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Mostruose metamorfosi: sull’ibridazione iconografica del basilisco

Valentina Borniotto    Università di Genova, Italia    



The paper aims to highlight the centrality of a late process of metamorphosis, which has unequivocally conditioned the image of the basilisk, radically transforming its appearance from a simple snake to a monster with the body of a rooster and a snake’s tail. The basilisk described in the classical sources corresponded to a small snake but was characterized by an extraordinary poisonous power. With the passage to the Middle Ages and the influence of Christianity, the basilisk took on new monstrous meanings, transforming its iconography into a rooster-snake hybrid, based on theories that believed it was generated from a rooster’s egg. The Renaissance and Early Modern Age inherited the medieval basilisk, which continued to be prominently depicted in emblematic literature; in parallel, however, the new scientific literature began to exclude excessively legendary meanings, preferring to return to descriptions of the classical era and thus depict the basilisk as a snake.

20 Dicembre 2023
10 Luglio 2023

Keywords: MonsterBasiliskRoosterSnakeMetamorphosis

Copyright: © 2023 Valentina Borniotto. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.