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Encyclopedia > Basilisk
Woodblock print of a basilisk from Ulisse Aldrovandi, Monstrorum historia, 1642
Woodblock print of a basilisk from Ulisse Aldrovandi, Monstrorum historia, 1642
Cityseal of Zwolle from 1295 with Saint-Michael killing a basilisk
Cityseal of Zwolle from 1295 with Saint-Michael killing a basilisk

In European bestiaries and legends, as well as the popular book and movie "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets", a basilisk (from the Greek βασιλίσκος basiliskos, a little king, in Latin Regulus) is a legendary reptile reputed to be king of serpents and said to have the power of causing death by a single glance. According to the Naturalis Historia of Pliny the Elder, the basilisk is a small snake that is so venomous that it leaves a wide trail of deadly venom in its wake, and its gaze is likewise lethal. The rooster's crow is deadly to the Basilisk. Look up basilisk in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Image File history File links Basilisk_aldrovandi. ... Image File history File links Basilisk_aldrovandi. ... Yuan dynasty woodblock edition of a Chinese play Woodblock printing is a technique for printing text or images used widely throughout East Asia and originating in China sometime between the mid-6th and late 9th centuries. ... Ulisse Aldrovandi Ulisse Aldrovandi (11 September 1522 - 10 November 1605) was an Italian naturalist, the moving force behind Bolognas botanical garden, one of the first in Europe. ... Image File history File links Sint_Michael_Zwolle_Stadszegel_1295. ... Image File history File links Sint_Michael_Zwolle_Stadszegel_1295. ... For other places with the same name, see Zwolle (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Europe (disambiguation). ... A bestiary is a medieval book that has short descriptions of various real or imaginary animals, birds and even rocks. ... For other uses, see Legend (disambiguation). ... “HP2” redirects here. ... For other uses, see Legend (disambiguation). ... Reptilia redirects here. ... For other uses, see Serpent (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Death (disambiguation), Dead (disambiguation), or Death (band). ... Naturalis Historia Pliny the Elders Natural History is an encyclopedia written by Pliny the Elder. ... Pliny the Elder: an imaginative 19th Century portrait. ... Wasp sting, with droplet of venom Venom (literally, poison of animal origin) is any of a variety of toxins used by animals, for the purpose of defense and hunting. ...


Basilisk is also the name of a genus of small lizards, (family Corytophanidae). The Green Basilisk, also called plumed basilisk, is a lizard that can run across the surface of water. Classification Family Corytophanidae Genus Basiliscus Genus Corytophanes Genus Laemanctus Categories: Lizards | Corytophanids ... Binomial name Basiliscus plumifrons (Cope, 1876) The plumed basilisk (Basiliscus plumifrons) is a species of lizard native to Latin America. ...

Contents

Accounts

There are three descriptions to the image of the basilisk: a huge multi-limbed lizard, a giant snake, or a three-foot high cockerel with a snake's tail and teeth, all of which are shared with the cockatrice. It is called "king" because it is reputed to have on its head a mitre- or crown-shaped crest. Stories of the basilisk place it in the same general family as the cockatrice. The basilisk is fabulously alleged to be hatched by a cockerel from the egg of a serpent (the reverse of the cockatrice, which was hatched from a cockerel's "egg" incubated by a serpent's nest). In Medieval Europe, the description of the creature began taking on features from cockerels. ... Cockatrice A cockatrice is a legendary creature, an ornament in the drama and poetry of the Elizabethans (Breiner). ... This article is about the ceremonial head-dress; see also mitre (disambiguation). ... Canine skull showing sagittal crest A sagittal crest is a ridge of bone running lengthwise along the midline of the top of the skull (at the sagittal suture) of many mammalian and reptilian skulls, among others. ... The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ...


One of the earliest accounts of the basilisk comes from Pliny the Elder's Natural History, written in roughly 79 AD. He describes the catoblepas, a monstrous cow-like creature to whom "there is not one that looketh upon his eyes, but hee dyeth presently."[1], and then goes on to say, Pliny the Elder: an imaginative 19th Century portrait. ... Naturalis Historia, 1669 edition, title page. ... The catoblepas (from the Greek καταβλέπω, to look downwards) is a legendary creature from Ethiopia, described first by Pliny the Elder and later by Claudius Aelianus. ...

