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Bulfinch's Mythology The Age of Fable

Page: 197

THE COCKATRICE, OR BASILISK

This animal was called the king of the serpents. In confirmation of his royalty, he was said to be endowed with a crest or comb upon the head, constituting a crown. He was supposed to be produced from the egg of a cock hatched under toads or serpents. There were several species of this animal. One species burned up whatever they approached; a second were a kind of wandering Medusa's heads, and their look caused an instant horror, which was immediately followed by death. In Shakespeare's play of Richard the Third, Lady Anne, in answer to Richard's compliment on her eyes, says, "Would they were basilisk's, to strike thee dead!"


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