Friday, November 28, 2008

A. fragilis fremoris

The serpent known as LAQUEUS FREMORIS is called this because it makes a loud noise when handled roughly, and because despite its ability to break off a section of its back end, it is so long and sturdy that, even when so broken, it can be tied into a noose suitable for hanging a man. The animals were used for this purpose during the reign of Gallienus, when the Appian Way was beset with bandit attacks led by the dissolute philosopher Pidepibus (known earlier for his translations of Zeno), who demanded a blood oath from his men not to exhibit any signs of remorse, sorrow or pain once in custody. In response, the wily Praetor Titurva chose to eschew crucifixion and execute the captured bandits by hanging them at a certain distance from public spectators — so that the type of noose employed was less evident, and so that the serpents’ cries could more effectively displace the stubborn silence of the condemned. It is said that a bandit and his rope would often expire at the same moment.

From: M. M. Trevevemme, Trans. & Ed., Selections from Three 13th Century Bestiaries. London: Bungrove Press, 1973: p. 166.