| Spoiler Alert!
Warning! This page contains spoilers for The Burning Maze.
|“||The strix says he’s been sent to drink our blood, eat our flesh and disembowel us, not necessarily in that order. He says he’s sorry, but it’s a direct command from the emperor.||”|
A Strix (also spelled Striga, Stirge, and Strige) is a mythical creature that feeds on human flesh and blood and will curse whoever kills them. If their talons scratch someone, the person will be paralyzed. According to Apollo, they will "disembowel you, drink your blood, and eat your flesh" if you let them attack you.
Strixes are birds of ill omen, when they show up bad things happen. They usually feed on young and weak people like babies and the elderly. They breed in the upper reaches of Tartarus and don't make good pets. If one strix is killed, more will appear. They become active about an hour after sundown as sunlight will cause a strix's death.
Before Rome was founded, strixes once targeted the legendary king of Latium, Procas, in his cradle when he was still a baby. A ritual to keep the striges away from the newborn prince was subsequently performed by the nymph Cranae (or goddess Carna), who owned a wand of whitethorn (spina) given her by Janus, which could expel evil from all doors. The ritual involved stroking the lintel and threshold with an arbutus branch, and placating the evil with chopped entrails of pigs, etc. The assault was interrupted but Procas received scars on his cheeks and discoloration of his skin complexion.
While in the Labyrinth with Grover Underwood and Meg McCaffrey, Apollo, still as Lester Papadopoulos, get chased by a group of strixes. In an attempt to escape them, Meg and Grover create a tomato plant barrier to seal the creatures in the tunnel. Unfortunately, one strix flies through the gap and attacks Apollo, scratching him on the cheek which paralyzes him. Then it swoops down to attack Grover, but the satyr tries to make peace with it. The strix tells him the emperor has sent them to kill the three. Meg accidentally kills the strix and helps Grover make the barrier stronger. The trio, with Apollo taped on Grover's back, begin to climb up the large column, only to find a dome. When the rest of strixes broke free, the Arrow of Dodona told the trio they could repel them using pig entrails or arbutus. Grover realizes that arbutus looks exactly like strawberries so he and Meg grow those plants to draw them away. The massive explosion from this causes the dome to explode and the sunlight kills the rest of the birds of ill omen.
Several more strixes were flying above the super-yachts of the emperor, Caligula, at night as air surveillance. It was revealed that Caligula replaced Germani with strixes, human mercenaries and pandai because they were responsible for his mortal death. Piper McLean shudders when she hears about them, she says owls tend to be evil spirits or spying medicine men in Cherokee stories.
Strixes resemble owls bigger than even the largest of Athena's. They have glistening, obsidian black plumage, leathery red claws, a golden beak with a thick black tongue, and round gold eyes.
- Strixes are commonly associated with vampires.
- Polyphonte, the mother of bear twins Oreius and Agrius, was said to have been turned into a strix by Hermes and Ares as punishment for giving birth to them. But the utter craving for human flesh and blood was given to Agrius, who was turned into a vulture, instead.