• Greek: basiliskos, little king


A fabulous monster formerly believed to exist in Africa and sometimes identified with the cockatrice. Its breath and even its look were reputed fatal, it being successfully combated only by the weasel or by means of a mirror. It is described as about a foot long, black and red in color, with a white, crown-like spot on the head, whence its name. It is referred to in the Bible, under the names of adder, asp, cobra, flying serpent, and viper (Isaiah 59), and in New Testament times came to represent the heresy of Arianism in art.