Cerastes
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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 123v


 

Cerastes

Latin name: Cerastes

Other names: Carastes

An exceptionally flexible serpent with horns

 

 
General Attributes

The cerastes is the most flexible of all serpents, so flexible that is seems to have no spine. It has either two horns, which are like a ram's horns, or four pairs of small horns. The cerastes hides in the sand so that only its horns show; animals, thinking the horns are food, come close and are killed by the serpent.


Sources (chronological order)

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 4:18): The cerastes is a snake with horns like a ram's on its head; from this it gets its name, fro the Greeks call horns kerata. It has four horns, which it displays as bait, and instantly kills the animals it attracts. It covers itself with sand, leaving exposed only the part with which it catches allured birds and animals. It is so flexible that it seems to have no spine.


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