Beast

Sources : Basilisk

Lucan [1st century CE] (Pharsalia, book 9, verse 921-926): How prospered Murrus when his lance transfixed / A basilisk ? Swift through the weapon ran / The poison to his hand : he drew his sword / And at one blow he swept the limb away : / So did he live and gazed upon the hand / Which dying paid his ransom. - [Ridley, 1919, Volume 2, Page 245]

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 8, 33): Anyone who sees the eyes of a basilisk serpent (basilisci serpentis) dies immediately. It is no more than twelve inches long, and has white markings on its head that look like a diadem. Unlike other snakes, which flee its hiss, it moves forward with its middle raised high. Its touch and even its breath scorch grass, kill bushes and burst rocks. Its poison is so deadly that once when a man on a horse speared a basilisk, the venom travelled up the spear and killed not only the man, but also the horse. A weasel can kill a basilisk; the serpent is thrown into a hole where a weasel lives, and the stench of the weasel kills the basilisk at the same time as the basilisk kills the weasel.

Aelianus [170-230 CE] (On the Characteristics of Animals, Book 2, chapter 5): The Basilisk measures but a span, yet at the sight of it the longest snake not after an interval but on the instant, at the mere impact of its breath, shrivels. And if a man has a stick in his hand and the Basilisk bites it, the owner of the rod dies. [Book 3, chapter 31] ... the Basilisk too, they say, goes in fear of the [cock]: at the sight of one it shudders, and at the sound of its crowing it is seized with convulsions and dies. This is why travellers in Libya, which is the nurse of such monsters, in fear of the aforesaid Basilisk take with them a cock as companion and partner of their journey to protect themselves from so terrible an infliction. - [Scholfield translation]

Gaius Julius Solinus [3rd century CE] (De mirabilibus mundi / Polyhistor, Chapter 27.50): ...the basilisk, an evil unique in all the lands. [51] It is a serpent, almost half a foot in length; its head is lined, as though with a little white head-band. It is given to the destruction not only of men and other living things, but also of the land itself. Wherever it chooses to make its toxic den is polluted and burned. It devastates vegetation and kills trees, and also contaminates the very breezes. So it is that no bird can fly unharmed over air infected by its unwholesome breath. [52] When it is agitated, it crawls along with one half of its body, and rears the other half up high. Even serpents recoil in terror from its hissing, and when they hear it, they all hurry to flee in any possible direction. [53] Anything that dies from its bite is not devoured by wild beasts or touched by birds. Nevertheless, the basilisk is defeated by weasels, which men in those parts stuff into the caverns in which it takes shelter. Yet it does not lack power even when dead. Indeed, the Pergamenes acquired, for a pretty penny, the remains of a basilisk, so spiders would not spin on their shrine, famous for the workmanship of Apelles, nor birds fly into it. - [Arwen Apps translation, 2011]

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 4:6): Basilisk (basiliscus) is a Greek word, translated into Latin as “little king” (regulus), because it is the king of the snakez, so that they flee when they see it because it kills them with its odor – it also kills a human if it looks at one. Indeed no flying bird may pass unharmed by the basilisk’s face, but however distant it may be it is burnt up and devoured by this animal’s mouth. [Book 12, 4:7] However, the basilisk may be overcome by weasels. For this reason people take weasels into caves where the basilisk lies hidden; and as the basilisk takes flight at the sight, the weasel chases it down and kills it. Thus the Creator of nature sets forth nothing without a remedy. It is half a foot in length, and markedwith white spots. [Book 12, 4:8] Basilisks, like scorpions, seek after parched places, and when they come to water they become hydrophobic and frantic. [Book 12, 4:9] The sibilus is the same as the basilisk, and it kills by means of a hissing, before it bites and burns. - [Barney, Lewis, et. al. translation]

Theophilus Presbyter [c. 1070–1125] In the Schedula diversarum artium the alchemist known as Theophilus tells of how "the heathen, who are said to be skilled in this art, produce basilisks for themselves in this way. They have a structure under the ground, made above, below and all round with stones, with two tiny openings, so small that scarcely any light can be seen through them. In this they place two old fowls, twelve or fifteen years old, and they give them plenty to eat. When they have become plump, with the heat of their fatness they copulate and lay eggs. When these have been laid, the fowls are taken away and toads are introduced to sit on the eggs, and bread is given them for food. When the eggs are hatched, male chicks emerge like hens' chicks. After seven days they grow the tails of serpents. If the structure were not paved with stone they would immediately enter the ground. Careful of this, their owners have round bronze vessels of large size, perforated everywhere and with narrow mouths, and they place the chicks in these, block up the mouths with copper lids, and bury them in the ground. For six months they are nourished with the fine earth entering through the holes. After this, they uncover the vessels and place them on a large fire until the beasts within are completely burned. When this has been done and the vessels have cooled, they take them out and carefully grind them, adding a third part of the blood of a red-headed man, which has been dried and ground. These two compounds are mixed with sharp vinegar in a clean vessel. Then they take very thin sheets of pure red copper, and they smear this preparation over them on each side and put them on the fire. When they are white-hot, they take them off and quench them in the same preparation and wash them, and so they proceed for a long time until this preparation eats through the copper, which, thereupon, takes on the weight and colour of gold. This gold is suitable for all work." - C.R. Dodwell translation