Introduction and Physical Description

Aspises are serpents or dragons found in medieval European mythology [1] probably based on the characteristics of the aspic viper (Vipera aspis). [2] The singular form is Aspis, and the name means 'serpent.' [1]

European folklore presents varying descriptions of the Aspises. Some claim they are smaller than a full-sized dragon with two feet and wings; [1] others state that they are quadruped dragons with wings. [2]

All resources on the Aspis agree on one element of the species: Aspises are highly poisonous. [2] An Aspis is so poisonous that touching its skin, even the skin of a dead one, would be fatal. [1] The bite of an Aspis causes instantaneous death. [1]

Defending Against the Aspis

There is one sure method for avoiding an attack by an Aspises; they are distracted or entranced by music. [1] Many Aspises are aware of this particular flaw, so they developed a defense mechanism to dull their sensitivity to music. [1]

The Aspis is often depicted in this music-dulling position, with one ear to the ground and the other ear stopped with its own tail. [2] Even when the Aspis managed to stop the entrancing effects of music on itself, it also enables anyone nearby to escape. [1]

The Aspis is a symbol of evil and stubbornness, and its illustration often found itself among depictions of the Basilisk, Lion, or Dragon. [2]


  1. Rose [Monsters] 28
  2. Herder Symbols 14

For more information on footnotes and references, please see the bibliography.