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Mythical Creatures -

Amazons
The race of Amazons or fighting women, is not yet extinct, ...

Pygmies
The antitheses of men--Dwarfs, and Giants--must not be over...

Giants
This last sentence seems almost a compendium of The History...

Early Men
On the antiquity of man it is impossible to speculate, beca...

Wild Men
Sometimes a specimen of humanity has got astray in infancy,...

Hairy Men
If, as we may conjecture from the above, the ancient Briton...

The Ouran Outan
Transition from hirsute humanity to the apes, is easy, and ...

Satyrs
He also mentions and delineates a curious Ape which closely...

The Sphynx
"The SPHYNGA or Sphinx, is of the kind of Apes, but his bre...

Apes
Sluper, who could soar to the height of delineating a Cyclo...

Animal Lore
We are indebted to Pliny for much strange animal lore--whic...

The Manticora
Of curious animals, other than Apes, depicted as having som...

The Lamia
The Lamiae are mythological--and were monsters of Africa, w...

The Centaur
This extraordinary combination of man and animal is very an...

The Gorgon
In the title-page of one edition of "The Historie of Foure-...

The Unicorn
What a curious belief was that of the Unicorn! Yet what myt...

The Rhinoceros
The true Unicorn is, of course, the Rhinoceros, and this pi...

The Gulo
Olaus Magnus thus describes the Gulo or Gulon:--"Amongst...

The Bear
As Pliny not only uses all Aristotle's matter anent Bears, ...

The Fox
By Englishmen, the Fox has been raised to the height of at ...

The Wolf
The Wolf, as a beast of prey, is invested with a terror pec...

Were-wolves
But of all extraordinary stories connected with the Wolf, i...

The Antelope
When not taken from living specimens, or skins, the arti...

The Horse
Aldrovandus gives us a curious specimen of a horse, which t...

The Mimick Dog
"The Mimicke or Getulian Dogge," is, I take it, meant fo...

The Cat
Aldrovandus gives us a picture of a curly-legged Cat, but, ...

The Lion
Of the great Cat, the Lion, the ancients give many wonderfu...

The Leontophonus The Pegasus The Crocotta
The Lion has a dreadful enemy, according to Pliny, who says...

The Leucrocotta The Eale Cattle Feeding Backwards
"There are oxen, too, like that of India, some with one hor...

Animal Medicine
We have already seen some of the wonderfully curative prope...

The Su
Topsell mentions a fearful beast called the Su. "There is a...

The Lamb-tree
As a change from this awful animal, let us examine the Plan...

The Chimaera
Aldrovandus gives us the accompanying illustration of a ...

The Harpy And Siren
The conjunction of the human form with birds is very eas...

The Barnacle Goose
Of all extraordinary beliefs, that in the Barnacle Goose, w...

Remarkable Egg
No wonder that a credulous age, which could see nothing ...

Moon Woman
One would have imagined that this Egg would be sufficien...

The Griffin
There always has been a tradition of birds being existent, ...

The Phoenix
Pliny says of the Phoenix:--"AEthiopia and India, more espe...

The Swallow
"And is the swallow gone? Who beheld it? Wh...

The Martlet And Footless Birds
Of the Martin, or, as in Heraldry it is written, Martlet, G...

Snow Birds
But we must leave warm climes, and birds of Paradise, and s...

The Swan
The ancient fable so dear, even to modern poets, that Swans...

The Alle Alle
"There is also in this Lake (the White Lake) a kind of b...

The Hoopoe And Lapwing
Whether the following bird is meant for the Hoopoe, or the ...

The Ostrich
Modern observation, and especially Ostrich farming, has ...

The Halcyon
Of this bird, the Kingfisher, Aristotle thus discourses:--"...

The Pelican
The fable of the Pelican "in her piety, vulning herself,...

The Trochilus
This bird, as described by Aristotle, and others, is of a p...

Woolly Hens
Sir John Maundeville saw in "the kingdome named Mancy, whic...

Two-headed Wild Geese
Near the land of the Cynocephali or dog-headed men, there w...

Four-footed Duck
Gesner describes a four-footed duck, which he says is li...

Fish
Terrestrial and Aerial animals were far more familiar to th...

The Sea-mouse
"The Sea-Mouse makes a hole in the Earth, and lays her Eggs...

The Sea-hare
"The Sea-Hare is found to be of divers kinds in the Ocean, ...

The Sea-pig
Again we are indebted to Gesner for the drawing of thi...

The Walrus
Of the Walrus, Rosmarus, or Morse, Gesner draws, and Ola...

The Ziphius
This Voracious Animal, whose size may be imagined by compar...

The Saw Fish
"The Saw fish is also a beast of the Sea; the body is huge ...

The Orca
is probably the Thresher whale. Pliny thus describes it:--"...

The Dolphin
Pliny says:--"The Dolphin is an animal not only friendly to...

The Narwhal
generally called the Monoceros or Sea Unicorn, is thus show...

The Swamfisck
The accompanying illustration, though heading the chapte...

The Sahab
"There is also another Sea-Monster, called Sahab, which hat...

The Circhos
"There is also another Monster like to that, called Circhos...

The Remora
Of this fish Pliny writes:--"There is a very small fish tha...

