Medieval Art Stories Myths and creatures

The Myth of the Unicorn

In a world where there are creatures like the penguin, narwhal or even the platypus, the existence of the unicorn would not be surprising.

But what is there to the myth of the unicorn? Did they really exist? And if so, what significance did they have for us?


Where does this unicorn hype come from? Or to put it another way: Where did the unicorn originate? Did this mythical creature really exist? What is the unicorn doing in the Bible? And where did it “get” its horn?

Hardly any mythical creature can be traced back as far as the unicorn. In China, for example, the Chi-lin, the unicorn, was reported as early as 2697 BC. So it is not surprising that it is mentioned in the Bible, or even that the existence of this creature was recognised until the 17th century.

Find out why the myth of the unicorn was so widespread and what its horn is all about.

⏰⏰ TOPICS ⏰⏰

0:00​ Where does the unicorn hype come from?

0:12 Intro

0:28 First historical mention of the unicorn

1:14 The Peterborough Bestiary

1:32 The virgin as a lure

1:53 The unicorn as a representation of the Passion of Christ

2:13 The biblical image of the unicorn

2:51 Marco Polo’s travelogues

3:32 Origin and trade of the unicorn horn

4:36 Remedy and aphrodisiac

5:23 The Miraculous Incidents of Franz von Retz


6:08 The Virgin and the Unicorn

7:07 Symbol of chastity

7:39 The Rosenhag Madonna

8:05 “Save me from the unicorns!”: the unicorn as a hostile being

8:59 Unicorns and eroticism

9:37 The unicorn as heraldic animal

9:50 Lady with unicorn

10:38 Unicorn hunting

11:14 Happy captivity

12:20 Farewell and comments

13:02 Outro

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