Scitalis
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Source: Kongelige Bibliotek (Bestiarius - Bestiary of Anne Walsh (Gl. kgl. S. 1633 4)) Copyright 2003 Kongelige Bibliotek / Used by permission Manuscript description Kongelige Bibliotek, Gl. kgl. S. 1633 4, Folio 53v


 

Scitalis

Latin name: Scitalis

Other names: Scytale

A serpent with such a marvelous appearance that it stuns the viewer

 

 
General Attributes

The scitalis is a serpent with such marvelous markings on its back that its appearance stuns the viewer, slowing the person down so that they are caught. Its heat is so great that it sheds its skin even in the winter.


Sources (chronological order)

Lucan [1st century CE] (Pharsalia, book 9, verse 841-842): "Sole of all serpents Scytale to shed / In vernal frosts his slough...".

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 4:19): The scitalis (scytale) has a skin that shines with such variety that by these marks it slows down any who see it. It creeps slowly and cannot pursue its prey, so it stupifies with its marvelous appearance. It is so hot that even in winter it sheds its skin.


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