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The Scitalis or Scytale is a serpent from Medieval bestiaries with such marvelous markings on its back that its appearance would stun the viewer, slowing the person down so that they could be caught. Its bodily heat was so great that it shed its skin even in the winter.[1]

Quotes Pertaining to the Scitalis[edit]

  • Lucan [1st century CE] (Pharsalia, book 9, verse 841-842): "Sole of all serpents Scytale to shed / In vernal frosts his slough...".
  • Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 4:19): The scitalis (scytale) has a skin that shines with such variety that by these marks it slows down any who see it. It creeps slowly and cannot pursue its prey, so it stupifies with its marvelous appearance. It is so hot that even in winter it sheds its skin."


  1. ^ "Scitalis". The Medieval Bestiary. Retrieved 2008-12-28.