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Mythical Creatures -

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

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

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 ...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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

"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...

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...


He also mentions and delineates a curious Ape which closely resembles
the classical Satyr: "Under the Equinoctiall, toward the East and
South, there is a kind of Ape called AEgopithecus, an Ape like a Goate.
For there are Apes like Beares, called Arctopitheci, and some like
Lyons, called Leontopitheci, and some like Dogs, called Cynocephali,
as is before expressed; and many other which have a mixt resemblance of
other creatures in their members.

"Amongst the rest there is a beast called PAN; who in his head, face,
horns, legs, and from the loynes downward resembleth a Goat, but in his
belly, breast, and armes, an Ape: such a one was sent by the King of
Indians to Constantine, which, being shut up in a cave or close place,
by reason of the wildnesse thereof, lived there but a season, and when
it was dead and bowelled, they pouldred it with spices, and carried it
to be seene at Constantinople: the which beast having beene seene of the
ancient Graecians, were so amazed at the strangenesse thereof, that they
received it for a God, as they did a Satyre, and other strange beasts."

I have said that Topsell has mixed the Ape and the Satyr,
inextricably--but as his version has the charm of description and
anecdote, I give it with little curtailment.

"As the Cynocephali, or Baboun Apes have given occasion to some to
imagine (though falsly) there were such men, so the Satyre, a most
rare and seldom seene beast, hath occasioned other to thinke it was a
Devil; and the Poets with their Apes, the Painters, Limners, and
Carvers, to encrease that superstition, have therefore described him
with hornes on his head, and feet like Goates, whereas Satires have
neither of both. And it may be that Devils have at some time appeared to
men in this likenes, as they have done in the likeness of the
Onocentaure and wild Asse, and other shapes; it being also probable
that Devils take not any daenomination or shape from Satyres, but rather
the Apes themselves, from Devils whom they resemble, for there are many
things common to the Satyre Apes, and devilish Satyres, as their human
shape, their abode in solitary places, their rough hayre, and lust to
women, wherewith all other Apes are naturally infected; but especially

"Peradventure the name of Satyre is more fitly derived from the Hebrew,
Sair, Esa. 34, whereof the plural is Seirim, Esa. 13, which is
interpreted monsters of the Desart, or rough hairy Fawnes; and when
Iisim is put to Seir, it signifieth Goats.

"The Chaldaeans, for Seirim, render Schedin; that is, evill
devills; and the Arabians, lesejathin, that is Satanas: the
Persyans, Devan, the Illyrians, Devadai, and Dewas: the
Germans, Teufel. They which passed through the world, and exercised
dauncing and other sports for Dionisius, were called Satyres, and
sometimes Tytiri, because of their wanton songes; sometimes Sileni
(although the difference is, that the smaller and younger beasts are
called Satiri, the elder, and greater, Sileni;) Also Bacchae and
Nymphae, wherefore Bacchus is pictured riding in a chariot of vine
branches, Silenus ridinge beside him on an Asse, and the Bacchae or
Satyres shaking togetheer their staulkie Javelines and Paulmers.[27]
By reason of their leaping they are called Scirti, and the anticke or
satyrical dauncing, Sicinnis, and they also sometimes Sicinnistae;
sometimes AEgipanae; wherefore Pliny reporteth, that among the
westerne Ethiopians, there are certain little hilles full of the
Satirique AEgipanae, and that, in the night-time they use great fires,
piping and dansing, with a wonderful noise of Tymbrels and Cymbals; and
so also in Atlas amongest the Moores, whereof there was no footing,
remnant, or appearance, to be found in the daytime.

"... There are also Satires in the Eastern mountaines of India, in
the country of the Cartaduli, and in the province of the Comari and
Corudae, but the Cebi spoken of before, bred in Ethiopia, are not
Satyres (though faced like them:) nor the Prasyan Apes, which
resemble Satyres in short beards. There are many kindes of these
Satyres better distinguished by names than any properties naturall
known unto us. Such are the AEgipanae, before declared, Nymphes of the
Poets, Fawnes, Pan and Sileni, which, in time of the Gentiles were
worshipped for Gods; and it was one part of their religion to set up the
picture of a Satyre at their dores and gates, for a remedy against the
bewitching of envious persons.

"... Satyres have no humaine conditions in them, nor any other
resemblance of men besides their outward shape; though Solinus speakes
of them like as of men. They carry their meate under their chin as in a
store house, and from thence being hungry, they take it forth to eat,
making it ordinary with them every day, which is but annuall in the
Formicae lions; being of very unquiet motions above other Apes. They
are hardly taken, except sicke, great with yong, old or asleepe; for
Sylla had a Satyre brought him, which was taken asleepe neare
Apollonia, in the holy place Nymphaeum, of whom he (by divers
interpreters) demanded many questions, but received no answer, save only
a voice very much like the neighing of a horse, wherof he being afraid,
sent him away alive.

