The History of the Unicorn

"The animal is exceedingly swift and powerful, so that no creature, neither the horse nor any other can overtake it" ~Ctesias

Unicorn

With all the fantastic beasts that early Romans were finding in the African wilderness, it is no wonder that some odd tales showed up. One of those tales happened to be that of the unicorn. An odd horselike creature with a single spiral horn that protruded from its forehead. It was purportedly impossible to catch, accounting for its lack of prescense in the Roman ampitheaters.

Maiden and unicorn
There was one way to catch a unicorn. The poor beast was found to have an incredible weakness for the pure of heart. Therefore, whenever a virgin maiden was about the forest, the unicorn would sense her presence, approach her, and lay its head on her lap, falling asleep. Hunters took advantage of this and would take girls into the forest to attract a unicorn. As soon as the unicorn fell asleep, the hunters would jump out and take the precious horn from the unicorn, leaving it to die a horrible death.

So, why take the horn? Perhaps because it was purported to have magickal powers. A unicorn's horn was a tremendous healer. It purified poisons and healed the sick. Therefore, it was believed to be a healing agent if injested, much like rhino horn today. The truth is, a good number of narwhales lost their lives to unicorn hunters because of their unicorn like horns. It was also believed that a unicorn's horn was a powerful protection, like a lucky rabbit's foot only stronger. During medievel times, nobles would ornament a horn and carry it with them for protection. Many of these artifacts can be seen in European museums still today.

The whole European unicorn myth is an interesting story. The unicorn is one of those creatures that was accepted in early pagan myths as well as in christian beliefs in the middle ages. In fact, in the King James version of the bible, it states in Psalm 22: "free me from the mouth of the lion and from the horns of the unicorn." This was actually a msi-translation as all other versions say ox as opposed to unicorn. However, because of this one mistake, the unicorn came to be symbolized on the royal coat of arms with the lion as a symbol of wild strength.

unicorn text of old
The unicorn itself changed much though the ages. European myth told of a small-goatlike creature with cloven hooves, tail of a lion, and a large spiral horn coming from its forehead. Now a days, the cloven hooves and lion's tail are more often dropped than not and the unicorn is more like a horse with a horn than anything else. It is interesting to note that the early horse, Eohippus had several toes, a possibly lion-like tail, and was small of size, much like the early unicorn.

Despite the unicorn's varied past, there doesn't appear to be many in existance today. Why is that so? I believe that peole just don't have time left enough to let the unicorn exist. There is no time left for trivalties as myths of one horned horses. However, there are more unicorns out there than you might think. They are found in our hearts and souls, us being the ones who know there is more to life than a high pay and a big house. For all the unicorns out there, "Just because you cannot see it, doesn't mean that it does not exist."

Thank you for reading. I welcome any comments.

Go back to the Prarie
Get back to the lair's entrance
Return to Main Page
Contact Me