Jaculus
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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 124v


 

Jaculus

Latin name: Jaculus

Other names: Iaculus, Javelin-snake, Javelot

A flying serpent

 

 
General Attributes

The jaculus is a serpent that can fly. It hides in a tree until an animal passes underneath, and then it throws itself down on the animal and kills it.


Sources (chronological order)

Lucan [1st century CE] (Pharsalia, book 9, verse 848): "Swift Jaculus there...". (verse 962-966): "Upon branchless trunk a serpent, named / By Libyans Jaculus, rose in coils to dart / His venom from afar. Through Paullus' brain / It rushed, nor stayed; for in the wound itself / Was death...".

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 8, 35): The iaculus hurls itself from the branches of a tree, so that it is not only dangerous to the feet, but flies through the air like a missle from a catapult.

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 4:29): The iaculus is a flying snake. They jump from trees and dart onto passing animals, from which they get their name, darter (iaculi).


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