"Philostratus telleth another history, how that Apollonius and his
colleagues, supping in a village of Ethiopia, beyond the fall of
Nilus, they heard a sudden outcry of women calling to one another;
some saying, Take him, others, Follow him; likewise provoking their
husbands to helpe them: the men presently tooke clubs, stones, or what
came first to hand, complaining of an injury done unto their wives. Now
some ten moneths before, there had appeared a fearfull shew of a Satyre,
raging upon their women, and had slain two of them, with whom he was in
love: the companions of Apollonius quaked at the hearing hereof, and
Nilus, one of them, swore (by Jove) that they being naked and
unarmed, could not be able to resist him in his outragious lust, but
that he would accomplish his wantonnes as before: yet, said
Apollonius, there is a remedy to quaile these wanton-leaping beasts,
which men say Midas used (for Midas was of kindred to Satyres, as
appeared by his eares). This Midas heard his mother say, that
Satyres loved to be drunke with wine, and then sleep soundly, and
after that, be so moderate, mild and gentle, that a man might thinke
they had lost their first nature.

"Whereupon he put wine into a fountain neere the highway, whereof, when
the Satyre had tasted, he waxed meeke suddenly, and was overcome. Now
that we thinke not this a fable (saith Apollonius) let us go to the
Governor of the Towne, and inquire of him whether there be any wine to
be had that we may offer it to the Satyre, wherunto all consented, and
they filled foure great Egyptian earthen vessels with wine, and put it
in the fountain where their cattel were watred: this done, Apollonius
called the Satyre, secretly thretning him, and the Satire, inraged
with the savour of the wine came; after he had drunke thereof, Now, said
Apollonius, let us sacrifice to the Satyre, for he sleepeth, and so
led the inhabitants to the dens of the Nymphs, distant a furlong from
the towne, and shewed them the Satyre saying; Neither beat, cursse, or
provoke him henceforth, and he shall never harme you.

"It is certaine, that the devills do many waies delude men in the
likeness of Satyres; for, when the drunken feasts of Bacchus were
yearely celebrated in Parnassus, there were many sightes of Satyres,
and voyces, and sounding of cymbals heard: yet it is likely that there
are men also like Satyres, inhabiting in some desart places; for S.
Ierom, in the life of Paul the Eremite, reporteth that there appeared
to S. Anthony, an Hippocentaure such as the Poets describe, and
presently he saw, in a rocky valley adjoining, a little man having
croked nostrils, hornes growing out of his forhed, and the neather part
of his body had Goat's feet; the holy man, not dismayed, taking the
shield of faith, and the breastplate of righteousnesse, like a good
souldior of Christ, pressed toward him, which brought him some fruites
of palmes as pledges of his peace, upon which he fed in the journey;
which Saint Anthony perceiving, he asked him who he was, and received

this answere; I am a mortall creature, one of the inhabitants of this
Desart, whom the Gentiles (deceived with error) doe worship, and call
Fauni, Satyres, and Incubi: I am come in ambassage from our
flocke, intreating that thou would'st pray for us unto the common GOD,
who came to save the world; the which words were no sooner ended, but he
ran away as fast as any foule could fly. And least this should seeme
false, under Constantine at Alexandria there was such a man to be
seene alive, and was a publick spectacle to all the World; the carcasse
thereof, after his death, was kept from corruption by heat, through
salt, and was carried to Antiocha that the Emperor himself might see

"Satyres are very sildom seene, and taken with great difficulty, as is
before saide: for there were two of these founde in the woods of
Saxony towards Dacia, in a desart, the female was killed by the
darts of the hunters, and the biting of Dogs, but the male was taken
alive, being in the upper parts like a man, and in the neather partes
like a Goat, but all hairy throughout: he was brought to be tame, and
learned to go upright, and also to speake some wordes, but with a voice
like a Goat, and without all reason.

"The famous learned man George Fabricius, shewed me this shape of a
monstrous beast that is fit to be joyned to the story of Satyres.
There was, (saide he,) in the territory of the Bishop of Salceburgh,
in a forrest called Fannesbergh, a certaine foure-footed beast, of a
yellowish carnation colour, but so wilde that he would never be drawne
to looke upon any man, hiding himselfe in the darkest places, and beeing
watched diligently, would not be provoked to come forth so much as to
eate his meate--so that in a very short time it was famished. The hinder
legs were much unlike the former, and also much longer. It was taken
about the year of the Lord, one thousand five hundred, thirty, whose
image being here so lively described, may save us further labour in
discoursing of his maine and different parts and proportion."

Next: The Sphynx

Previous: The Ouran Outan

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