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Unicorn graphic

According to medieval legend, the unicorn could be captured only by a virgin girl, because his irresistible desire was to lay his horn in a maiden's lap. While thus engaged, he was incapable of resisting capture. (However, no unicorns were ever captured.)


The unicorn was a secret phallic consort of the virgin Mary, shown inside her "enclosed garden" of virginity, in many examples of Christian mystical art. At times he was identified with the Savior. A medieval hymn called Christ "the wild wild unicorn whom the Virgin caught and tamed."


A source of the unicorn myth may have been the Babylonian dragon-beast made up of a horse like body with lion's forelegs, scales a snakelike neck and a flat horned head with a single spike growing from the center of the nose. One theory proposes that the unicorn was originally the bull of spring, rearing up and struggling with the lion of summer. Babylonian art showed both animals in profile, so the bull appeared to have only one horn. The British coat of arms still has "the lion and the unicorn" contending in just such a manner.


Explorers thought they found the legendary unicorn in the African rhinoceros. Because of the unicorn's phallic significance, powdered rhinoceros horn became a highly popular "remedy" for impotence, and is so used even today.

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Myths and Legends

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