In European bestiaries and legends, a basilisk (/ˈbæsɪlɪsk/ or /ˈbæzɪlɪsk/, from the Greek βασιλίσκος basilískos, "little king"; Latin regulus) is a legendary reptile reputed to be a serpent king, which was hybrid from a rooster and a serpent, who can cause death with a single glance. According to the Naturalis Historia of Pliny the Elder, the basilisk of Cyrene is a small snake, "being not more than twelve fingers in length", that is so venomous, it leaves a wide trail of deadly venom in its wake, and its gaze is likewise lethal. Its weakness is the odor of the weasel, which, according to Pliny, was thrown into the basilisk's hole, recognizable because some of the surrounding shrubs and grass had been scorched by its presence. It is possible that the legend of the basilisk and its association with the weasel in Europe was inspired by accounts of certain species of Asiatic snakes (such as the king cobra) and their natural predator, the mongoose.
|Sub grouping||Mythological hybrids|
|Similar creatures||Dragon, Cockatrice, Sea serpent, Giant anaconda|
The basilisk is called "king" because it is reputed to have on its head a mitre, or crown-shaped crest. Stories of the basilisk show that it is not completely distinguished from the cockatrice. The basilisk is alleged to be hatched by a cockerel from the egg of a serpent or toad (the reverse of the cockatrice, which was hatched from a cockerel's "egg" incubated by a serpent or toad). In Medieval Europe, the description of the creature began taking on features from cockerels.
One of the earliest accounts of the basilisk comes from Pliny the Elder's Natural History, written in roughly 79 AD. He describes the catoblepas, a monstrous cow-like creature of which "all who behold its eyes, fall dead upon the spot", and then goes on to say,
There is the same power also in the serpent called the basilisk. It is produced in the province of Cyrene, being not more than twelve fingers in length. It has a white spot on the head, strongly resembling a sort of a diadem. When it hisses, all the other serpents fly from it: and it does not advance its body, like the others, by a succession of folds, but moves along upright and erect upon the middle. It destroys all shrubs, not only by its contact, but those even that it has breathed upon; it burns up all the grass, too, and breaks the stones, so tremendous is its noxious influence. It was formerly a general belief that if a man on horseback killed one of these animals with a spear, the poison would run up the weapon and kill, not only the rider, but the horse, as well. To this dreadful monster the effluvium of the weasel is fatal, a thing that has been tried with success, for kings have often desired to see its body when killed; so true is it that it has pleased Nature that there should be nothing without its antidote. The animal is thrown into the hole of the basilisk, which is easily known from the soil around it being infected. The weasel destroys the basilisk by its odour, but dies itself in this struggle of nature against its own self.
Isidore of Seville defined the basilisk as the king of snakes, due to its killing glare and its poisonous breath. The Venerable Bede was the first to attest to the legend of the birth of a basilisk from an egg by an old cockerel, and then other authors added the condition of Sirius being ascendant. Alexander Neckam (died 1217) was the first to say that not the glare but the "air corruption" was the killing tool of the basilisk, a theory developed one century later by Pietro d'Abano.
Theophilus Presbyter gave a long recipe in his book for creating a basilisk to convert copper into "Spanish gold" (De auro hyspanico). The compound was formed by combining powdered basilisk blood, powdered human blood, red copper, and a special kind of vinegar.
Albertus Magnus in the De animalibus wrote about the killing gaze of the basilisk, but he denied other legends, such as the rooster hatching the egg. He gave as source of those legends Hermes Trismegistus, who is credited also as the creator of the story about the basilisk's ashes being able to convert silver into gold: the attribution is absolutely incorrect, but it shows how the legends of the basilisk were already linked to alchemy in the 13th century.
Geoffrey Chaucer featured a basilicok (as he called it; possibly in relation to the cock) in his Canterbury Tales. According to some legends, basilisks can be killed by hearing the crow of a rooster or gazing at itself through a mirror. The latter method of killing the beast is featured in the legend of the basilisk of Warsaw, killed by a man carrying a set of mirrors.
