Basilisk: The Legend Of This Great Reptile
The monster known as the basilisk has been talked about in legends for centuries but has returned to fame less than two decades ago when Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets came out. Hundreds of years ago, many people believed in and feared the creature known as the basilisk. In today’s world, the Basilisk is just a monster from a children’s book that many people may think that J.K. Rowling herself made up.
The basilisk was not invented as a prop for a story recently, but instead, its origins lie in ancient Africa. The creature was said to only live in deserts. They did not live here because they fancied the climate. But because everything they looked at withered and died, turning its surroundings into deserts no matter where it originated.
Descriptions Of The Basilisk
There are many descriptions of the basilisk that vary greatly. All the descriptions depend on the time period and place where the legends were told. In some places, the basilisk was a small snake, no bigger than a foot long, that had some chicken-like characteristics. It often had a halo-like ring on its head if it had a snakehead.
In many legends and old drawings of the creature, it looked like a perfect mix between a rooster and a snake. In many drawings, the creature had the bird’s head and feet, the body of the snake, and either feathery or scaly wings. Sometimes the creature also had a third eye on the top of its head.
The Harry Potter book describes the basilisk as an extremely long snake with no rooster-like qualities at all. Instead, the cry of a rooster could kill the snake if it heard it. The snake from Potter also had enormous glowing yellow eyes that could kill anyone who looked directly into them or petrify them if they saw its eyes indirectly.
What Did the Basilisk Do To People?
The Potter and old-world descriptions of what the monster could do to people were actually quite similar. In the children’s series, the basilisk was said to kill with a single piercing stare. In fact, there was a ghost at the wizarding school that the creature killed in this very way.
Many other students were petrified during the course of the book by looking at the snake indirectly. In the old legends, the creature could also kill with a stare. The stare apparently was able to poison the person just by looking at it. The gaze was sometimes so deadly that it not only killed the person but dissolved their skin and muscles right off of their body.
Since the basilisk was so deadly, it was illegal to breed it in the Potter books, and it’s likely that it would have been illegal to breed them in real life if they had been anything more than a myth. In the old legend, the belief held that a basilisk was made when a toad would roost on a chicken egg.
Potter books tell the same Basilisk creation story. In the books, the only people who could control the basilisk were the ones that could also talk to snakes, which is why they were so dangerous. There is little to no record of real people who could control this monster in the old legends.
Luckily, both the legend and the story had a way to kill this creature. In both the story and the old tales, it was said that the crowing of a rooster could kill the basilisk. This is ironic considering it is usually thought of to be half rooster, to begin with. In the tales, weasels are immune to the basilisk’s stare and could fight it. The old stories say that a dead basilisk could be used to scare away spiders. The new wizarding book has made mention that spiders are afraid of the creature as well.
Overall, J. K. Rowling did a great job describing the creature and its many strengths and weaknesses in her book. You could easily take almost everything the book says straight from legend, except for the monster’s appearance. While it’s safe to assume that this creature doesn’t exist and never did, it would still be a good idea not to put a chicken egg under a toad to see what would happen.