Freaks from mythology


The Blemmyes (Latin Blemmyae) are a race of legendary creatures that were said to live in Africa, in Nubia, Kush, or Ethiopia, generally south of Egypt. They were fabled to be acephalous (headless), their eyes and mouth being placed in the breast.



Bochart derives the word Blemmyes from two Hebrew terms, one a negation, the other meaning "brain", implying that the Blemmyes were people without brains.


Pliny the Elder writes of them that Blemmyes traduntur capita abesse, ore et oculis pectore adfixis ("It is said that the Blemmyes have no heads, and that their mouth and eyes are put in their chests"). Othello makes reference to them as "men with heads beneath their shoulders".

Origin of the myth

The Blemmyes were, in fact, a nomadic Nubian tribe described in Roman histories of the later empire. From the late third century on, along with another tribe, the Nobadae, they repeatedly fought the Romans.