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Mormo (Greek: , , Morm?) or Mormon was a female spirit in Greek folklore, whose name was invoked by mothers and nurses to frighten children to keep them from misbehaving.

The term mormolyce (; pl. mormolykeia ), also spelt mormolyceum ( mormolukeîon), is considered equivalent.


The name mormo has the plural form mormones which means "fearful ones" or "hideous one(s)", and is related to an array of words that signify "fright".[1][2]

The variant mormolyce translates to "terrible wolves", with the stem -lykeios meaning "of a wolf".[3][2]


The original Mormo was a woman of Corinth, who ate her children then flew out; according to an account only attested in a single source.[4] Mormolyca (as the name appears in Doric Greek: ) is designated as the wetnurse (Greek: ) of Acheron by Sophron (fl. 430 BC).[6]

Mormo or Moromolyce has been described as a female specter, phantom, or ghost by modern commentators.[7][8][9] A mormolyce is one of several names given to the female phasma (phantom) in Philostratus's Life of Apollonius of Tyana.[10][11]

Mormo is glossed as equivalent to Lamia and mormolykeion, considered to be frightening beings, in the Suda, a lexicon of the Byzantine Periods.[12] Mombro () or Mormo are a bugbear (), the Suda also says.[13]

"Mormo" and "Gello" were also aliases for Lamia according to one scholiast, who also claimed she was queen of the Laestrygonians, the race of man-eating giants.[15]


The name of "Mormo" or the synonymous "Mormolyceion" was used by the Greeks as a bugbear or bogey word to frighten children.[7][8]

Some of its instances are found in Aristophanes.[16][17] Mormo as an object of fear for infants was even recorded in the Alexiad written by a Byzantine princess around the First Crusade.[18]

Modern interpretations

A mormo or a lamia may also be associated with the empusa, a phantom sent by the goddess Hekate.[19]

Popular entertainment

  • Mormo is an evil witch in the 2007 film adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novel Stardust.[a] In the story, she is one of a triune of magically powerful sisters, the others being named Lamia and Empusa. In the book, the characters were not named.[20]
  • "To Switch a Witch", a third-season episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, describes a symbol on a gravestone as "the Mark of Mormo, a witch's sign".

Explanatory notes

  1. ^ Mormo lives with two sisters, Lamia and Empusa in the film.
  2. ^ Cuomo later named his band Mormos.



  1. ^ a b c Johnston, Sarah Iles, ed. (2013) [1999]. Restless Dead: Encounters Between the Living and the Dead in Ancient Greece. Univ of California Press. p. 174. ISBN 9780520280182. ISBN 9-780-5202-8018-2
  2. ^ a b Stannish & Doran (2013), p. 118.
  3. ^ "Lamia & Empusa (empousa)". theoi. Retrieved .
  4. ^ Scholios to Aristides (Dindorf, p. 41)[1]
  5. ^ Johnston, Sarah Iles (1995). Meyer, Marvin W.; Mirecki, Paul Allan (eds.). Defining the Dreadful: Remarks on the Greek Child-Killing Demon. Ancient Magic and Ritual Power. p. 367. ISBN 9789004104068. ISBN 9-789-0041-0406-8
  6. ^ Sophron frag. 9, ed. Kaibel.[5]
  7. ^ a b L.S. (1870), Smith, William (ed.), "Mormo", A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, London: John Murray
  8. ^ a b L.S. (1870), Smith, William (ed.), "Mormo'lyce", A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, London: John Murray: "the same phantom or bugbear as Mormo, and also used for the same purpose".
  9. ^ Stannish & Doran (2013), p. 28.
  10. ^ An empousa, or lamia, she is also called in the work.
  11. ^ Philostratus, Life of Apollonius 4.25, quoted by Ogden (2013a), pp. 106-107
  12. ^ "Mormo", Suda On Line", tr. Richard Rodriguez. 11 June 2009.
  13. ^ "Mombro", Suda On Line", tr. David Whitehead. 27 July 2009.
  14. ^ Ogden (2013b), p. 98.
  15. ^ Scholios to Theocritus Idylls 15.40.[14][1]
  16. ^ Aristophanes. Archanians, 582ff. "Your terrifying armor makes me dizzy. I beg you, take away that Mormo (bogey-monster)!"
  17. ^ Aristophanes. Peace, 474ff. "This is terrible! You are in the way, sitting there. We have no use for your Mormo's (bogy-like) head, friend."
  18. ^ Anna Comnena (1969), The Alexiad of Anna Comnena, Sewter, Edgar Robert Ashton (tr.), Penguin Books, p. 61, ISBN 9780140442151
  19. ^ Fontenrose (1959), pp. 116-117.
  20. ^ "Stardust (novel)", Wikipedia, 2019-01-22, retrieved


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