The like propertie hath the serpent called a Basiliske: bred it is in the province Cyrenaica, and is not above twelve fingers-breadth long: a white spot like a starre it carrieth on the head, and setteth it out like a coronet or diademe: if he but hisse once, no other serpents dare come neere: he creepeth not winding and crawling by as other serpents doe, with one part of the bodie driving the other forward, but goeth upright and aloft from the ground with the one halfe part of his bodie: he killeth all trees and shrubs not only that he toucheth, but that he doth breath upon also: as for grasse and hearbs, those hee sindgeth and burneth up, yea and breaketh stones in sunder: so venimous and deadly is he. It is received for a truth, that one of them upon a time was killed with a launce by an horseman from his horseback, but the poison was so strong that went from his bodie along the staffe, as it killed both horse and man: and yet a sillie weazle hath a deadly power to kill this monstrous serpent, as pernicious as it is [for may kings have been desirous to see the experience thereof, and the manner how he is killed.] See how Nature hath delighted to match everything in the world with a concurrent. The manner is, to cast these weazles into their holes and cranies where they lye, (and easie they be to knowe, by the stinking sent of the place all about them:) they are not so soone within, but they overcome them with their strong smell, but they die themselves withall; and so Nature for her pleasure hath the combat dispatched.

A putto kills a basilisk, symbolic of Swedish occupiers and Protestant heresy, on the Mariensäule, Munich, erected in 1638
A putto kills a basilisk, symbolic of Swedish occupiers and Protestant heresy, on the Mariensäule, Munich, erected in 1638

The Venerable Bede was the first to attest to the legend of the birth of a basilisk from an egg by an old cockerel, then other authors added the condition of Sirius being ascendant. Isidore of Seville defined the basilisk as the king of snakes, due to its killing glare and its poisonous breath. Alexander Neckham was the first to say that not the glare but the "air corruption" was the killing tool of the basilisk, a theory developed one century later by Pietro d'Abano. Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 428 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (1646 × 2304 pixel, file size: 969 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 428 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (1646 × 2304 pixel, file size: 969 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... The victory of Gustavus Adolphus at the Battle of Breitenfeld (1631) The Thirty Years War was a conflict fought between the years 1618 and 1648, principally in the central European territory of the Holy Roman Empire, but also involving most of the major continental powers. ... Marienplatz with Mariensäule Virgin Mary atop the Mariensäule The Mariensäule is a Marian column located on the Marienplatz in Munich, Germany. ... For other uses, see Bede (disambiguation). ... ... For other uses, see Sirius (disambiguation). ... Saint Isidore of Seville (Spanish: or ) (c. ... Alexander Neckam (September 8, 1157 _ 1217), was an English scientist and teacher. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ...


Theophilus Presbyter gives a long recipe in his book for creating a basilisk in order to convert copper into "Spanish gold" (De auro hyspanico). Theophilus Presbyter (approx. ... For other uses, see Copper (disambiguation). ... GOLD refers to one of the following: GOLD (IEEE) is an IEEE program designed to garner more student members at the university level (Graduates of the Last Decade). ...


Albertus Magnus in the De animalibus wrote about the killing gaze of the basilisk, but he denied other legends, such as the rooster hatching the egg. He gave as source of those legends Hermes Trismegistus, who is credited also as the creator of the story about the basilisk's ashes being able to convert silver into gold: the attribution is absolutely incorrect, but it shows how the legends of the basilisk were already linked to alchemy in XIII century. Albertus Magnus (b. ... Hermes Trismegistus (Greek: , thrice-great Hermes; Latin: Mercurius ter Maximus) is the syncretism of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth. ... This article is about the chemical element. ... GOLD refers to one of the following: GOLD (IEEE) is an IEEE program designed to garner more student members at the university level (Graduates of the Last Decade). ... For other uses, see Alchemy (disambiguation). ...


Geoffrey Chaucer featured a basilicok (as he called it) in his Canterbury Tales. According to some legends, basilisks can be killed by hearing the crow of a rooster[attribution needed] or gazing at itself through a mirror. The latter method of killing the beast is featured in the legend of the basilisk living in Warsaw, killed by a man carrying a set of mirrors (the most famous version of the legend was written by Artur Oppman). Chaucer redirects here. ... Canterbury Tales Woodcut 1484 The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century (two of them in prose, the rest in verse). ... For other uses, see Warsaw (disambiguation) and Warszawa (disambiguation). ...


