Saturday, April 2, 2011

A-Z: Basilisk

"What we are seeking, sir, is an animal, that may be touched by no man's hand."

"How strange," said Zadig. "May I be so bold as to ask you what shuns all but a woman's touch?"

"A Basilisk," said she.

"A Basilisk, Madame? And why, may I inquire, do you seek a Basilisk?"

"It is for our Lord and Master Ogul, whose castle you can see at the riverside, on the edge of the field. We are all his humble slaves; the Lord Ogul is ill; his physician has prescribed to him a remedy of Basilisk boiled in rose water; and as it is a very rare animal, who may only be captured by the fairer sex, the Lord Ogul has promised to take as his consort she among us who will bring a Basilisk to him."

–– Voltaire, Zadig (in Romans et Contes. Paris: Gallimard, 1954. Translation by Bard)

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