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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...



The Leontophonus The Pegasus The Crocotta








The Lion has a dreadful enemy, according to Pliny, who says:--"We have
heard speak of a small animal to which the name of Leontophonus[36]
has been given, and which is said to exist only in those countries where
the Lion is produced. If its flesh is only tasted by the Lion, so
intensely venomous is its nature, that this lord of the other quadrupeds
instantly expires. Hence it is that the hunters of the Lion burn its
body to ashes, and sprinkle a piece of flesh with the powder, and so
kill the Lion by means of its ashes even--so fatal to it is this poison!
The Lion, therefore, not without reason, hates the Leontophonus, and,
after destroying its sight, kills it without inflicting a bite: the
animal, on the other hand, sprinkles the Lion with its urine, being well
aware that this, too, is fatal to it."

We have read, in the Romances of Chivalry, how that Guy, Earl of
Warwick, having seen a Lion and a Dragon fighting, went to the
assistance of the former, and, having killed its opponent, the Lion
meekly trotted after him, and ever after, until its death, was his
constant companion. How, in the absence of Sir Bevis of Hampton, two
lions having killed the Steward Boniface, and his horse, laid their
heads in the fair Josian's lap. The old romancists held that a lion
would always respect a virgin, and Spenser has immortalised this in his
character of Una. Most of us remember the story given by Aulus Gellius
and AElian, of Androcles, who earned a lion's gratitude by extracting a
thorn from its paw, and Pliny gives similar instances:--

"Mentor, a native of Syracuse, was met in Syria by a lion, who rolled
before him in a suppliant manner; though smitten with fear, and desirous
to escape, the wild beast on every side opposed his flight, and licked
his feet with a fawning air. Upon this, Mentor observed on the paw of
the lion, a swelling and a wound; from which, after extracting a
splinter, he relieved the creature's pain.

"In the same manner, too, Elpis, a native of Samos, on landing from a
vessel on the coast of Africa, observed a lion near the beach, opening
his mouth in a threatening manner; upon which he climbed a tree, in the
hope of escaping, while, at the same time, he invoked the aid of Father
Liber (Bacchus); for it is the appropriate time for invocations where
there is no room left for hope. The wild beast did not pursue him when
he fled, although he might easily have done so; but, lying down at the
foot of the tree, by the open mouth which had caused so much terror,
tried to excite his compassion. A bone, while he was devouring his food
with too great avidity, had stuck fast between his teeth, and he was
perishing with hunger; such being the punishment inflicted upon him by
his own weapons, every now and then he would look up, and supplicate
him, as it were, with mute entreaties. Elpis, not wishing to risk
trusting himself to so formidable a beast, remained stationary for some
time, more at last from astonishment than from fear. At length, however,
he descended from the tree, and extracted the bone, the lion, in the
meanwhile, extending his head, and aiding in the operation as far as it
was necessary for him to do. The story goes on to say, that as long as
the vessel remained off that coast, the lion shewed his sense of
gratitude by bringing whatever he had chanced to procure in the chase."

The same author mentions two curious animals, the Leucrocotta, and the
Eale, which are noticeable among other wonders:--"AEthiopia produces the
lynx in abundance, and the sphinx, which has brown hair and two mammae on
the breast, as well as many monstrous kinds of a similar nature; horses
with wings, and armed with horns, which are called pegasi: the Crocotta,
an animal which looks as though it had been produced by the union of the
wolf and the dog, for it can break anything with its teeth, and
instantly, on swallowing it, it digests it with the stomach; monkeys,
too, with black heads, the hair of the ass, and a voice quite unlike
that of any other animal."





Next: The Leucrocotta The Eale Cattle Feeding Backwards

Previous: The Lion



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