Saturday, March 2, 2013
Semi-Legend Post -- Unicorns
So. Unicorns. I just looked through my Lore Board and randomly grabbed a picture that caught my eye. Which turned out to be the one on the left. Interestingly enough, the first site I found that talked about Unicorn legends, said this:
"Searching for unicorn myths is a bit like searching for unicorns themselves. Before you even begin the hunt, you don't expect to find anything.
The truth is, unlike almost every single other mythical creature, the unicorn does not appear anywhere in any culture's actual mythology. That is to say, plenty of Greek scholars believed that unicorns existed, but the unicorn itself does not come from Greek mythology. There are no tales of gods riding unicorns or legends of unicorns fighting monsters.
To put it simply, there is no such thing as 'unicorn mythology'."
That in itself is fairly fascinating. A mythological creature not featured in any myths? And in fact, on the next site I found, the only exerpt given that includes a unicorn in the actual story is one from Alice Through the Looking Glass. Not exactly the kind of unicorn we think of when we consider fairy tales and legends....
"Greek scholars actually believed that this creature was real, and that it made its home in India. At the time, India was a little known distant land that seemed magical and mysterious to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Fittingly, the unicorn was seen as a mystical and mysterious creature who commanded great respect and power.This is not unlike the griffin, who many ancient Greeks also believed came from India. And like the griffin, very few specific tales can be told about the unicorn, despite its popularity around the world.
The strangest part has to be the fact that ancient scholars believed that unicorns were real. While this is true of other mythical creatures, unicorns are unique in that they aren't from mythology. For example, ancient people might believe that a Pegasus, the winged horse of Bellerophon, was real because there was a specific myth that spoke of him. The unicorn, on the other hand, has no such myth, so where does the belief in unicorns come from?
Some historians speculate that ancient carvings depicting bulls or goats may have something to do with it. Those creatures both have horns, but obviously they have two horns while the unicorn only has one. The carvings in question, though, show the animals depicted from a perfect side-view, which makes it appear that the creature had a single horn coming from its forehead.
This theory is furthered by the early depictions of unicorns having goat-like cloven hooves and beards. This very well could be where the legends began."
Quite honestly, I would find it hard to believe that anyone would look at an ancient carving and say "OMGoldfish, look it's a unicorn!!" when that picture was actually meant to be a goat. I mean.... I guess it could happen, but really? Why would people back then be more inclined to make up a whole new animal based on a few carvings rather than attempt to accurately interperate the carving? Wouldn't they be intelligent enough to know when they're looking at the side view of a goat?
Maybe that's just me.
"One scholar pointed out another interesting fact about unicorns - they are possibly the only mythical creature that is not based on human fears. Unicorns are not monsters. Anytime they are spoken of in ancient texts they are revered and respected. They are strong, solitary animals who seek to do good for all around them. Never does a unicorn pose a threat to humans, or any other creature that does not seek first to harm them."
[taken from http://www.gods-and-monsters.com/unicorn-myths.html]
Interesting, eh? Now, obviously, this post is in no way expert. But y'all probably already knew that.
I think one of the most interesting things is that the ancient Greeks thought the unicorn lived in India. Now doesn't that do fun things with your imagination?