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النشر الإلكتروني

THE UNICORN:

A MYTHOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION.

SECTION I.

THE HERALDIC UNICORN.

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The science of Heraldry has faithfully preserved to modern times various phases of some of those remarkable legends, which, based upon a study of natural phenomena, exhibit the process whereby the greater part of mythology has come into existence. There we find the solar Gryphon,' the solar Phoenix,2 • a demi-eagle displayed issuing from flames of fire,' 3 the solar Lion, and the lunar Unicorn, which two latter noble creatures now harmoniously support the Royal Arms. I propose in the following pages to examine the myth of the Unicorn, the wild, white, fierce, chaste Moon, whose two horns, unlike those of mortal creatures, are indissolubly twisted into one;

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1 Vide R. B. Jr., G. D. M. i. 334 et seq. ; ii. 58–9. 'A male Griffin is distinguished by two straight horns rising from the forehead, and rays of gold which issue from various parts of the body' (Oussans, H. H. 93), the horned and radiate Sun (vide G. D. M. cap. IX. sec. iii. Taurokerós).

? Vide R. B. Jr., The Archaic Solar-Cult of Egypt, in the Theological Review, Oct. 1878, p. 525.

s Cussans, H. H. 95. B

the creature that endlessly fights with the Lion to gain the crown (kopuoń) or summit of heaven which neither may retain, and whose brilliant horn drives away the darkness and evil of the night, even as we find in the myth that venym is defended by the horn of an Vnicorne.'1 As the Moon rules the sea and water,so the horn of the Unicorn is said to purify the streams and pools, and we are told that other animals will not drink until this purification is made; for the Unicorn ere he slakes his thirst, like the sinking Moon, dips his horn in water. As the Moon, Artemis-Selenê, is the “queen and huntress, chaste and fair,' so is the maiden Unicorne’ 8 in the Classical and Middle Ages the emblem of chastity.'4 Their inviolable attachment to virginity, has occasioned them to become the guardian hieroglyphic of that virtue.' 5 According to Upton, quoted by Dallaway, the Unicorn capitur cum arte mirabili. Puella virgo in sylva proponitur solaque relinquitur, qui adveniens depolita omni ferocitate casti corporis pudicitiam in virgine veneratur, caputque suum in sinu puellae imponit, sicque soperatus deprehenditur a venatoribus et occiditur, vel in regali palatio ad spectandum exhibetur.'

Dallaway conjectures that the tester or armour for horses' heads in the centre of which a long spike was fixed, suggested the idea of a beast so defended

1 The Boke of Saint Albans, xliii. ? Vide sec. VIII.
3 Spencer, An Elegie for Astrophell. Fosbroke, E. A. ii. 1022.

5 Dallaway, Inquiries into the Origin and Progress of the Science of Heraldry in England, 1793, p. 421.

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The Heraldic Unicorn.

by nature.' With respect to this view it may suffice to remark that the Unicorn is found on the archaic Cylinder-seals of Babylonia and Assyria, as well as on the Horn of Ulf, whereas the Chanfron with a spike projecting from it was adopted in 1467; probably this is the earliest date.' 8 The Testiere is first mentioned in the time of Edward I., and · Chanfrons or Champfreins, pieces of steel or leather to cover the horse's face,'4 came into vogue about the end of the thirteenth century. Chanfrous is an obsolete northcountry term meaning very fierce.

The Lion is the only animal that appears on the shields in The Roll of Arms known as the Roll of King Henry III.; the Unicorn, however, although not found on any shield in The Roll of Karlaverok, is mentioned by the herald who composed the MS. Siege de Karlaverok, now in the British Museum. He says :

* Robert le seignour de Cliffort,

A ki raisons donne confort
De ses enemis emcombrer,
Toutes les foiz ki remembrer
Ki puet de son noble lignage.
Escoce pregn à teismoignage,
Ke ben e noblement commence,
Cum cil ki est de la semence
Le Conte Mareschal le noble
Ki par dela Constentinoble
A l'unicorn so combati
E desouz li mort le abati,

Robert the lord of Olifford,
To whom reason gives consolation
To overcome his enemies,
Every time he calls to memory
The fame of his noble lineage.
He calls Scotland to bear witness,
That he begins well and nobly,
As one who is of the race
Of the noble Earl Marshall,
Who beyond Constantinople
Fought with the Unicorn
And struck him dead beneath him.'

1 Vide sec. III.

? Vide Frontispiece. And sec. VI. 3 Fosbroke, E. A. ii. 892.

4 Ibid. 878-9. Halliwell, Dict. of Archaic and Provincial Words, in voc. Wright, The Roll of Caerlaverock, 11-12.

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