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Exploring the Unknown: The Basilisk

The basilisk and the weasel, print attributed to Wenceslas Hollar.
The basilisk and the weasel, print attributed to Wenceslas Hollar.
Wikimedia Commons/Materialscientist

The basilisk is a mythological creature that is a legendary reptile . It's called the king of the serpents, its name comes from the Greek word, basileus, which means king. The basilisk according to one myth is said to have the power of causing the death of someone with a single glance. It wasn't exactly written about as being a nice creature.

Pliny the Elder reportedly described the basilisk as a small snake that were venomous. He said that it was about 'twelve fingers tall.' It was one of the earliest accounts about that basilisk. While he wrote about how small it was, some writers have called it as being a larger creature that could breath fire. According to Unknown Explorers, the basilisk was described as three different descriptions, those are:

  • In some myths they called it a large lizard
  • Others say that it was just one big giant snake
  • And one popular one is about it being a three foot high cockerel with a snake's tail and teeth.

The legend of how the basilisk came to be is this, it is hatched by a cockerel from the egg of a serpent or toad. That was first according to Venerable Bede, he was said to be the one who created that legend about the creature.

Legends say that a basilisk can be destroyed by hearing the crow of a rooster or by gazing at its reflection in the mirror. The mongoose in some legends was said to be able to destroy the creature. In some lore about the serpent creature, you can make its ashes into gold or sliver.

Even Geoffrey Chaucer talked about the legend of the basilisk in one of his greatest works, "The Canterbury Tales." He was said to have called the legendary creature, a basilicok.

So that was an interesting but strange look at the myth of the very legendary creature, the basilisk!