Few creatures that ever inhabited the realms of fantasy have moved minds and captivated fear in readers, moviegoers, and even gamers like the Basilisk. From the fans who faced it in the skin of the Devil Forgemaster Hector or the skin of Soma Cruz in Castlevania games, to those who were terrified by it in both books and the big screen in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. But how much do we know about this ancient and mythological beast?
Referred to as the King of Cobras, the Basilisk has been portrayed in several different forms through the years.
In Harry Potter, it was a gigantic snake that lurked through the sewers and petrified its victims with a single glance. In Castlevania, it is portrayed as a mix between a cockerel and a snake, the same as in its appearances in the Witcher series.
This confusion is common because of another species that is, in many ways, the same as a Basilisk. The Cockatrice.
These two beasts are very much the same, with the difference maker being the order of events that led to its birth.
Those of you who played the second generation of Pokemon games will get it with this little analogy. You caught an Eevee and wanted to evolve it without using one of the stones then what did you do?
A: You trained it during the day and hope for an Espeon.
Or B: You levelled up during the night and found yourself walking alongside an Umbreon.
According to some lore, the process of making a Basilisk or a Cockatrice is similar.
You can either A: Get a chicken’s egg hatched beneath a toad and you’ll have a Basilisk.
Or B: Get a chicken’s egg incubated by a serpent and you’ll have a Cockatrice.
The Basilisk has proven to be a captivating beast not only during its addition to the modern media in games, movies, and books. It has also left its mark in great minds through the centuries, with none other than Leonardo Da Vinci even including the King of Serpents in his bestiary:
“The basilisk is so exceedingly cruel that when it cannot kill animals with the venom of its gaze, it turns towards the herbs and plants, and looking fixedly upon them makes them wither up.” Leonardo Da Vinci.
Even some famous families adopted the Basilisk as part of their own beings. The coat of arms of House Visconti, an old and noble Italian house, portrays a massive Basilisk in the process of eating a man.
The motto of the House of Visconti was “Vipereos mores non violabo.” (“I will not violate the Snake’s uses.”) Fitting for the emblem, isn’t it?
You will also find the Basilisk in prominent logos today, like Alfa Romeo’s for example.
Did I get something wrong? Want to know more about the Basilisk or have an idea for a new mythological creature to be featured in my Bestiary?
Feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.