Stories gradually added to the basilisk's deadly capabilities, such as describing it as a larger beast, capable of breathing fire and killing with the sound of its voice. Some writers even claimed it could kill not only by touch, but also by touching something that is touching the victim, like a sword held in the hand. Also, some stories claim its breath is highly toxic and will cause death, usually immediately. The basilisk is also the guardian creature and traditional symbol of the Swiss city Basel (Latin: Basilea). Canting basilisks appear as supporters in the city's arms.
Leonardo da Vinci included a basilisk in his Bestiary, saying it is so utterly cruel that when it cannot kill animals by its baleful gaze, it turns upon herbs and plants, and fixing its gaze on them withers them up. In his notebooks, he describes the basilisk, in an account clearly dependent directly or indirectly on Pliny's:
This is found in the province of Cyrenaica and is not more than 12 fingers long. It has on its head a white spot after the fashion of a diadem. It scares all serpents with its whistling. It resembles a snake, but does not move by wriggling but from the centre forwards to the right. It is said that one of these, being killed with a spear by one who was on horse-back, and its venom flowing on the spear, not only the man but the horse also died. It spoils the wheat and not only that which it touches, but where it breathes the grass dries and the stones are split.
Then Leonardo noted the following on the weasel: "This beast finding the lair of the basilisk kills it with the smell of its urine, and this smell, indeed, often kills the weasel itself."
According to the tradition of the Cantabrian mythology, the ancient Basiliscu (as they called it) has disappeared in most of the Earth but still lives in Cantabria, although it is rare to see it. This animal is born from an egg laid by an old cock just before his death a clear night and full moon exactly at midnight. Within a few days, the egg shell, which is not hard, but rather soft and leathery, is opened by the strange creature that already has all the features of an adult: legs, beak, cockscomb, and reptilian body. Apparently, this strange creature has an intense and penetrating fire in its eyes such that any animal or person gazing directly upon it would die. The weasel is the only animal that can face and even attack it. It can only be killed with the crowing of a rooster, so, until very recent times, travelers carried a rooster when they ventured into areas where it was said that the basilisks lived.
Some have speculated that accounts and descriptions of cobras may have given rise to the legend of the basilisk. Cobras can maintain an upright posture, and, as with many snakes in overlapping territories, are often killed by mongooses. The king cobra or hamadryad has a crown-like symbol on its head. Several species of spitting cobras can incapacitate from a distance by spitting venom, most often into the prey's eyes, and may well have been confused with the hamadryad by their similar appearance. The Egyptian cobra lives in the desert and was employed as a symbol of royalty.
The basilisk appears in the English Revised Version of the Bible in Isaiah 14:29 in the prophet's exhortation to the Philistines reading, "Rejoice not, O Philistia, all of thee, because the rod that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a basilisk, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent." The King James version of the Bible states, "out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent".
In Psalm 91:13: "super aspidem et basiliscum calcabis conculcabis leonem et draconem" in the Latin Vulgate, literally "You will tread on the lion and the dragon,/ the asp and the basilisk you will trample under foot", translated in the King James Version as: Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet", the basilisk appears in the Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate, though not most English translations, which gave rise to its inclusion in the subject in Early Medieval art of Christ treading on the beasts.
The basilisk is mentioned in The Inscription on the Kosovo Marble Column, a poem/epitaph written by Stefan Lazarević, the Despot of Serbia, chronicling the Battle of Kosovo. In one part, the Serbian army is praised for killing ''Amurat and his son, spawns of viper and adder, whelps of lion and basilisk...''
Wherever you see or hear a Jew teaching, do not think otherwise than that you are hearing a poisonous Basiliskus who with his face poisons and kills people.
In William Shakespeare's Richard III, the recently widowed Anne Neville, on hearing seductive compliments on her eyes from her husband's murderer (Richard, Duke of Gloucester), retorts that she wishes they were those of a basilisk, that she might kill him. In Act II, Scene 4 of Shakespeare's Cymbeline, a character says about a ring, "It is a basilisk unto mine eye, Kills me to hack on't."
