The scream of the fenix
A basilisk is a legendary monster that can kill with a glance. It is also said to leave a trail of deadly poison in its wake. The basilisk was a staple of European bestiaries of the ancient era and the Middle Ages, in which it is often referred to as the king of serpents. According tolegend, the monster is born of a serpent’s egg hatched by a hen.
Though the basilisk is always reptilian, its form differs according to the source. Descriptions of the basilisk fall into three main categories, but there is a great deal of variation within each. The basilisk may be described as a snake, a lizard, or a cockatrice, another legendary creature that is half serpent and half rooster.
In each form, the basilisk is expectedly monstrous. Though one of the earliest sources of thelegend, Pliny’s Natural History of 79 CE, describes the basilisk as a small, though intensely poisonous, snake, in later versions, the monster is almost always gargantuan. Some descriptions of the basilisk give it many legs, others only a serpent’s tail. In many versions, the monster has a crown-shaped crest, which is explained as the reason for the basilisk’s nickname, the “king of serpents.”