January 15, 2016

Mythical C

        Oh, say can you C…

chimera - a lion-like beast with a snake’s head at the tip of its tail and a goat’s head growing out of its back.  You can see an earlier post on chimeras here. (Greek)

cockatrice - looking like a dragonoid with rooster head and legs, born of a cock’s egg hatched by a toad or snake, and consistently confused and blended with the basilisk since the thirteenth century. (medieval European)

chupacabra - a leathery, scaly-skinned creature with spines down its back, that hops like a kangaroo and drinks the blood of livestock, especially goats.  This creature was first attested in 1995, and for me it will always be as depicted in the 1997 episode “Got Your Goat” of “Dexter’s Laboratory,” with every mention of the name followed by the sounds of terrified goats bleating.  (Latin American)

cyclops - a giant with a single eye in the middle of his forehead.  I’ve got two Renaissance wood block prints, very different and neither exactly classical.  I love the contrast between Aldrovandi’s civilized and mild-mannered one-eyed man and Deserps’s bizarre and hideous monster.  (Greek) 

centaur - a being with the top half of a human and the bottom half of a horse.  In earliest Greek depictions centaurs had only the hind legs of the horse, but later versions have all four legs of the horse.  They are usually wild and untamed, but occasionally wise and mystic.  (Greek)
        I'm really not sure why, but I tend not to be as interested in the more humanoid creatures, such as cyclopes and centaurs. Maybe it's just me being misanthropic!


[Pictures: Bellerophon Battles the Chimera, linocut by SeeWoods, 2013 (Image from GreekMythology.com);
Charlie la Chupacabra, from “Dexter’s Laboratory,” 1997 (Watch the episode at Daily Motion);
Cyclops, wood block print by Jean-Baptiste Coriolan from Monstrorum Historia by Ulisse Aldrovandi, 1642 (Image from Bibliotheque nationale de France);
Le Ciclope, wood block print from Recueil de la diversité des habits by Francois Deserps, 1567 (Image from Bibliotheque nationale de France);
Centaur, wood block print by Jean-Baptiste Coriolan from Monstrorum Historia by Ulisse Aldrovandi, 1642 (Image from Bibliotheque nationale de France);
Battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs, woodcut by Geronima Cagnaccia Parasole after Antonio Tempesta, c 1600 (Image from Art Institute Chicago).]

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