The warden of Tartarus

Every prison worth its name has guards worthy of the title; efficient, hardened, effective and unwavering in their duty, and maybe a little bit TOO much into their jobs at times. Keeping those being punished in their proper place becomes a calling in life, not just a job where you clock in, do your time and then clock out at the end of the day.

A true guard is completely behind the idea of justice served and time spent making up for whatever you've done as a criminal. But no prison guard in the long history of humanity had the job down to a religion of sorts like ancient Greece's supermax prison commandant and jailkeeper, KAMPE (camp-ee). Kampe was the one-gal-show that stood watch over Greek mythology's most horrific and brutal prison of all, the fiery depths of Tartarus, the sulfur-stinking, rancid hell-pit where the worst of the worst go to spend eternity under a constant, flesh-melting flow of torture. And Kampe gleefully gets into her job in a way that no one else ever could...

As the (under)world's most effective and animalistic prison-keeper, Kampe defies description in any normal way. In the mythologies, she is shown as having the head and upper body of a beautiful woman (debatable), the lower body of a scale-encrusted murky-colored drakon, a massive, tapering scorpion's tail full of quick-death venom that swings around from her backside, fat, muscular, coiling snakes curling around her thick, reptilian cankles, and to top off the picturesque thoughts one might have about her, she had fifty grisly, snaring and snapping heads of various creatures (wolves, snakes, bears, lions...) bubbling up around her waist, constantly moving and gnashing their teeth.

Her fingernails were said to be "curved like a crook-talon sickle," (no doubt she had all kinds of gunk, crud and rotting flesh stuck up underneath them, too. Blech...) and almost as an afterthought, she also possessed black bat-like wings on her scaly, humped back. She is often mentioned holding (and joyously using) scimitars (curved swords), having writhing snake hair like one of the Gorgons, holding a razor-sharp scythe (a curved farming tool used to cut wheat but which makes an awesome weapon), and most infamously a flaming whip with which to torture the inmates under her watch and control...

In the days before Echidna, the "Mother of all Monsters," and her husband, the not-so-charming and utterly-deranged Typhon, monsters such as Kampe came right from the source; she was the foul and horrid daughter of Gaea, the Earth Mother and Tartarus (Huh? Weirdly, "he" was actually alive as a Titan and was also a place, so he actually was able to exist as both at the same time. Try wrapping your brain around that'll hurt!). Gaea's track record was already pretty rough with the Gigantes, Hecatonchires and the Cyclopes in the monster department, and Tartarus was literally the pit of hell, so is it any wonder that their nasty daughter was as charming as she was?

Speaking of Gaea's earlier children, the above-mentioned monsters: Ouranos (The Titan of the Heavens and the Big Daddy of all Titans everywhere!), and later, his son Cronus (King of the Titans after "offing" Ouranos), employed Kampe as an enforcer down in Tartarus when they locked up the betrayed and unwanted "black sheep" of the Titans' large family, fearing that they would attempt to overthrow the Titans themselves. They spent long centuries down in Tartarus and endured Kampe's flaming whip cracking constantly, skin splitting wide open continuously as they slaved away, golden ichor (divine blood) flying everywhere as they worked on meaningless projects for her.

Building walls and tearing them down, quarrying blocks of stone and then crushing them into gravel. Over and over and over, without much in the way of rest or relaxation. And evil Kampe got her wretched jollies watching them suffer, almost as if she fed on the pain and misery, finding it as tasty and delicious as Hydra-poisoned candy. And who knows? She probably did feed off of the wretched emotions of her captives; she had the air of absolute psychopathic evil about her.

Unchallenged in her own personal torture-chamber for millenia, Kampe probably thought she was completely safe from anyone who might want to attempt destroying her; her over-confidence was what finally did her in when Zeus and his newly-freed siblings, fresh from their lifelong tour of Cronus' acidic gut, came to Tartarus looking to free the Hecatonchires and Cyclopes and convince their long-tortured uncles to ally with them against the Titans.

Working in secret with the Olympians when Kampe's attention was elsewhere, the Cyclopes built the very weapons that each god would become known for in their soon-to-begin careers; Zeus' thunderbolt, Poseidon's trident and Hades' Helm of Invisibility.

The gods would get a chance to use their new mega-weapons against Kampe to free the Cyclopes and the Hecatonchires from their hated prison once and for all, and in the end, though the battle between gods and guard was fierce, bloodcurdling and lasted untold hours, the combined onslaught of the weapons brought to bear against the foul jailkeeper were just too much. Kampe was completely and utterly incinerated and her red-glowing ashes blew out on the hot, searing winds of Tartarus, becoming one again with her hellish "father." From that point on, Tartarus would have to look after it's own prisoners...



[1] "Mrpsmythopedia"

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