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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 Wolf








The Wolf, as a beast of prey, is invested with a terror peculiarly its
own; when solitary, it is not much dreaded by, and generally shrinks
from, man, but, united by hunger into packs, they are truly to be
dreaded, for they spare not man nor beast. They lie, too, under the
imputation of magic, and have done so from a very early age. Their
cunning, instinct, or reasoning powers, are almost as well developed as
in the fox, and, of all the authorities I have consulted, the one best
fitted to discourse upon the Wolf and his peculiarities is Topsell, and
here is one of their idiosyncrasies:--

"It is said that Wolves doe also eate a kind of earth called Argilla,
which they doe not for hunger, but to make their bellies waigh heavy, to
the intent, that when they set upon a Horsse, an Oxe, a Hart, an Elke,
or some such strong beast, they may waigh the heavier, and hang fast at
their throates till they have pulled them downe, for by vertue of that
tenacious earth, their teeth are sharpened, and the waight of their
bodies encreased; but, when they have killed the beast that they set
upon, before they touch any part of his flesh, by a kind of natural
vomit, they disgorge themselves, and empty their bellies of the earth,
as unprofitable food....

"They also devoure Goates and Swyne of all sortes, except Bores, who doe
not easily yeald unto Wolves. It is said that a Sow, hath resisted a
Wolfe, and when he fighteth with her, hee is forced to use his greatest
craft and suttelty, leaping to and from her with his best activity,
least she should lay her teeth upon him, and so at one time deceive him
of his prey, and deprive him of his life. It is reported of one that saw
a Wolfe in a Wood, take in his mouth a peece of Timber of some thirty or
forty pound waight, and with that he did practise to leape over the
trunke of a tree that lay upon the earth; at length, when he perceived
his own ability and dexterity in leaping with that waight in his mouth,
he did there make his cave, and lodged behinde that tree; at last, it
fortuned there came a wild Sow to seeke for meat along by that tree,
with divers of her pigs following her, of different age, some a yeare
olde, some halfe a yeare, and some lesse. When he saw them neare him, he
suddenly set upon one of them, which he conjectured was about the waite
of Wood which he carried in his mouth, and when he had taken him,
whilest the old Sow came to deliver her pig at his first crying, he
suddenly leaped over the tree with the pig in his mouth, and so was the
poore Sow beguiled of her young one, for she could not leape after him,
and yet might stand and see the Wolfe to eate the pigge, which hee had
taken from her. It is also sayd, that when they will deceive Goates,
they come unto them with the greene leaves and small boughes of Osiers
in their mouthes, wherewithall they know Goats are delighted, that so
they may draw them therewith, as to a baite, to devour them.

"Their maner is, when they fal upon a Goat or a Hog, or some such other
beast of smal stature, not to kil them, but to lead them by the eare
with al the speed they can drive them, to their fellow Wolves, and, if
the beast be stubborne, and wil not runne with him, then he beateth his
hinder parts with his taile, in the mean time holding his ear fast in
his mouth, whereby he causeth the poore beast to run as fast, or faster
than himselfe unto the place of his owne execution, where he findeth a
crew of ravening Wolves to entertaine him, who, at his first appearance
seize upon him, and, like Divels teare him in peeces in a moment,
leaving nothing uneaten but onely his bowels....

"Now although there be a great difference betwixt him and a Bul, both in
strength and stature, yet he is not affraid to adventure combat,
trusting in his policy more than his vigor, for when he setteth upon a
Bul, he commeth not upon the front for feare of his hornes, nor yet
behind him for feare of his heeles, but first of al standeth a loofe
from him, with his glaring eyes, daring and provoking the Bul, making
often profers to come neere unto him, yet is wise enough to keepe a
loofe till he spy his advauntage, and then he leapeth suddenly upon the
backe of the Bul at the one side, and being so ascended, taketh such
hold, that he killeth the beast, before he loosen his teeth. It is also
worth the observation, how he draweth unto him a Calfe that wandereth
from the dam, for by singular treacherie he taketh him by the nose,
first drawing him forwarde, and then the poore beast striveth and
draweth backward, and thus they struggle togither, one pulling one way,
and the other another, till at last the Wolfe perceiving advantage, and
feeling when the Calfe pulleth heavyest, suddenly he letteth go his
hold, whereby the poore beast falleth backe upon his buttocks, and so
downe right upon his backe; then flyeth the Wolfe to his belly which is
then his upper part, and easily teareth out his bowels, so satisfieng
his hunger and greedy appetite.

