Thursday, April 24, 2014


Today is the 21st day of the A to Z April Challenge. Participants in this blog hop post on a letter of the alphabet every day except Sunday. If you'd like to go to the home page to visit other players, click HERE.

I chose Fantasy for my theme and today I'm talking about Unicorns.

The unicorn is a legendary animal that has been described since antiquity as a beast with a large, pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead. The unicorn was depicted in ancient seals of the Indus Valley Civilization and was mentioned by the ancient Greeks in accounts of natural history by various writers, including Ctesias, Strabo, Pliny the Younger, and Aelian.

In European folklore, the unicorn is often depicted as a white horselike or goatlike animal with a long horn and cloven hooves (sometimes a goats beard). In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, it was commonly describes as a wild woodland creature, a symbol of purity and grace, which could only be captured by a virgin. In encyclopedias its horn was said to have the power to render poisoned water potable and to heal sickness. In medieval and Renaissance times, the horn of the narwhal was sometimes sold as unicorn horn.

Unicorns are not found in Greek mythology, but rather in accounts of natural history, for Greek writers of natural history were convinced of the reality of the unicorn, which they located in India, a distant and fabulous realm for them. The earliest description is from Ctesias who, in his book Indika (On India), described them as wild asses, fleet of foot, having a horn a cubit and a half (27 inches) in length, and colored white, red and black. Aristotle must be following Ctesias when he mentions two one-horned animals, the oryx (a kind of antelope) and the so-called Indian ass.

Hunts for an actual animal as the basis of the unicorn myth, accepting the conception of writers in Antiquity that it really existed somewhere at the edge of the known earth have added a further layer of mythologizing about the unicorn. These have taken various forms, interpreted in a scientific, rather than a wonder-filled manner, to accord with modern perceptions of reality.

What was found was fabricated evidence and bones of what was a type of large cattle that once inhabited Europe, Asia and North Africa. Unfortunately, our unicorn myth is just that -  a magical myth that carries tales from the ancients of another time.

Have you used unicorns in your stories? What role did they play?


  1. I never used unicorns in any of my stories but I love the idea of them. Like dragons, if they don't exist, they should.

  2. Rubbish, unicorns and dragons both exist. Tut tut. If the Greeks believed in unicorns and the Chinese and Welsh believed in dragons, that's proof enough for me.