Latin name: Catoblepas
A beast with a head so heavy it can only look down
The catoblepas is a four-legged bull-like creature with a very large and heavy head. Because of the weight of its head it can only look down (catoblepas is Greek for "that which looks downward). It has a long mane that hangs over its eyes, which are red and bloodshot. If the beast were ever to look up it would be deadly, because anyone who looks into its eyes will die immediately. It also has a foul and dangerous breath from eating poisonous plants.
|Sources (chronological order)|
Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 8, 32): The catoblepas lives near a spring in western Ethiopia, which some think to be the source of the Nile. It is of moderate size but has a very heavy head which it carries with difficulty, so that its head is always hanging down. Its eyes are deadly and anyone who sees them dies instantly.
Bartholomaeus Anglicus [13th century CE] (De proprietatibus rerum, book 18): Among the Hisperies and Ethiopians is a well, that many men trow is the head of Nile, and there beside is a wild beast that hight Catoblefas, and hath a little body, and nice in all members, and a great head hanging always toward the earth, and else it were great noying to mankind. For all that see his eyen, should die anon, and the same kind hath the cockatrice... ( Steele edition of 1905)