Similarly, Samuel Richardson wrote in his novel Clarissa; or the History of a Young Lady: “If my eyes would carry with them the execution which the eyes of the basilisk are said to do, I would make it my first business to see this creature.” Another reference to the basilisk is found in John Gay's "The Beggar's Opera" (Act II, Air XXV):
Man may escape from Rope and Gun;
Nay, some have out liv'd the Doctor's Pill;
Who takes a Woman must be undone,
That Basilisk is sure to kill.
Jonathan Swift alluded to the basilisk in a poem:
See how she rears her head,
And rolls about her dreadful eyes,
To drive all virtue out, or look it dead!
'Twas sure this basilisk sent Temple thence …
Robert Browning included the basilisk as a figure in "A Light Woman."
For see, my friend goes shaking and white;
He eyes me as the basilisk:
I have turned, it appears, his day to night,
Eclipsing his sun's disk.
Alexander Pope wrote, “The smiling infant in his hand shall take/ The crested basilisk and speckled snake” (Messiah, lines 81–82). In the chapter XVI of The Zadig, Voltaire mentions a basilisk, “an Animal, that will not suffer itself to be touch'd by a Man”. Percy Bysshe Shelley in his "Ode to Naples" alludes to the basilisk:
Be thou like the imperial basilisk,
Killing thy foe with unapparent wounds!
Gaze on oppression, till at that dread risk,
Aghast she pass from the earth’s disk.
Fear not, but gaze,- for freemen mightier grow,
And slaves more feeble, gazing on their foe.
Shelley also referred to the basilisk in his poem "Queen Mab:"
Those deserts of immeasurable sand,
Whose age-collected fervors scarce allowed
Where the shrill chirp of the green lizard's love
Broke on the sultry silentness alone,
Now teem with countless rills and shady woods,
Cornfields and pastures and white cottages;
And where the startled wilderness beheld
A savage conqueror stained in kindred blood,
A tigress sating with the flesh of lambs
The unnatural famine of her toothless cubs,
Whilst shouts and howlings through the desert rang,—
Sloping and smooth the daisy-spangled lawn,
Offering sweet incense to the sunrise, smiles
To see a babe before his mother's door,
Sharing his morning's meal
with the green and golden basilisk
That comes to lick his feet.— Part VIII
The BAT F.K.25 Basilisk was a prototype British fighter aircraft of the First World War. A single engined biplane intended to meet a requirement to replace the Sopwith Snipe, the Basilisk was unsuccessful, only three being built.Basiliscus (genus)
This article is about a genus of large corytophanid lizards, for the mythological creature, see BasiliskFor other uses, see Basilisk (disambiguation).
Basiliscus is a genus of large corytophanid lizards, commonly known as basilisks, which are endemic to southern Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. The genus contains four species, which are commonly known as the Jesus Christ lizard, or simply the Jesus lizard, due to their ability to run across water for significant distances before sinking.Basilisk, Queensland
Basilisk is a locality in the Cassowary Coast Region, Queensland, Australia.Basilisk (cannon)
The basilisk was a very heavy bronze cannon employed during the Middle Ages. The barrel of a basilisk could weigh up to 4,000 lb (1,800 kg) and could have a calibre of up to 5 inches (13 cm). On average they were around 10 feet long, though some, like Queen Elizabeth's Pocket Pistol, were almost three times that length.
The basilisk got its name from the mythological basilisk: a fire-breathing venomous serpent that could cause large-scale destruction and kill its victims with its glance alone. It was thought that the very sight of its 160 lb shot would be enough to scare the enemy to death.In 1588 the Spanish Armada was equipped with many basilisks for their invasion of England with the intent of using them to besiege towns loyal to Elizabeth I. Many of these guns were lost when the ships were wrecked on their return to Spain.