The Dog-fish And Ray
Olaus Magnus writes of "The cruelty of some Fish, and th...

The Sea Dragon
Of the Ray tribe of fishes, the Sea Dragon is the most ...

The Sting Ray
Pliny mentions the Sting Ray, and ascribes to it marvellous...

Senses Of Fishes
He also tells us about the senses of fishes, and first of t...

Zoophytes
Writing on the lower phases of Marine Animal life, he says:...

Sponges
"We find three kinds of sponges mentioned; the first are th...

The Kraken
This enormous monster, peculiar to the Northern Seas, is sc...

Crayfish And Crabs
Pliny tells us that in the Indian Ocean are Crayfish four c...

The Sea-serpent
Of the antiquity of the belief in the Sea-Serpent there can...

Serpents
Of Serpents Topsell has written a "Historie," which, if not...

The Crocodile
The largest of the Saurians which we have left us, is the C...

The Basilisk And Cockatrice
Aldrovandus portrays the Basilisk with eight legs. Topse...

The Salamander
Many writers have essayed this fabled creature, but almost ...

The Toad
Toads were always considered venomous and spiteful, and the...

The Leech
The Leech has, from a very early age, been used as a means ...

The Scorpion
Of the Scorpion, Pliny says:--"This animal is a dangerous s...

The Ant
No one would credit the industrious Ant, whose ways we are ...

The Bee
The Busy Bee, too, according to Olaus Magnus, developed, in...

The Hornet
So also, up North, they seem to have had a special breed...



Animal Medicine








We have already seen some of the wonderfully curative properties of
animals--let us learn something of their own medical attainments--as
described by Pliny. "The hippopotamus has even been our instructor in
one of the operations of medicine. When the animal has become too bulky,
by continued overfeeding, it goes down to the banks of the river, and
examines the reeds which have been newly cut; as soon as it has found a
stump that is very sharp, it presses its body against it, and so wounds
one of the veins in the thigh; and by the flow of blood thus produced,
the body, which would otherwise have fallen into a morbid state, is
relieved; after which, it covers up the wound with mud.

"The bird, also, which is called the Ibis, a native of the same country
of Egypt, has shewn us some things of a similar nature. By means of its
hooked beak, it laves the body through that part by which it is
especially necessary for health, that the residuous food should be
discharged. Nor, indeed, are these the only inventions which have been
borrowed from animals to prove of use to man. The power of the herb
dittany, in extracting arrows, was first disclosed to us by stags that
had been struck by that weapon; the weapon being discharged on their
feeding upon this plant. The same animals, too, when they happen to have
been wounded by the phalangium, a species of spider, or by any insect
of a similar nature, cure themselves by eating crabs. One of the very
best remedies for the bite of the serpent, is the plant with which
lizards treat their wounds when injured in fighting with each other. The
swallow has shown us that the chelidonia is very serviceable to the
sight, by the fact of its employing it for the cure of its young, when
their eyes are affected. The tortoise recruits its powers of effectually
resisting serpents by eating the plant which is known as cunile
bubula; and the weasel feeds on rue, when it fights with the serpent
in pursuit of mice. The Stork cures itself of its diseases, with wild
marjoram, and the wild boar with ivy, as also by eating crabs, and,
more particularly, those that have been thrown up by the sea.

"The snake, when the membrane which covers its body, has been contracted
by the cold of winter, throws it off in the spring, by the aid of the
juices of fennel, and thus becomes sleek and youthful in appearance.
First of all it disengages the head, and then it takes no less than a
day and a night in working itself out, and divesting itself of the
membrane in which it has been enclosed. The same animal, too, on finding
its sight weakened during its winter retreat, anoints and refreshes its
eyes by rubbing itself on the plant called fennel, or marathrum;
but, if any of the scales are slow in coming off, it rubs itself against
the thorns of the juniper. The dragon relieves the nausea which
affects it in spring, with the juices of the lettuce. The barbarous
nations go to hunt the panther, provided with meat that has been rubbed
with Aconite, which is a poison. Immediately on eating it, compression
of the throat overtakes them, from which circumstance it is, that the
plant has received the name of pardalianches (pard-strangler). The
animal, however, has found an antidote against this poison in human
excrements; besides which, it is so eager to get at them, that the
shepherds purposely suspend them in a vessel, placed so high, that the
animal cannot reach them, even by leaping, when it endeavours to get at
them; accordingly, it continues to leap, until it has quite exhausted
itself, and at last expires: otherwise, it is so tenacious of life that
it will continue to fight, long after its intestines have been dragged
out of its body.

"When an elephant has happened to devour a chameleon, which is of the
same colour with the herbage, it counteracts this poison by means of the
wild olive. Bears, when they have eaten of the fruit of the
Mandrake, lick up numbers of Ants. The Stag counteracts the effect of
poisonous plants by eating the artichoke. Wood pigeons, jackdaws,
blackbirds, and partridges, purge themselves once a year by eating bay
leaves; pigeons, turtle-doves, and poultry, with wall pellitory, or
helxine; ducks, geese, and other aquatic birds of a similar nature,
with the bulrush. The raven, when it has killed a chameleon, a contest
in which even the conqueror suffers, counteracts the poison by means of
laurel."





Next: The Su

Previous: The Leucrocotta The Eale Cattle Feeding Backwards



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