A Man-Eating Hog? Meet the Crommyonian Sow

The myths of ancient Greece had their fair share of unusual animals—the Chimera, the man-eating horses of Dionysus, and Pegasus, to name a few. But one that usually oinks its way under the radar is the Crommyonian sow. This giant, pesky pig liked to chow down on human flesh, and it wasn’t until the hero Theseus came along that she was stopped in her hoof-tracks.

Hog Versus Human

The sow, whom Plutarch calls Phaea, was bred by a grumpy old lady in the town of Crommyon. Pseudo-Apollodorus claims that the pig was named after her owner; both were called Phaea. Instead of reining in this hoggish monster, Phaea let her pig waddle free, gobbling up her neighbors and little kids like they were truffles. Diodorus Siculus quips that the hog “beast which excelled in both ferocity and size and was killing many human beings.” Needless to say, this didn’t go over well with the local authorities, but they didn’t approach Pig Phaea, lest they be chomped up, too.

Theseus and the Crommyonian Sow, with Phaea. (British Museum/CC BY 2.5)

Theseus and the Crommyonian Sow, with Phaea. (British Museum/CC BY 2.5)

Phaea was a worthy adversary that Plutarch says, “gave Theseus a great deal of trouble, despite being a female animal,” “a savage and formidable wild beast, by no means an enemy to be despised.” That’s understandable, given she was thought to be the offspring of Typhon and Echidna. The last-named was a half-human, half-serpent who birthed many of mythology’s great monsters. With her hundred-headed…

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