Due to its large size, the basilisk fell out of favour of European generals, who preferred lighter, more accurate artillery in the late 16th century. A late example is the Maltese Gun, built in Holland in 1607 and, like many of its contemporaries, fitted with a replacement carriage during the Napoleonic Wars.Basilisk (comics)
The Basilisk is the name of three fictional characters appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.Basilisk (fantasy role play)
Many fantasy roleplaying games have included a version of the mythological basilisk among the creatures that the players may encounter. The creatures are frequently lizard-like with the ability to turn characters to stone.Basilisks and variations of the monster have appeared in every edition of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise. Within Dungeons & Dragons, the basilisk is depicted a giant lizard with eight legs, and as a reptilian monster whose gaze can turn creatures to stone. The basilisk received detailed coverage in Dragon #81 (January 1984), in "The Ecology of the Basilisk," by Ed Greenwood. A figurine of the basilisk was included in the D&D Miniatures: Giants of Legend set #13 which was released in 2004.
The basilisk has also appeared in d20 System games by Necromancer Games in their Tome of Horrors sourcebook and Paizo Publishing's Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary.
In the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets video game, the player, as Harry, encounters the basilisk in a climactic battle before the last cut scene of the game. During the battle, Harry fights with a sword rather than with the wand the character has used through the previous portions of the game. The basilisk is represented as spitting poison which hurts the character.In the MMORPG EverQuest, the basilisks have a stone breath attack.In its strategy guide for the computer game Heroes of Might and Magic III, GameSpot describes the basilisks the "saving grace" of the Fortress castle type, as they are a "surprisingly effective" unit for the mid-game being "good in speed, offense, defense, and hit points" with a petrification power and the ability to be upgraded to "Greater Basilisk".Basilisk (manga)
Basilisk (Japanese: バジリスク〜甲賀忍法帖〜, Hepburn: Bajirisuku ~Kōga Ninpō Chō~, lit. Basilisk: The Kōga Ninja Scrolls) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Masaki Segawa. It was published in Japan in 2003 and 2004 in Kodansha's Young Magazine Uppers magazine, based on the novel The Kouga Ninja Scrolls by Futaro Yamada published in 1958. The anime, produced in 2005 by Gonzo, closely follows the manga aside from a handful of distinctions. The manga won the 2004 Kodansha Manga Award for general manga. Segawa continued producing serialized adaptations of Futaro Yamada's novels with The Yagyu Ninja Scrolls in 2005, Yama Fu-Tang in 2010, and Jū: Ninpō Makai Tensei in 2012. Additionally, a two-part novel sequel titled The Ōka Ninja Scrolls: Basilisk New Chapter (桜花忍法帖～バジリスク新章, Ōka Ninpō Chō ~ Bajirisuku Shinfumi), penned by Masaki Yamada, was published in 2015 with illustrations by Segawa; a manga adaptation, Basilisk: The Ōka Ninja Scrolls (バジリスク〜桜花忍法帖〜, Bajirisuku Ōka Ninpō Chō~), illustrated by Tatsuya Shihira with character designs by Masaki Segawa, began serialization in 2017, and an anime adaptation by Seven Arcs Pictures premiered in January 2018.
The story takes place in the year 1614. Two ninja clans, Iga of Tsubagakure and the Kouga of Manjidani, battle each other to determine which grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu will become the next shogun. The deadly competition between 10 elite ninja from each clan unleashes a centuries-old hatred that threatens to destroy all hope for peace between them.Basilisk (web browser)
Basilisk is an open-source web browser created by the developers of the Pale Moon browser. There are releases for Microsoft Windows and Linux, and an unofficial build for macOS.First released in 2017, Basilisk is a perpetual beta intended to refine the UXP codebase it is built from. Pale Moon and other applications are also built from this codebase.Like Pale Moon, Basilisk is a fork of Firefox with substantial divergence. Basilisk has the user interface of the Firefox version 29–56 era (unlike Pale Moon, which has the Firefox 4–28 interface).
For add-ons, Basilisk has roughly similar support as Pale Moon for XUL/XPCOM extensions and NPAPI plugins, all of which are no longer supported in Firefox. Basilisk also had experimental support for current Firefox WebExtensions, but this was removed in February 2019.Unlike Pale Moon, Basilisk has limited support for Widevine DRM and WebRTC.Basilisk II
Basilisk II is an emulator which emulates Apple Macintosh computers based on the Motorola 68000 series. The software is cross-platform and can be used on a variety of operating systems.