Stories gradually added to the basilisk's deadly capabilities, such as describing it as a larger beast, capable of breathing fire and killing with the sound of its voice. Some writers even claimed that it could kill not only by touch, but also by touching something that is touching the victim, like a sword held in their hand. Also, some stories claim their breath is highly toxic and will cause death, usually immediately. The basilisk is also the guardian creature of the Swiss city Basel. For other uses, see Basel (disambiguation). ...


The basilisk was, however, believed to be vulnerable to roosters. Travellers in the Middle Ages sometimes carried roosters with them as protection.[2]


Leonardo da Vinci included a basilisk in his Bestiary, saying it is so utterly cruel that when it cannot kill animals by its baleful gaze, it turns upon herbs and plants, and fixing its gaze on them withers them up. “Da Vinci” redirects here. ... A bestiary is a medieval book that has short descriptions of various real or imaginary animals, birds and even rocks. ...


In his Notebooks, he describes the basilisk:

This is found in the province of Cyrenaica and is not more than 12 fingers long. It has on its head a white spot after the fashion of a diadem. It scares all serpents with its whistling. It resembles a snake, but does not move by wriggling but from the centre forwards to the right. It is said that one of these, being killed with a spear by one who was on horse-back, and its venom flowing on the spear, not only the man but the horse also died. It spoils the wheat and not only that which it touches, but where it breathes the grass dries and the stones are split.

Then Leonardo says the following on the weasel: "This beast finding the lair of the basilisk kills it with the smell of its urine, and this smell, indeed, often kills the weasel itself." The Roman Empire ca. ... For other uses, see Weasel (disambiguation). ...


Euhemeristic accounts

Some have speculated a euhemeristic explanation for the basilisk, in particular that reports of cobras may have given birth to the stories of the monster. Cobras can maintain an upright posture, and, as with many snakes in overlapping territories, are often killed by mongooses. The king cobra or Hamadryad has a crownlike symbol on its head. Another family of eleven species of cobras can incapacitate from a distance by spitting venom, and may well have been confused by similar appearance with the Hamadryad. The Egyptian cobra lives in the desert and was used as a symbol of royalty.[3] Euhemerus (Ευήμερος) (working late 4th century BCE) was a Greek mythographer at the court of Cassander, the king of Macedonia. ... Egyptian Cobra, Naga haje This article is about snakes. ... For other uses, see Mongoose (disambiguation). ... Binomial name Cantor, 1836 Range (in red) The King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) is the worlds longest venomous snake, growing to a length of 18. ...


Literary references

In Richard III, William Shakespeare had a widow, on hearing the compliments to her eyes from her husband's brother and murderer, retort that she wishes they were a basilisk's, to kill him.[4] Another famous reference to the basilisk is found in John Gay’s "The Beggar's Opera" (Act II, Air XXV): Frontispage of the First Quarto Richard The Third. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... John Gay John Gay (30 June 1685 - 4 December 1732) was an English poet and dramatist. ...

Man may escape from Rope and Gun;
Nay, some have out liv'd the Doctor's Pill;
Who takes a Woman must be undone,
That Basilisk is sure to kill”.[5]

In the chapter XVI of The Zadig, Voltaire mentions a basilisk, “an Animal, that will not suffer itself to be touch'd by a Man”.[6] Percy Bysshe Shelley in his "Ode to Naples" alludes to the basilisk: For the singer of the same name, see Voltaire (musician). ... Percy Bysshe Shelley (August 4, 1792 – July 8, 1822; pronounced ) was one of the major English Romantic poets and is widely considered to be among the finest lyric poets of the English language. ...

Be thou like the imperial basilisk,
Killing thy foe with unapparent wounds!
Gaze on oppression, till at that dread risk,
Aghast she pass from the earth’s disk.
Fear not, but gaze,- for freemen mightier grow,
And slaves more feeble, gazing on their foe.”.[7]

A large, snake-like Basilisk was featured in the book Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and was portrayed as a much larger creature than the true mythological character. It was described as coming from a chickens egg, hatched by a toad. In the movie, the basilisk was much more serpentine, resembling an enormous snake more than anything else. It had yellow eyes that caused death to anyone who looks into them. According to an encyclopedia page found by Hermione Granger, "Spiders flee before it...the cry of a rooster is fatal to it". Additionally, Fawkes the Phoenix saving Harry from being killed by the Basilisk is a variation on the original lore.[8] Harry Potter series. ... “HP2” redirects here. ... Hermione Jean Granger (first name pronounced IPA: ) is a fictional character in J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter series. ... Harry Potter character. ... For other mythic firebirds, see Fire bird (mythology). ...


