poseidon the sea god. They had a rather elicit encounter in Athena's temple, and Athena caught them in the act, if you will. She was understandably angry, and punished Medusa by turning her into a monster. The sisters were turned into monsters as well for helping the relationship along. Medusa is well-known for having snakes for hair and a gaze that will turn any living creature to stone. She was finally killed by Perseus. Pegasus, the winged horse, was said to have sprung from her blood.
This is by no means a complete list of creatures from Greek mythology. There are countless other creatures, heroes, mortals, and gods of all forms of mythology, as well as different versions of the creatures above. It is impossible to know exactly what was said two thousand years ago, but these depictions are based on some of the earliest known written accounts.