Petrifaction in mythology and fiction

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For other uses of petrifaction, see Petrified (disambiguation).

Petrifaction, or petrification as defined as turning people to stone, is also a common theme in folklore and mythology, as well as in some works of modern fiction.


Petrification is associated with the legends of Medusa, the basilisk, the Svartálfar and the cockatrice, among others. In fairy tales, characters who fail in a quest may be turned to stone until they are rescued by the successful hero, as in the tales such as The Giant Who Had No Heart in His Body, The Water of Life and The Dancing Water, the Singing Apple, and the Speaking Bird, as well as many troll tales.

In Cornish folklore, petrifaction stories are used to explain the origin of prehistoric megalithic monuments such as stone circles and monoliths, including The Merry Maidens stone circle, The Nine Maidens of Boskednan, the Tregeseal Dancing Stones, and The Hurlers. Supposedly petrified Cardiff Giant was one of the most famous hoaxes in United States history.

Modern fiction[edit]

Petrifaction magic is a major plot element in the animated series Gargoyles and the novels The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (in the film version, however, the characters are not actually turned to stone; they are just put into a cold, lifeless, paralysed, dead-like state) and The Patchwork Girl of Oz (Dr. Pipt's Liquid of Petrifaction), as well as the video games King's Quest: Mask of Eternity, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Mystery Legends: Beauty and the Beast,[1][2] and Spirits of Mystery: Song of the Phoenix.[3]

It is also featured in the novel Percy Jackson & the Olympians; the films The Snow Queen's Revenge and Willow, the manga and anime series Naruto (Senjutsu), Negima! and My-Otome; the TV series Seijuu Sentai Gingaman, Masters of the Universe (Snake Men), My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders (episode "Lady of the Lake"/"Lady of the Lake"); the video games Elite Beat Agents, Drakan: Order of the Flame, Pokémon (the move "Glare"), The Longest Journey (Roper Klacks); and in the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons (the arcane spell Flesh to Stone); among many others works.

The Middle-earth trolls from J. R. R. Tolkien's universe can get turned to stone as well. In the Norwegian film Trollhunter, the trolls turn into stone when exposed to sunlight, as depicted in the folk tales; the film, which is a fictional documentary, contains a 'scientific' explanation for this.

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