African Dragon

Dragon History

African Dragon

A dragon of two heads:

by Marisa E. Martínez Pérsico

AmphisbaenaPossibly originated in North Africa - although its cult extended later to Greece, the Amphisbaena was a dragon of two heads: one located in the superior part of the body and another one in the end of its tail. The union of its head with its tail allowed him to create a circle and to move rolling.

Amphisbaena is also known as Amphisbaina, Amphisbene, Anphisboena, Amphisbona, Amphista, Amphivena and Anphivena; the root of the name comes from the Greek words amfis (that means “of two ways”) and bainein (that means “to go”). This dragon has been called “the mother of the ants”, since it feeds on ants that ate with both heads.

According to Greek mythology, the mythological Amphisbaena brought forth from the blood of Medusa or head of Gorgona that the hero Perseo spilled while he flew over the Desert of Libya. There, Amphisbaena grew surrounded by serpents, feeding from the corpses.

Amphisbaena has been an animal celebrated by the lyric of poets like Nicander, John Milton, Alexander Pope and Lord Tennyson. It was also mentioned as a legendary mythological creature by Lucanus, Pliny the Elder, Saint Isidore of Seville and Sir Thomas Browne.

Regarding its physical appearance, the descriptions show it like a serpent - similar to the Sand Boa, very common in India but with a head in his rear end. Nevertheless, the medieval and modern drawings show it with chicken feet and feathered wings. It is even represented with horns in the superior head and small, round ears. The horns are usually long and curved, or slightly twisted in spiral.

Many descriptions of the Amphisbaena mention it with eyes that shine intensely as candles or lightning. It was a creature very common in the heraldic, and it’s believed to have regenerative capacities: a popular belief indicates that if pregnant women are placed an Amphisbaena around their necks they enjoy pregnancies safely.

It is also described as a serpent of poisonous fangs, according to the chronicles of Pliny the Elder.

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