I think it is interesting to note that Greeks included the unicorn in their natural history bestiaries rather than in the mythological menagerie. That
is there is a difference between the Unicorn, and the chimera, or even Pegasus, et al.
As for the descriptions of the unicorn. Our thread skeptic kindly provided links.
One stated the unicorn had
a stag's head, elephant's feet, and a boar's tail
We have all heard mention of the rhino, but there is still the cry of, well.. it doesn't LOOK like a horse.
To that I ask, does any one know what hippopotamus means? Well, taken from it's Grecian roots, potamos means river.. (Which mean those who live by
the Potomac River likely have a river named River River, but I digress). Hippos meant - you guessed it - HORSE. A hippo is a river horse.
Now I don't know about you, but a hippo doesn't LOOK like a horse to me either, but if if the ancient Greeks thought the hippo was related to the
horse, perhaps the "horses body" they were referring to was the HIPPOS body, and NOT the body of Equus.
The horse aka HIPPO body, check. Horn in the forehead, check. Elephant's feet, check. Boar's tail.. had to do some checking, just to make sure my
memory wasn't playing games on me.. but check.
So THAT "type" of unicorn was likely a rhino.
But the mystery is NOT solved.
On the link our skeptic (which is nicer than party pooper I think) provided, you see at once
There are in India certain wild asses which are as large as horses, and larger. Their bodies are white, their heads are dark red, and their eyes dark
blue. They have a horn on the forehead which is about eighteen inches in length.
Now before we hear about the unicorn being a European creature, let me remind you that even the Asian had their version of the unicorn. Yes, there
were some physiological differences between the two, but the main thing was the Asian unicorn had a horn that curved back and the European unicorn had
a horn that was straight.
NO ONE said it jutted out straight from the forehead until fairly recently, as far as legends go. So it is not too far fetched to think that the
"European unicorn" had a straight horn which went straight BACK, instead of CURVING back which immediately brings to mind the larger African
Aristotle made mention that they were different animals.
We have never seen an animal with a solid hoof and two horns, and there are only a few that have a solid hoof and one horn, as the Indian Ass and the
The Indian ass was the above mentioned creature.
On the same link there is this passage..
They say that there are mountains in the interior regions of India which are inaccessible to men and therefore full of wild beasts. Among these is the
Unicorn, which they call the kartajan [Sanskrit: Lord of the desert].
Hmmm.. what mountains might THOSE be? Possibly the HIMALAYANS? And what would a DESERT animal be doing in the mountains?
I bring this up, because if ONE part of a statement is true why then dismiss the other part?
OK, that is like of like saying that the sky is blue, and clouds are made of cotton candy, and both are equally correct or you must give validation to
the second statement.. but you get my point.
The rest of his quote is this..
This animal is as large as a full-grown horse, and it has a mane, tawny hair, feet like those of an elephant, and the tail of a goat. It is
exceedingly swift of foot. Between its brows there stands a single black horn tapering to a very sharp point.
NOW, it seems to me this is very clear. He was doing his research, and got unicorn type one, (the rhino) mixed up with unicorn type two, (the
antelope). I mean, let's face it, a rhino could live in mountain, but would likely be quite uncomfortable.
BUT an antelope of some sort could probably be quite comfortable.. I mean, they ARE related to goats.. It is too far fetched to think that there could
have been a species that lived in the mountains?
And please, I want you all to know, horses back then were little bigger than today's ponies so they were not all that great in size, matter if they
were talking about from the shoulder or top of head. Think Arabian Horse. Need I say more?
And the other unicorn type was a rhino. And there ARE small subspecies of rhino. Even a pygmy hippo.
My personal favorite for the origin of the unicorn is the gemsbok antelope.
There are two kinds, and one kind seems to have a more greyish coat going by what I saw in an image search. I even saw a few pictures where the
animals looked white. The best one is from a dead site, so go to yahoo image search, and look up gemsbok. Second row, smack in the middle. They have
dark markings on their heads, which can look red I am certain.
But then they ARE Orxyes of a sort. At least from the same genus, or family, or whatever.
And that is OK, I believe the Oryx that Aristotle was talking about was the Scimitar Oryx of North Africa, which itself is a whitish animal, with red
The unicorn first spoken of by Ctesias could well have been the Arabian Orxy too, which is the smallest of the Oryxes..
I can imagine a sub-species in India. One that was white, and had a red head. I can imagine it going extinct also.. remember, the unicorn has always
been said to be rare.
There is no great mystery.
But I will tell you this. in my mind, in my heart, I can heard the cloven hooves of a white magical beast cantering in the woods, with a single
pearlescent horn dazzling it's head. Something of a wild and wondrous beauty, that the mind can comprehend it, and the heart can't hold it.
Something that is great, and noble, and good, and valorous.
There ARE unicorns out there. I KNOW this, with every fiber of my being. There is just some magic that science can't destroy.
Unicorns are one of them.
And think, out of every monster humanity has created, every fantastical beast, only one, was one of pure good and nobility, and that is the
It is like the myth, that says a jar bearing all the gods gift's was opened, and they all escaped but for one, that did not flee.
That gift was hope.
And in us all there is a unicorn, a fabulous beast that rears and call to arms all that is the best within us, to battle away the evils and
oppressions that we must face each day, within and without us. In us all there is hope.
Yes. There IS a unicorn. I believe that.
And I wish one day to see one for myself.
But I don't have to. Because I have hope.