Scorpion
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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 126v


 

Scorpion

Latin name: Scorpius

Other names:

The scorpion is a worm that stings with its tail

 

 
General Attributes

The scorpion is properly classified as a worm, not a snake, according to Isidore. It stings with its tail and so injects poison into the wound. A person who is stung becomes hydrophobic. A scorpion will not strike the palm of the hand.


Sources (chronological order)

Ovid [1st century CE] (Metamorphoses, 15, 369-371): "If you remove the hollow claws of land-crabs, and put the rest under the soil, a scorpion, with its curved and threatening tail, will emerge from the parts interred".

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 11, 30): Scorpions are a plague and a curse from Africa. Their tails have a sting that is always in motion, ready to strike. Their sting is always fatal to girls and usually fatal to women, but only fatal to men if they are stung in the morning when the poison is strongest. Victims take three days to die. A drink made of the ashes of the scorpion mixed with wine is said to be a cure for their sting. The south wind gives scorpions the power of flight; it supports them when they stretch out their arms like oars.

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 11, 4:3): Scorpions are formed from the dead bodies of crabs. (Book 12, 5:4): The scorpion is a worm of the earth that is armed with a sting. It attacks with its tail and pours poison into the wound. Scorpions do not strike at the palm of the hand. (Book 12, 6:17): If ten crabs are tied with basil, all of the scorpions in that area will gather together.


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