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"John Mirk on Bonfires, Elephants and Dragons"
Grover Cronin, Jr.
Modern Language Notes, 57:2 (February), 1942, 113-116
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"In his homily for the feast of St. John the Baptist John Mirk describes the manner of celebrating the vigil, a description of obvious value to the historian of folk-custom and yet, apparently, little noted. ... But whereas Beleth is content to explain that a fire made of bones was especially popular as a remedy against the pestilential dragon in the time of St. John and that the people annually light similar fires to commemorate the historical fact, Mirk interweaves into his explanation of the custom the old story of Alexander's stratagem against elephants. But what has all this to do with the story of the elephants? Is Mirk merely implying that the same wise clerks who knew the natural history of the elephant were also up on their dragon lore? Clarity is conspicuously absent from the explanation given by Mirk, but an examination of Bestiary beliefs reveals that there is good reason for connecting the stories of the elephant and of the dragon.

One of the details of the Greek Physiologus involves the hostility existing between the dragon and the elephant." - author

Language: English

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