2. A female phantom, by which children were frightened. According to tradition, she was originally a Libyan queen, of great beauty and a daughter of Belus. She was beloved by Zeus, and Hera in her jealousy robbed her of her children. Lamia, from revenge and despair, robbed others of their children, and murdered them; and the savage cruelty in which she now indulged rendered her ugly, and her face became fearfully distorted. Zeus gave her the power of taking her eyes out of her head, and putting them in again.
Some ancients called her the mother of Scylla.
In later times Lamiae were conceived as handsome ghostly women, who by voluptuous artifices attracted young men in order to enjoy their fresh, youthful, and pure flesh and blood. They were thus in ancient times what the vampires are in modern legends.
[ See: Lamia by John Keats ]