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TinWiki: Basilisk

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posted on Jul, 13 2009 @ 02:08 PM
The name Basilisk from the Greek word Basileus meaning King. The Basilisk was said to be the king of serpents and as legend tells was one of the most poisonous creatures on earth.

The Basilisk has been depicted in a few illuminated manuscripts in the Middle Ages but appeared much more often as an ornamental detail in church architecture, adorning capitals and medallions. The best representation of the Basilisk is found in the decorative field of heraldry where the basilisk had the head and legs of a cock, a snake-like tail, and a body like a bird’s. It seems that the wings could be depicted as either being covered with feathers or scales.

The ancient Romans were said to have called this creature “ regulus” or little king, this was said to be because the Basilisk terrorized all the other creatures with its poison and deadly look.

According to rural legends there are three main types of Basilisk:

The golden Basilisk- This was said to poison everything by looking at them

The evil-eyed Basilisk- This type was said to have terrorized and killed creatures with a third eye that was set on top of its head.

The sanguineness Basilisk-This Basilisk was reputed as being able to make the skin fall off the bones of its victims with its sting.

According to the legends all three of these creatures had deadly breath, which could even make rocks crumble.


The appearance of the Basilisk has always been a matter of dispute, as there is no way to see a Basilisk and survive, living to tell the tale because, according to legend, if you looked at a basilisk it would cause your death. According to the stories told through generations of people, there have been three main descriptions of the creature. They describe the basilisk as a huge lizard, a giant snake or a three-foot high cockerel with a snake’s tail and fangs. These descriptions are very similar to that of the legends of the Cockatrice.

The ancient Romans had described this creature’s color as being yellow, sometimes with a kind of blackish hue. Plinius also mentioned a white spot on his head, which could be misinterpreted as a diadem or a crown. Others speak of three spikes on his forehead.

The Basilisk was referred to as the king in some legends, as it was reputed to have had a mitre or crown-shaped crest upon its head. According to the stories of this creature it was reputed to have hatched by a cockerel from a serpents egg (the reverse from the legends of the Cockatrice, which was said to be hatched from a hen’s egg incubated by a serpent).


It is thought that the Basilisk is native to Africa, and that they can allegedly be found in desert settings as according to some its breath and sight are so destructive that it can turn any landscape into a sandy desert. There are those that believe that the Basilisk may have arisen from tales of the Egyptian cobra whose characteristics have, from oral transmission, been exaggerated. This cobra has a white marking on its head, powerful venom that he spits without the need to bite, and the ability to move with its head held upright. The mongoose, rather like a weasel, can kill cobras.

Strengths And Weaknesses

The Basilisk was said to have been able to kill, at a distance, either by producing venom or by looking at its victim. The legends state that its glance could kill instantly and its breath could break stone.

Like the stories told of the Cockatrice the Basilisk can be killed in three way:

The Weasel- People who hunted the Basilisks would often take a weasel into the Basilisk's cave, where the weasel would bite the Basilisk repeatedly. If the weasel were to be bitten, it would eat some rue, the only plant the Basilisk could not wither. The weasel would then return to full strength, renewing it's atttack.

Mirrors- As the stories go, men who hunted this creature would a mirror, which would be able to reflect the Basilisks deadly glare upon it.

A Rooster's crow- This method is also described as being able to kill this creature, it is also told in stories that a crowing cock can also kill Fairies, Ghosts and Vampires.

Basilisk Uses After Death

The Basilisk was said to be of some use to people after it had died. According to the stories, a carcass of a Basilisk was suspended in the temple of Apollo and in private houses, as a sovereign remedy against spiders. The carcass was also said to be used in the temple of Diana, as no swallow would have ever entered the sacred place.

According to various stories silver that was rubbed with the ashes of a Basilisk would give the appearance of being gold.

The Symbol Of The Basilisk

The Basilisk is almost always seen as an icon of fear. In various writings the Basilisk is said to have played many roles, Sometimes it would fall into the realm of the fabulous salamander where it would be used to symbolize the destructive fire that preceded the transmutation of metals. In other works, the elixir, or Philosopher’s Stone, a potent and mysterious catalyst that was said to turn whatever it touched to gold, cure all ills, and confer eternal life, was named the Basilisk or Cockatrice. During the Renaissance, Christianity rediscovered the creature in the context of the Old Testament and used it sparsely as an emblem of the devil and sin.


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