Ichneumon
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Ichneumon

Latin name: Ichneumon

Other names: Echinemon

Another enemy of the dragon

 

 
General Attributes

The ichneumon is the enemy of the dragon. When it sees a dragon, the ichneuman covers itself with mud, and closing its nostrils with its tail, attacks and kills the dragon. Some say it is also the enemy of the crocodile and the asp, and attacks them in the same way. This may be a confusion with the hydrus, which has these same habits.

The Greek word translated as "ichneumon" was the name used for the "pharoh's rat" or mongoose, which attacks snakes; it can also mean "otter".


Sources (chronological order)

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 8, 35-36, 37): The ichneuman is known for its willingness to fight to the death with the snake. To do this, it first covers itself with several coats of mud, drying each coat in the sun to form a kind of armor. When ready it attacks, turning away from the blows it receives until it sees an opportunity, then with its head held sideways it goes for its enemy's throat. The ichneuman also attacks the crocodile in a similar manner.

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 2:37): That which is produced from the smell of this beast is both healthful and poisonous in food.


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