There is the same power also in the serpent called the basilisk. It is produced in the province of Cyrene, being not more than twelve fingers in length. It has a white spot on the head, strongly resembling a sort of a diadem. When it hisses, all the other serpents fly from it: and it does not advance its body, like the others, by a succession of folds, but moves along upright and erect upon the middle. It destroys all shrubs, not only by its contact, but those even that it has breathed upon; it burns up all the grass too, and breaks the stones, so tremendous is its noxious influence. It was formerly a general belief that if a man on horseback killed one of these animals with a spear, the poison would run up the weapon and kill, not only the rider, but the horse as well. To this dreadful monster the effluvium of the weasel is fatal, a thing that has been tried with success, for kings have often desired to see its body when killed; so true is it that it has pleased Nature that there should be nothing without its antidote. The animal is thrown into the hole of the basilisk, which is easily known from the soil around it being infected. The weasel destroys the basilisk by its odor, but dies itself in this struggle of nature against its own self.
- It was not the gaze itself that killed, but rather the corruption of the air between the basilisk and the victim.
- Its breath was a poisonous fume.
- The basilisk could breathe fire.
- It could kill with the sound of its hiss.
- Touching a basilisk would kill. This ability also included accounts where the victim might die if the basilisk touched something the victim was also touching, like a sword or spear.
- It grew in size (considerably) depending on the author and is described as a much larger creature.
- On some coats of arms, the basilisk is given legs and wings, as to be a small dragon.
Few creatures have seemingly captured the imagination of both ancient and modern writers. This was truly a terrible beast!