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A MYTHOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION.
THE HERALDIC UNICOEN.
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,1 the solar Phoenix,2 'a demi-eagle displayed issuing from flames of fire,' s the solar Lion, and the lunar Unicorn, which two latter noble creatures now harmoniously support the Eoyal 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;
1 Vide R. B. Jr., G. D. M. i. 834 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. 98), the horned and radiate Sun (vide O. D. M. cap. IX. sec. iii. Taurokeros).
2 Vide R. B. Jr., The Archaic Solar-Cult of Egypt, in the Theological Review, Oct. 1878, p. 525. 3 Cussans, H. H. 95.
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 tható venym is defended by the horn of an Vnicorne.'l 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’s «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. 2 Vide sec. VIII. 3 Spencer, An Elegie for Astrophell. 4 Fosbroke, E. A. ii. 1022.
5 Dallaway, Inquiries into the Origin and Progress of the Science of Heraldry in England, 1793, p. 421.
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,1 as well as on the Horn of Ulf,2 whereas 'the Chanfron with a spike projecting from it was adopted in 1467; probably this is the earliest date.' 3 The Testiere is first mentioned in the time of Edward I., and ' Chanfrons or Champ/reins, 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.5
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, Robert the lord of Clifford,
A ki raisons donne confort To whom reason gives consolation
De ses enemis emcombrer, To overcome his enemies,
Toutes les foiz ki remembrer Every time he calls to memory
Ki puet de son noble lignage. The fame of his noble lineage.
Escoce pregn a teismoignage, He calls Scotland to bear "witness,
Ke ben e noblement commence, That he begins well and nobly,
Cum cil ki est de la semence As one who is of the race
Le Conte Mareschal le noble Of the noble Earl Marshall,
Ki par dela Constentinoble Who beyond Constantinople
A l'unicorn se combati Fought with the Unicorn
E desouz li mort le abati. And struck him dead beneath him.'6
1 Vide sec. III. 2 Vide Frontispiece. And sec. VI.
3 Fosbroke, E. A. ii. 892. "Ibid. 878-9.
Halliwell, Diet, of Archaic and Provincial Words, in voc.
Wright, The Roll of Caerlaverock, 11-12.
The Gryphon, it may be observed, appears in the Roll as a Charge :"Symon de Montagu,
Simon de Montagu, Ke avoit baniere e escu
Who had a banner and shield De inde, au grifoun rampant de Blue, with a griffin rampant of fine or fin.
gold!!! Sir Harris Nicholas observes that the exploit which is said to have been performed by the Earl Marshall at Constantinople in slaying a unicorn, which probably referred to a tradition familiar at the time of some deed of one of the Marshall family in the Holy Land,' is not elsewhere commemorated.'2
In opposition to the opinion that the Unicorn could be captured by means of the stratagem above mentioned, it was more generally held that, like the Gryphon, the Unicorne is never taken alive; and the reason being demanded, it is answered, that the greatnesse of his mind is such, that he choseth rather to die than to be taken alive.'4 The real reason why both Gryphon and Unicorn are safe from capture is sufficiently obvious.
Cnut is said amongst other 'naval devices,' to have * exhibited unicorns, centaurs, dragons, lions, dolphins, and human figures. The swift unicorn, either Anglo-Saxon or Dane, was obliged to fly before the two Norman leopards (or perhaps “ lions ”5]. Hence
i Wright, The Roll of Caerlaverock, 17. 2 The Siege of Carlaverock, 186. .
3 "The Griffon having attained his full growth, will never be taken alive' (Guillim, D. H. 259).
4 Ibid. 176. 5 Vide Scott, Lord of the Isles, vi. 35. Also Cussans, H. H. 79, upon the quaestio vexata whether the Shield of England originally bore Lions or Leopards.