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Although a unicorn can technically be any one-horned animal, it is almost always that of a mythical, horse-like beast with a horn protruding from its forehead. They appear in Roman bestiaries, as well as several other mythologies. It is usually portrayed as a horned white horse (sometimes being a Winged unicorn).

Abilities

Unicorns are said to have healing powers, and drinking the blood of one can keep you alive when you are sick. They are also believed to have other powers whicn they do with their horns, e.g spells and enchantments. Unicorns can also live forever, or until killed. Unicorn horns can bring the dead back to life and clean polluted water.

Variations

Biblical

The Bible contains references to unicorn-type creatures called Re'ems. They are physically described as wild beasts with one horn coming out of their head. They are supposedly untameable, strong, and agile, and are often used as examples of those characteristics. Re'ems are now identified with the aurochs and other bull-related species.

Ancient Rome

The first recorded mention of a Unicorn was from Pliny the Elder in 50 AD. He stated "The unicorn is the fiercest animal, and it is said that it is impossible to capture one alive. It has the body of a horse, the head of a stag, the feet of an elephant, the tail of a boar, and a single black horn three feet long in the middle of its forehead. Its cry is a deep bellow."

Medieval and Renaissance European

The unicorns of Medieval and Renaissance mythology is based on the Biblical version.  It has one horn coming out of its forehead.  It is usually described as a kind of donkey, horse, and/or goat. In Renaissance mythology and art, the unicorn is a horse with a narwhal-like horn coming out of its forehead. They are stronger, faster, smarter, and more viscous than any other kind of horse.  However; they have a great love of fair maidens and virgins. If it sees one it becomes docile.  This is why maidens were used as bait in attempted unicorn hunting. Unicorns were often shown with pure white or greyish-white coats.

The word "alicorn" was first used in the Renaissance.  It is the name the unicorn horn and the substance it is made of.

Heraldry

The unicorn is famously used as the national animal of Scotland. To this extent, it is used as a supporter in the arms of Scotland and the UK.

The coat of arms of Nova Scotia acknowledges its historical connection with Scotland. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Clearances of the Scottish Highlands forced many Gaelic Scots to resettle, abandoning their ancestral lands. Many fled to what is now Nova Scotia, resulting in a large Gaelic-speaking community.

Other names

In Greek mythology; the unicorn is called a monoceratus (plural monocerati).

Gallery

This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Unicorn (view authors). As with Myths and Folklore Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported).
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