Monocerus
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Source: Koninklijke Bibliotheek - Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts Copyright 2002 Koninklijke Bibliotheek / Used by permission Manuscript description Koninklijke Bibliotheek, KB, KA 16, Folio 71r


 

Monocerus

Latin name: Monocerus

Other names: Monoceros, Rhinoceros, Unicorn

A fierce beast with a single long horn

 

 
General Attributes

Some sources treat the monocerus and the unicorn as the same beast, while others consider them two different beasts. In those that consider them as different, the monocerus is usually described as having the head of a stag, the body of a horse, the feet of an elephant, the tail of a boar, and a single very long black horn growing from the forehead. It makes deep lowing sounds. It is the enemy of the elephant and when fighting it aims at the belly of its opponent. The monocerus is probably based on the Indian or African rhinoceros.

See the entry for the unicorn for other traits sometimes ascribed to the monocerus.


Sources (chronological order)

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 8, 31): Pliny does not distinguish between the monocerus and the unicorn.

Solinus (52.39, 40):


Illustration

The illustrations for the monocerus and the unicorn are often similar, and sometimes the only way to know which is intended is to read the accompanying text. The monocerus is usually larger, with a very long horn, and the illustration does not include the maiden. Some manuscripts illustrate both the monocerus and the unicorn, including Bodleian Library, MS. Ashmole 1511 and British Library, Harley MS 3244.


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