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Mythical Beasts

Mythical Beasts

Encyclopedia Chimerica: The Phoenixian Book of Creatures

A hand-illustrated catalog of mythical creatures from international folklore, legend, and fiction. Search by name or type to find everything you ever wanted to know about fabulous beasts from the Abominable Snowman to Zombies.

The Medieval Bestiary: Animals in the Middle    

Beasts! Creatures both fictional and real are the topic of the Medieval Bestiary site. See pictures and read text from the ancient books of beasts and birds. Link to the Bestiary Blog or find articles about fantastic creatures.


Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns and Mermaids

Companion website to a 2008 exhibit that examines "the legend and the science behind some of the most fascinating creatures ever invented. ... [by displaying] preserved specimens, cultural artifacts and works of art." View exhibit highlight ...


The Aberdeen Bestiary  

"A Bestiary is a collection of short descriptions about all sorts of animals, real and imaginary, birds and even rocks,

accompanied by a moralizing explanation." The Aberdeen Bestiary appeared in 12th century England.


Getty Museum Bestiaries 

(Site Excerpt) Are bestiaries secular or sacred literature? The genre illustrates the problem of applying such modern-day distinctions to a period like the Middle Ages, when the lines between secular and sacred were not clear-cut. Lay brothers serving in cathedrals, for example, read bestiaries, and preachers also looked to them for source material for their sermons. Yet the wide distribution of vernacular translations also suggests they were enormously popular with lay readers. 



(Site Excerpt) While some works of the Latin Classics were carefully and accurately transcribed for their value as exemplars of the Latin language, other works from the Classical era became incorporated into medieval literature. Sometimes mistranscribed, mistranslated or misunderstood, they were then adorned with various additions to become something completely different and part of a living, growing literary tradition in the medieval era.

Possibly the most delightful of this genre is the category of works known as the bestiary. This class of work is also a good example for contemplation of the difference between medieval literary and practical knowledge.