Nobody Knows Have you seen the Progressive car insurance commercial where the bimbo Progressive Lady says that when she thinks of togetherness (like auto and house insurance) she thinks of glitter and unicorns?
I know...I'm glad she's not my neighbor. But, that got me to thinking...just about EVERYONE in the world thinks that unicorns never existed. Never..just a fairy tale princess item made up to make millions of little toys for little girls to fantasize about having her own pony.
Okay, bear with me because I never had a thing for unicorns..but the other day, I read this account, written by a man named John Sparke, in 1565:
"The Floridians have pieces of unicorns' horns, which they wear about their
necks, whereof the Frenchmen obtained many pieces. Of those unicorns they have
many, for that they do affirm it to be a beast with one horn, which coming to
the river to drink, puts the same into the water before she drinks."
Yeah...guess what? Years ago...everyone talked about unicorns as if they were just another fish in the sea, turtle on the log, bar-bee on the skillet. Who knew?
John goes on to describe the rest of the animals of Florida in great detail, all of whom still exist today, and lumped the unicorn right in there with the dolphins and flamingos. It was obvious that John Sparke did not SEE the unicorns, but believed they existed because the natives and the French guys had the horns around their necks.
This was before men could buy Mercedes Benzes.
And he wasn't alone.. Unicorns are in many accounts of Greek historians. Ctesias described then as wild asses, "fleet of foot, having a horn a cubit and a half in length and colored white, red, and black. Aristotle mentioned two one-horned animals, the Oryx and the "Indian ass." Strabo says there were one-horned horses with stag-like heads. Pliny the Elder describes what seems to be a rhinoceros: "a very fierce animal called the monoceros which has the head of the stag, the feet of the elephant, and the tail of a boar, while the rest of the body is like that of a horse: it makes a deep lowing noise, and has a single black horn, which projects from the middle of its forehead, two cubits in length."
The bible mentions them quite a few times...for example: "God brought them out of Egypt: he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn."
Marco Polo described them as scarcely smaller than elephants.
"They have the hair of a buffalo and feet like an elephant's. They have a
single large black horn in the middle of the forehead, and they have the head
like a wild boar's. They spend their time by preference wallowing in mud and
slime. They are very ugly brutes to look at. They are not at all such as we
describe them when we relate that they let themselves be captured by virgins,
but clean contrary to our notions. "
Good old Marco Polo. No wonder they named a swimming game after him.
Yeah...I love history. Especially this part: Unicorns, according to all those who knew one, could be captured by a virgin. (Okay, when I was a virgin, I couldn't capture a damn thing..what gives here?)
Leonardo Da Vinci wrote:
"The unicorn, through its intemperance and not knowing how to control
itself, for the love it bears to fair maidens forgets it ferocity and wildness;
and laying aside all fear it will go up to a seated damsel and go to sleep in
her lap, and thus the hunters take it."
Good old Leonardo. Not quite up to Marco's observations..but definitely more entertaining.
Wow...there's a moral in there somewhere. Mean and horny beasts, who cannot control themselves, become kittens in the laps of virgins. We need to find some virgins fast and send them to the Capitol....
Or else America will become the next fairy tale.
So, was there ever such a creature as a unicorn?
John Sparke says yes. And I'm certainly not going to argue with history, or virgins.