Friday, January 16, 2009
According to the tradition of the Physiologus and medieval bestiaries, the aspidochelone is a fabled sea creature, variously described as a large whale or sea turtle, that is as large as an island. The name aspidochelone appears to be a compound word combining Greek aspis, the asp, and chelone, the turtle. It rises to the surface from the depths of the sea, and entices unwitting sailors to make landfall on its huge shell. In Old English literature, in the poem The Whale, the creature appears under the name Fastitocalon, apparently a variant of aspidochelone. In the moralistic allegory of the Physiologus and bestiary tradition, the aspidochelone represents Satan, who deceives those whom he seeks to devour.