Petrifaction in mythology and fiction

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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 and The Patchwork Girl of Oz (Dr. Pipt's Liquid of Petrifaction). Folkloric uses of petrification were introduced in the first edition of the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop role-playing game, which inspired later use in many video games such as King's Quest: Mask of Eternity, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. 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!,Witch Craft Works, Campione! 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"), and The Longest Journey (Roper Klacks), among many others.

Middle-earth trolls from J. R. R. Tolkien's universe can be turned to stone by direct sunlight, as depicted in folk tales. This vulnerability is also depicted in the Norwegian film Trollhunter, a fictional documentary that contains a "scientific" explanation for this.

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