A basilisk, in Historia animalium


The British Library

The British Library
London, United Kingdom

This Italian manuscript contains 245 drawings of different animals, made by someone called ‘Idonius’. Many of the creatures are mythical, including the basilisk, illustrated here. The accompanying description is based on the works of the Roman authors Claudius Aelianus and Pliny the Elder. According to Aelianus, the basilisk was only the width of a palm but it could kill someone instantly with its stare, touch and breath. Intriguingly, Pliny claimed that the basilisk could be killed using the scent of a weasel. Shown here: ff. 129r


  • Title: A basilisk, in Historia animalium
  • Date Created: 1595
  • Location: British Library, London, UK
  • Location Created: Italy
  • Type: Manuscript
  • Original Source: Add MS 82955
  • Rights: Public Domain in most countries other than the UK. For more information visit: https://www.bl.uk/help/how-to-reuse-images-of-unpublished-manuscripts

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