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Old 01-21-2018, 09:07 PM
Status: "Support the Mining Law of 1872" (set 14 days ago)
 
Location: Cody, WY
8,146 posts, read 8,982,898 times
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The medieval beastiary is an early form of natural history. Borrowing from older sources, primarily Graeco-Roman, it describes animals ranging from common to fabulous, from the dog to the unicorn. Much of the information has been discredited, but much is sound. The beastiary draws moral lessons from the behavior of animals. Stretching too far to make a comparison was a problem. However, the authors added whatever they could find so there is information.

I happened upon an excellent website devoted to the beastiary. His blog is fascinating, containing all sorts of odd facts. The website is an obvious work of love, many years of love combined with hard work. It's well worth some hours of our time.

I've also appended a link to T.H. White's translation of a medieval beastiary which I thoroughly enjoyed. This is the same White who wrote The Once And Future King.

Examine the above. Read White. See what, if anything, strikes you as a hint of a cryptid.

The Medieval Bestiary

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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Old 01-22-2018, 11:00 AM
 
1,880 posts, read 450,032 times
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There are some species that existed at that time, that do not exist in modern times.

Dragons are a good example, descriptions of these can be found in all kinds of historical texts, even those that emit fire and smoke from their mouths, Marco Polo even detailed an encounter he had with such a creature.

they are just creatures that existed at one time, that do not exist today. Its not that spectacular or extraordinary imo.
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Old 01-22-2018, 01:19 PM
Status: "Is it Spring yet??" (set 23 days ago)
 
Location: Brooklyn,NY
9,853 posts, read 11,458,891 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rstevens62 View Post
There are some species that existed at that time, that do not exist in modern times.

Dragons are a good example, descriptions of these can be found in all kinds of historical texts, even those that emit fire and smoke from their mouths, Marco Polo even detailed an encounter he had with such a creature.

they are just creatures that existed at one time, that do not exist today. Its not that spectacular or extraordinary imo.
I agree. I'm sure Bigfoot and Nessie existed at one time, along with Kraken type sea monsters too. The website is terrific though OP, even if many are just legends. Reminds me of the SCP Foundation. Great thread. There's an "Ant-Lion" even listed! Very cool to imagine.
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Old 01-22-2018, 02:07 PM
Status: "Support the Mining Law of 1872" (set 14 days ago)
 
Location: Cody, WY
8,146 posts, read 8,982,898 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D. Scott View Post
I agree. I'm sure Bigfoot and Nessie existed at one time, along with Kraken type sea monsters too. The website is terrific though OP, even if many are just legends. Reminds me of the SCP Foundation. Great thread. There's an "Ant-Lion" even listed! Very cool to imagine.
I'm glad that you like it; that's why I posted it. I enjoy arcana and I'm happy when I find a fellow.

Here's another tasty item; it's not mentioned in the bestiary website.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/25...=ATVPDKIKX0DER
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Old 01-22-2018, 04:04 PM
 
Location: Naperville, Illinois
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The Ishtar Gate in the ruins of Babylon is decorated with lions, aurochs, and dragons. Which is odd: why represent an imaginary animal along with two everyday animals? In terms of their mythology, the dragons represented the god Marduk, the aurochs represented the storm god Adad, and the lions were a symbol of Ishtar (Astarte), the goddess of love. The road leading to the gate was lined with stones bearing a prayer to Marduk.

So interpreting these ancient images in a modern sense: images of real existing animals - misses the theological and political point Nebuchadnezzar II was making with the gate. The animals were representatives of the gods that protected the city. That's a problem with a lot of the interpretations you see in the ancient astronauts posts: they're filtering images through a modern set of assumptions and sensibilities. This doesn't work well when the assumptions and sensibilities of the ancients were very different than ours.

Things are, I think, even more complex when interpreting the images in medieval bestiaries - you have the beginnings of a scientific view of the world intermixed with theology and myth. The artist is representing a story that's usually been passed on through several people, with attendant distortions and exaggerations. People would find fossils, and would figure they were the bones of fabulous beasts or long-dead humans. Or they'd see the bones of an animal and interpret them in the light of mythology: the skull of an elephant, for example, looks like a cyclops due to the large nasal cavity. And medieval drawings of whales bear little resemblance to the actual animals: many show scales because the mariners who saw them thought they were giant fish, and the artist had never seen one.

You have accounts of monopods (humans with a single leg and foot in the middle of their bodies), akephaloi (headless men with mouths in the middle of their bellies), and cynocephali (dog headed men). You also see accounts of wodwos, or wild men, throughout the centuries in many cultures. Some of these accounts are travelers' stories with a lot of fantasy thrown in, some are misidentification. The cynocephali are a favorite of mine: St. Christopher was said to be a member of that species who converted to Christianity; here's an icon of him:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...nocephalus.gif

The cynocephali are particularly interesting - there continue to be reports of dog men or upright doglike animals - around here, in Michigan and Wisconsin in particular. One hypothesis is that this is stories of baboons from travelers intermixed with reports of cultures in Africa.

Those who like this sort of thing should check out Beachcombing's Bizarre History Blog - always something of interest there:

A Mystery Animal in Ancient*Africa - Beachcombing's Bizarre History Blog
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Old 01-22-2018, 05:05 PM
 
Location: Heart of Dixie
11,868 posts, read 8,977,916 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rstevens62 View Post
...Dragons are a good example, descriptions of these can be found in all kinds of historical texts, even those that emit fire and smoke from their mouths, Marco Polo even detailed an encounter he had with such a creature...
I suppose you also believe St George killed a fire-breathing dragon????
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Old 01-22-2018, 07:04 PM
Status: "Support the Mining Law of 1872" (set 14 days ago)
 
Location: Cody, WY
8,146 posts, read 8,982,898 times
Reputation: 15435
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirt Grinder View Post
I suppose you also believe St George killed a fire-breathing dragon????
If we can have Paul Bunyan, why can't our forebears have fire-breathing dragons?

I have heard tales of Timber Wolves, Cottonmouth Moccasins, and Diamondback Rattlesnakes from rustics living in the far suburbs of Chicago. I assure you that those repeating the tales truly believed them.
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Old 01-22-2018, 10:26 PM
Status: "Is it Spring yet??" (set 23 days ago)
 
Location: Brooklyn,NY
9,853 posts, read 11,458,891 times
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I looked to see if Spring Heeled Jack was on the beastiary but didn't see it. While not medieval, it was an interesting story nonetheless.
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Old 01-22-2018, 10:43 PM
Status: "Support the Mining Law of 1872" (set 14 days ago)
 
Location: Cody, WY
8,146 posts, read 8,982,898 times
Reputation: 15435
Quote:
Originally Posted by D. Scott View Post
I looked to see if Spring Heeled Jack was on the beastiary but didn't see it. While not medieval, it was an interesting story nonetheless.
Bestiaries never include animals closely related to humans. They are beasts in that they are very different from humans. Humanoid monsters don't count either and there have always been humanoid monsters.

Some figures that are seemingly not quite human but excluded from bestiaries:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spring-heeled_Jack

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krampus

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belsnickel

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C3%A8re_Fouettard

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zwarte_Piet

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jersey_Devil

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiangshi
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Old 01-23-2018, 08:01 AM
 
1,880 posts, read 450,032 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirt Grinder View Post
I suppose you also believe St George killed a fire-breathing dragon????
Whats so strange about that? So what, they were big reptilian creatures that existed at one time...we all accept that dinosaurs once existed, why not something else that is similar? Breathing fire is not exactly a magical thing either, combination of natural chemicals/ glands, could produce fire, theres even a bug today that can create a small firey explosion.
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