Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday's Myths--The Basilisk

Ah, the basilisk. The most dangerous of all mythological monsters, capable of killing its prey with a look or just its mere presence. And yet today, it often takes a backseat to some of the better known creatures such as the ogre, goblin, and of course, the dragon.

From the Greek word basileus for "little king," the basilisk has grown to become the king of the serpants. Born from a spherical, yolkless egg of a seven year old rooster and hatched by a toad, it is a rare, but highly feared creature of myth.

There are two species of basilisk, both equally terrifying. While one burns everything it approaches, the other is capable of melting the flesh of or turning to stone its victims. And both can only be killed by a glance at their own reflection or the crow of a rooster. It was believed that should a knight attempt to spear a basilisk, the venom would travel up the weapon and kill both the warrior and his horse.
I've actually included the basilisk in my first novel, Tales of Morcah and hope to find another opportunity to use it in a future WIP. It's a fun creature to write about and an easy way to get your MC into a whole lot of trouble.
~Emily White


  1. At least J.K. Rowling used it.

    The thing is, I never really pictured the basilisk as a huge serpent (like in her book), but more of what you posted (half-rooster, half-reptile). Still, it worked for her story, and we're all allowed a little elbow room with myths. :)

  2. Jai,

    The basilisk is definitely one of my favorite creatures to write about. There are so many tales all over the world concerning them. I was so tempted to include it all, but it could have very quickly gotten away from me.

  3. It is an interesting creature.

    Tamora Pierce used one in her Tortall series, though Tkaa was intelligent and had control over his rockifying gaze. A scholarly sort. I love the bit where he's sampling rocks and describing the flavor. In that setting, basilisks eat rocks, though freshly changed rocks are less pleasant tasting.

  4. Jaleh,

    That sounds really awesome. I'll have to check her out at the library. Yes, the library is definitely a poor girl's best friend. :)


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