Creatures Made of Multiple Human Beings?
December 3, 2019 2:35 PM   Subscribe

Are there creatures from folklore or mythology that are multiple human beings, or parts thereof, joined into a monstrous whole? Not in the Frankenstein sense of one human being made from spare parts, or the Blob sense of human beings trapped in something else, but more like Pilobolus, with too many legs and arms and heads? (E.g. Pilobolus_2018c Duggan_008-1024x683.jpg)
posted by musofire to Writing & Language (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
"My name is Legion, for we are many."

Rooted in the Christian Bible but picked up in many areas of folklore. I’m partial to this giant ball of bodies interpretation, but there are many others.
posted by SaltySalticid at 2:40 PM on December 3, 2019

Geryon... 3 heads on one body, or maybe 3 bodies in one...
posted by protorp at 2:42 PM on December 3, 2019

Not folklore, but Clive Barker's "In the Hills, The Cities" (from Books of Blood) has exactly this.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 2:54 PM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

Plato's original human species -- four legs, four arms, two faces -- before the gods divided each one into the bipeds we are now?Like so.
posted by LizardBreath at 2:54 PM on December 3, 2019 [4 favorites]

Hindu gods (and demons) often have multiple arms and heads.
posted by crazy with stars at 3:31 PM on December 3, 2019

I’m sure there’s room for debate and maybe I misunderstand the question but I don’t think Greek or Hindu gods or demons quite fit. They are supernatural beings with their own origins, they are not made from humans or human parts: they may have lots of arms and heads but they are generally not monsters made of humans.
posted by SaltySalticid at 3:44 PM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

TVTropes: Body of Bodies
These monsters can be either made of various corpses "glued" together, or just being an amalgamation of random body parts disposed in a casual manner. Sometimes it can be the result of the villain or another creature absorbing his underlings or Devouring the Dragon in order to become much more powerful. Hence it can fit nicely for a One-Winged Angel. Unlike a Flesh Golem (which is likely started as a sort of homage to the Frankenstein Monster), these creatures tend to be "natural" (as in not artificially crafted), or the result of a One-Winged Angel transformation.
Mostly pop-cultural, but this one from the Mythology section sounds interesting:
The Gashadokuro from Japanese myth is a giant skeleton formed from an entire village worth of starved townspeople or the fallen soldiers whose bodies were left to rot where they fell. In general the Gashadokuro is formed from the collective misery and hatred of the people it was complied from and fueled by their souls. The worst part of it is cannot be defeated; the only way to kill it is to keep running and hope it burns itself out
posted by Rhaomi at 4:01 PM on December 3, 2019 [5 favorites]

The "farm" creatures in Rogue Farm, by Stross (which is fiction not folklore but the closest I think of)
posted by aramaic at 4:02 PM on December 3, 2019

Ettins are two headed humanoids of Northern European folklore.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:12 PM on December 3, 2019

posted by saladin at 4:26 PM on December 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Behold the majestic man-taur.
posted by solotoro at 5:01 PM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

The video game "Inside" has such a thing. Link to an article with spoilers for the end of "Inside."

It's a great game too.
posted by tacodave at 5:18 PM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

The beast with two backs goes back to Shakespeare in English and apparently originated with Rabelais some seventy years earlier.
posted by jamjam at 5:53 PM on December 3, 2019

I have a couple of modern examples, but neither matches directly.

Do the constituent humans have to be stuck together full-time, or would a Voltron-type situation (admittedly, people in vehicles instead of just humans), count?

Similarly there are the gnomes from Gravity Falls.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:57 PM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

Scuzzlebutt from South Park has Patrick Duffy for a leg.
posted by 7segment at 6:34 PM on December 3, 2019 [4 favorites]

In Greek mythology, the Hecatoncheires (/ˈhɛkətɒŋkəriz/; Greek: Ἑκατόγχειρες, translit. Hekatoncheires, lit. 'Hundred-Handed Ones'), or Hundred-Handers, also called the Centimanes,[1] (/ˈsɛntɪmeɪnz/; Latin: Centimani), named Cottus, Briareus (or Aegaeon) and Gyges (or Gyes), were three monstrous giants, of enormous size and strength, with fifty heads and one hundred arms.
posted by thelonius at 7:03 PM on December 3, 2019

For a contemporary example, Wreck It Ralph II has a creature at the climax that simulates a legion of haters on the internet when his like/love interest isn’t interested.
posted by childofTethys at 3:23 AM on December 4, 2019

Chinese mythology has loads. Especially the demons. Non demons examples include Guan Yin, goddess of compassion, who has 1000 heads and arms.
posted by ananci at 2:22 PM on December 4, 2019

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