The last version of Mac OS that can be run within Basilisk II is Mac OS 8.1, the last 680x0-compatible version. Newer Mac OS versions are not compatible because they require a PowerPC-based processor, which Basilisk II cannot emulate. Alpha versions were available from January 1999 with the first non-alpha release in October of the same year.
Ports of Basilisk II exist for multiple computing platforms, including AmigaOS 4, BeOS, Linux, Amiga, Windows NT, Mac OS X, MorphOS and mobile devices such as the PlayStation Portable.
Released under the terms of the GNU General Public License, Basilisk II is free software, and its source code of is available on GitHub.Common basilisk
The common basilisk (Basiliscus basiliscus) is a species of lizard in the family Corytophanidae. The species is endemic to Central America and South America, where it is found near rivers and streams in rainforests. It is also known as the Jesus Christ lizard, Jesus lizard, South American Jesus lizard, or lagarto de Jesus Cristo for its ability to run on the surface of water.Corytophanidae
Corytophanidae is a family of iguanian lizards, also called casquehead lizards or helmeted lizards, endemic to the New World. Nine species of casquehead lizards from three genera are recognized.David Langford
David Rowland Langford (born 10 April 1953) is a British author, editor and critic, largely active within the science fiction field. He publishes the science fiction fanzine and newsletter Ansible.HMS Basilisk (1848)
HMS Basilisk was a first-class paddle sloop of the Royal Navy, built at the Woolwich Dockyard and launched on 22 August 1848.HMS Basilisk (H11)
HMS Basilisk was a B-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy around 1930. Initially assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet, she was transferred to the Home Fleet in 1936. The ship escorted convoys and conducted anti-submarine patrols early in World War II before participating in the Norwegian Campaign. Basilisk was sunk by German aircraft during the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940.LessWrong
LessWrong, also written as Less Wrong, is a community blog and forum focused on discussion of cognitive biases, philosophy, psychology, economics, rationality, and artificial intelligence, among other topics.List of Basilisk characters
In the Basilisk universe, there are three main groups of characters, the Kouga Ninja, the Iga Ninja and others that are associated with the shogun. In the second season, The Ōka Ninja Scrolls, a number of new characters are introduced.Magical creatures in Harry Potter
Magical creatures are an aspect of the fictional wizarding world contained in the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Throughout the seven books of the series, Harry and his friends come across many of these creatures on their adventures, as well as in the Care of Magical Creatures class at Hogwarts. Rowling has also written Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a guide to the magical beasts found in the series. Many of these are derived from folklore, primarily Greek mythology, but also British and Scandinavian folklore. Many of the legends surrounding mythical creatures are also incorporated in the books. "Children ... know that I didn't invent unicorns, but I've had to explain frequently that I didn't actually invent hippogriffs," Rowling told Stephen Fry in an interview for BBC Radio 4. "When I do use a creature that I know is a mythological entity, I like to find out as much as I can about it. I might not use it, but to make it as consistent as I feel is good for my plot."Some creatures in the series are ordinary animals, but may be imbued with magical properties. Owls, for example, deliver mail and have the ability to find the recipient regardless of their location. Other animals such as cats, frogs and rats do not necessarily have magical abilities.On Basilisk Station
On Basilisk Station is a science fiction novel by American writer David Weber, first published in 1993. It is the first book in his Honor Harrington series, and follows Commander Honor Harrington and Her Majesty’s light cruiser Fearless during their assignment to the Basilisk system. Though Basilisk Station and the planet of Medusa have become a dumping ground for military officers, currently in disfavor, from her home star system of Manticore. Honor is determined to discharge her duty regardless of the circumstances.
The story follows Honor and her crew as they deal with the responsibilities of their assignment. When their duty leads them to discover events that would lead to an invasion of Medusa, they have no choice but to act.Plumed basilisk
The plumed basilisk (Basiliscus plumifrons), also called commonly the green basilisk, the double crested basilisk, or the Jesus Christ lizard, is a species of lizard in the family Corytophanidae. The species is native to Central America.
Conventional elements of coats of arms
(with black and