"But, if they chance to see a Beast in the water, or in the marsh,
encombred with mire, they come round about him, stopping up al the
passages where he shold come out, baying at him, and threatning him, so
as the poore distressed Oxe plungeth himselfe many times over head and
eares, or at the least wise they so vex him in the mire, that they never
suffer him to come out alive. At last, when they perceive him to be
dead, and cleane without life by suffocation, it is notable to observe
their singular subtilty to drawe him out of the mire, whereby they may
eat him; for one of them goeth in, and taketh the beast by the taile,
who draweth with al the power he can, for wit without strength may
better kill a live Beast, than remove a dead one out of the mire;
therefore, he looketh behind him, and calleth for more helpe; then,
presently another of the wolves taketh that first wolve's tail in his
mouth, and a third wolf the second's, a fourth the third's, a fift the
fourth, and so forward, encreasing theyr strength, until they have
pulled the beast out into the dry lande. Sextus saith that, in case a
Wolf do see a man first, if he have about him the tip of a Wolf's taile,
he shal not neede to feare anie harme. All domestical Foure footed
beasts, which see the eie of a wolfe in the hand of a man, will
presently feare and runne away.

"If the taile of a wolfe be hung in the cratch of Oxen, they can never
eat their meate. If a horse tread upon the foote steps of a Wolfe, which
is under a Horse-man or Rider, hee breaketh in peeces, or else standeth
amazed. If a wolfe treadeth in the footsteps of a horse which draweth a
waggon, he cleaveth fast in the rode, as if he were frozen.

"If a Mare with foale, tread upon the footsteps of a wolfe, she casteth
her foal, and therefore the Egyptians, when they signifie abortment doe
picture a mare treading upon a wolf's foot. These and such other things
are reported, (but I cannot tell how true) as supernaturall accidents in
wolves. The wolfe also laboureth to overcome the Leoparde, and followeth
him from place to place, but, for as much as they dare not adventure
upon him single, or hand to hand, they gather multitudes, and so
devoure them. When wolves set upon wilde Bores, although they bee at
variance amonge themselves, yet they give over their mutual combats, and
joyne together against the Wolfe their common adversarie.

"And this is the nature of this beast, that he feareth no kind of weapon
except a stone, for, if a stone be cast at him, he presently falleth
downe to avoide the stroke, for it is saide that in that place of his
body where he is wounded by a stone, there are bred certaine wormes
which doe kill and destroie him.... As the Lyon is afraide of a white
Cocke and a Mouse, so is the wolfe of a Sea crab, or shrimp. It is said
that the pipe of Pithocaris did represse the violence of wolves when
they set upon him, for he sounded the same unperfectly, and
indistinctly, at the noise whereof the raging wolfe ran away; and it
hath bin beleeved that the voice of a singing man or woman worketh the
same effect.

"Concerning the enimies of wolves, there is no doubt but that such a
ravening beast hath fewe friends, ... for this cause, in some of the
inferiour beasts their hatred lasteth after death, as many Authors have
observed; for, if a sheepe skinne be hanged up with a wolves's skin, the
wool falleth off from it, and, if an instrument be stringed with
stringes made of both these beasts the one will give no sounde in the
presence of the other."

Here we have had all the bad qualities of the Wolf depicted in glowing
colours; but, as a faithful historian, I must show him also under his
most favourable aspect--notably in two instances--one the she-wolf that
suckled Romulus and Remus, and the other who watched so tenderly over
the head of the Saxon Edmund, King and Martyr, after it had been severed
from his body by the Danes, and contemptuously thrown by them into a
thicket. His mourning followers found the body, but searched for some
time for the head, without success; although they made the woods resound
with their cries of "Where artow, Edward?" After a few days' search, a
voice answered their inquiries, with "Here, here, here." And, guided by
the supernatural voice, they came upon the King's head, surrounded by a
glory, and watched over, so as to protect it from all harm--by a WOLF!
The head was applied deftly to the body, which it joined naturally;
indeed, so good a job was it, that the junction could only be perceived
by a thin red, or purple, line.

It must be said of this wolf, that he was thorough, for not content
with having preserved the head of the Saintly King from harm, he meekly
followed the body to St. Edmund's Bury, and waited there until the
funeral; when he quietly trotted back, none hindering him, to the
forest.





Next: Were-wolves

Previous: The Fox



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