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Fantastic Creatures

The belief in creatures and monsters dates back to antiquity, cropping up in world mythologies and early religious texts. Fire-breathing dragons, griffins, unicorns, krakens, basilisks, and a host of other creatures populate romantic literature and natural histories produced across Europe during the Middle Ages. Writers from antiquity such as Pliny the Elder and Strabo both mention one-horned animals. Pliny also mentions the “basilisk of Cyrene,” a snake that leaves a wide trail of venom in its wake and can kill with a gaze from its eyes. Medieval bestiaries frequently list mythical creatures, such as griffins and unicorns, alongside more prosaic offerings of bears and horses.