Modern reuse

Reuse in modern fantasy

For basilisks in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, see Basilisk (Dungeons & Dragons).

Basilisks have been re-imagined and employed in modern fantasy fiction for books, movies, and role-playing games, with wide variations on the powers and weaknesses attributed to them. Most of these depictions describe a reptile of some sort, with the power to petrify its victims, such as in J. K. Rowling's book Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets This article is about the role-playing game. ... This article is about games in which one plays the role of a character. ... In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, the basilisk is a reptilian magical beast that turns creatures to stone by meeting their gaze. ... For other uses, see Fantasy (disambiguation). ... This article is about games in which one plays the role of a character. ... In geology, petrifaction or petrification is the process by which organic material is converted into stone or a similar substance. ... Joanne Jo Murray, née Rowling OBE[1] (born 31 July 1965),[2] who writes under the pen name J. K. Rowling,[3] is an British writer and author of the Harry Potter fantasy series. ... “HP2” redirects here. ...


Reuse in science

Main article: Basiliscus (genus)

Like the words "vampires" and "lemures", biology science reuse mythological concepts to name animal species. Basilisks in science refers to the genus Basiliscus of South American lizards, containing about four species. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (2240x1488, 551 KB) Image information Plumed Basilisk (Basiliscus plumifrons) Source: Marcel Burkhard alias cele4 - http://www. ... Species Basiliscus basiliscus Basiliscus galeritus Basiliscus plumifrons Basiliscus vittatus Basiliscus is a genus of lizards that includes the basilisks. ... Genera Desmodus Diphylla Diaemus Vampire bats are bats that feed on blood (hematophagy). ... Superfamilies and Families Cheirogaleoidea Cheirogaleidae Lemuroidea Lemuridae Lepilemuridae Indriidae Lemurs make up the infraorder Lemuriformes and are members of a class of primates known as prosimians. ... South America South America is a continent crossed by the equator, with most of its area in the Southern Hemisphere. ...


References

  • (Italian) Il sacro artefice, Paolo Galloni, Laterza, Bari 1998 (about the hystorical background of basiliscus during the Middle Ages).
  1. ^ Philomon Holland (translator) (1601). The Historie of the World Booke VIII. Retrieved on 2007-06-25.
  2. ^ David Colbert, The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter, p 36, ISBN 0-9708442-0-4
  3. ^ Peter Costello (1979). The Magic Zoo: The Natural History of Fabulous Animals. Sphere Ltd., 129. 
  4. ^ David Colbert, The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter, p 36, ISBN 0-9708442-0-4
  5. ^ John Gay, The Beggar's Opera , http://www.fullbooks.com/The-Beggar-s-Opera.html
  6. ^ Voltaire, The Zadig, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/18972/18972-8.txt
  7. ^ Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ode to Naples, The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, http://www.online-literature.com/shelley_percy/complete-works-of-shelley/120/
  8. ^ David Colbert, The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter, p 35-6, ISBN 0-9708442-0-4

For other uses, see Bari (disambiguation). ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era in the 21st century. ... is the 176th day of the year (177th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

See also

The Basislico chilote is a creature from Chilota mythology originating in southern Chile. ... Cockatrice A cockatrice is a legendary creature, an ornament in the drama and poetry of the Elizabethans (Breiner). ...

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Basilisk

  Results from FactBites:
 
Basilisk - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (557 words)
In Greek and European bestiaries and legends, a basilisk (from the Greek basiliskos, a little king, in Latin Regulus) is a legendary reptile reputed to be king of serpents and said to have the power of causing death by a single glance.
There are three descriptions to the image of the basilisk: a huge lizard, a giant snake or a three-foot high cockerel with a snake's tail and teeth, all of which are shared with the cockatrice.
The basilisk is fabulously alleged to be hatched by a cockerel from the egg of a serpent (the reverse of the cockatrice, which was hatched from a hen's egg incubated by a serpent's nest).
basilisk - definition of basilisk in Encyclopedia (327 words)
A basilisk (from the Greek basileus, a king) is a legendary reptile reputed to be king of serpents and said to have the power of causing death by look alone.
The basilisk is fabulously alleged to be hatched by a serpent or reptile from a cock's egg.
In military history, a basilisk is a large brass cannon, said to have been named for its resemblance to the large-variety mythical basilisk in size and potential.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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