All of the beasts obeyed Noah when he admitted them into the ark. All but the unicorn. Confident of his strength he boasted ‘I shall swim!’.For fourty days and fourty nights the rains poured down and the oceans boiled as in a pot and all the heights were flooded. The birds of the air clung onto the ark and when the ark pitched they were all engulfed. But the unicorn kept on swimming. When, however, the birds emerged again theyperched on his horn and he went under — and that’s why there are no more unicorns now.’
— from a Ukranian folk tale
The unicorn is a wonderful mythical beast. The writings of Aristotle, Genghis Khan, Saint Thomas, and Saint Gregory reflect the fact that these men considered the unicorn as real creature. Webster’s 7th edition defines a unicorn as ‘a mythical animal generally depicted with the body and head of a horse, hind legs of a stag, tail of a lion, and a single horn in the middle of its forehead’. The word ‘unicorn’ derives from the Latin ‘Uni’, meaning one, and ‘Cornu, meaning horn. The unicorn has been depicted in the folklore and legends of other cultures besides ours.
The horn of the unicorn has been sought after for many centuries. It was thought to have magical powers, and could clean poisons. Pope Paul III is said to have paid 12,000 gold pieces for one, and James I of England paid 10,000 pounds Sterling for a unicorn horn. The horn of the narwhal was a common substitute for that of the unicorn for those popular men. A common test to determine the validity of aunicorn horn was to use its magical properties of purification. David DePomis wrote, ‘There is very little of the true horn to be found, most of that which is sold as such being either stag’s horn, or elephant’s tusk. A true test by which one may know the genuine horn from the false: Place the horn in a vessel of any sort of material you like, and with it three or four large and live scorpions, keeping the vessel covered. If you find four hours later that the scorpions are dead or almost lifeless, the horn is a good one, and there is not enough money in the world to pay for it’.
The most popluar legends surrounding the unicorn are in Western culture. The view of the unicorn as a horse with a horn is popular, and has been depicted in our heritage for thousands of years. The unicorn is mentioned in the Bible in several verses. The Palm Sunday tract in the Roman Catholic missal reads, ‘Deliver me from the lion’s mouth, and my lowliness from the horns of unicorns’. Saint Ambrose, the Bishop of Milanin the fourth century, considered the unicorn a symbol of Christ as he wrote, ‘Who then has one horn, unless it be the only begotten son, the unique word of God, which has been next to God from the very beginning?’Saint Augustine considered the horn of the unicorn to be a symbol of the unity of the faith of the Church.
The hunter stood beside me Who blew that mighty horn. I saw that he was hunting The gentle unicorn.
But the unicorn is noble He knows his gentle birth He knows that God has chose him above All beast on Earth. He’s placed on a ledge that climbs.
The ledge that climbs high in the sky. It sparkles and shimmers a gleam so wide The unicorns roam and rare-up high They are God’s special creatures And live a righteous life.
For they fear no man and scorn their dart. And only a virgin’s magic power shall tame their haughtly heart.
Rhonda WoodsAge: 16