The Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana is a library and Renaissance building in Venice, northern Italy. The library is named after the patron saint of Venice, it is not to be confused with the State Archive of the Republic of Venice, housed in a different part of the city. The building, begun in 1537, is the "undoubted masterpiece" of Jacopo Sansovino, a key work in Venetian Renaissance architecture. Andrea Palladio, who saw it being built, called it "probably the richest built from the days of ancients up to now", it has been described by Frederick Hartt as "surely one of the most satisfying structures in Italian architectural history", it has an prominent site, with the long facade facing the Doge's Palace across the Piazzetta di San Marco, the shorter sides facing the lagoon and the Piazza San Marco. Venice had become the main Italian centre of book printing and publishing, the library was an opportunity to promote what had become an important industry for the city, it was provided with a building designed by Jacopo Sansovino.
On this prime site, owned by the Republic, the library itself was always only on the upper floor, with the ground floor let to shops and, today and restaurants. The first sixteen arcaded bays of his design were constructed during 1537 to 1553, with work on frescoes and other decorations continuing until 1560. Sansovino died in 1570, but in 1588, Vincenzo Scamozzi undertook the construction of the additional five bays, still to Sansovino's design, which brought the building down to the molo or embankment, next to Sansovino's building for the Venetian mint, the Zecca; the upper storey of the building took a device which Andrea Palladio would adapt to the pre-existing Venetian window to introduce what has become known as the Palladian window, as Palladio used it so often. The Venetian window has three parts: a central high round-arched opening, with two smaller rectangular openings to the sides, the latter topped by lintels and supported by columns. Sansovino's upper storey in the library has only a single tall opening, places a larger order in between each window, doubles the small columns supporting the arch, placing the second column behind rather than beside the first.
Palladio would add the side openings, in his Basilica Palladiana in Vicenza. The ground floor uses the Doric order, as opposed to the Ionic above, is based on the Colosseum in Rome; the whole building is richly decorated, with high relief sculptures in the spandrels, lower reliefs of mythological scenes on the soffits of the arches. No large areas of plain wall are visible at all. At the top of the building there is a rich frieze with putti and large garlands a balustrade on the roofline, with standing nude classical deities, so that "the upper contour of the structure... dissolves against the sky", "all traditional boundaries of the building block are thus dissolved". The sculpture was by various artists; the building, though in a rich Renaissance classicism, has enough elements in common with the Venetian Gothic Doge's Palace across the square to harmonize well with it. These include the round heads to the openings, the arcades on the first two storeys; the entrance from the arcade to the upper floor is not marked or suggested by any special feature on the outside, which one would expect in a grand building of the period.
This somewhat gives the impression that this long facade might be just the side of an enormous building. In fact, with 21 bays at the front and three at the sides, it is very long and thin, although it does extend some way backwards in places; when Scamozzi built the abutting Procuratie Nuove along the Piazza San Marco, he used similar styles for the lower two floors, but had a third storey above, in the Corinthian order and with rectangular aedicule windows, topped by alternating curved and triangular pediments. The main interior rooms are lavishly decorated, with oil paintings by Titian, Paolo Veronese, Bernardo Strozzi, Andrea Schiavone and others set into the walls and rich ceilings; these show mythological and allegorical figures and groups. One of the early librarians, from 1530, was Pietro Bembo. However, the library stock began to be collected before the construction of the building. For example, the germ of the collections in the library was the gift to the Serenissima of the manuscript collection assembled by Byzantine humanist, scholar and collector, Cardinal Bessarion, he made a gift of his collection on 31 May 1468: some 750 codices in Latin and Greek, to which he added another 250 manuscripts and some printed books, constituting the first "public" library open to scholars in Venice.
Like the British Library or the Library of Congress at times, the Biblioteca Marciana profited from a law of 1603 that required that a copy be deposited in the Marciana of all books printed at Venice, the first such law. The Marciana was enriched by the transfer in the late eighteenth century of the collections accumulated in several monasteries, such as SS. Giovanni e Paolo in Venice and S. Giovanni di Verdara in Padua. Major additions made to the collection include: 1589: Melchiorre Guilandino of Marienburg.
Taoism, or Daoism, is a religious or philosophical tradition of Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao. The Tao is a fundamental idea in most Chinese philosophical schools. Taoism differs from Confucianism by not emphasizing rigid rituals and social order, but is similar in the sense that it is a teaching about the various disciplines for achieving "perfection" by becoming one with the unplanned rhythms of the universe called "the way" or "dao". Taoist ethics vary depending on the particular school, but in general tend to emphasize wu wei, "naturalness", simplicity and the Three Treasures: 慈 "compassion", 儉 "frugality", 不敢為天下先 "humility"; the roots of Taoism go back at least to the 4th century BCE. Early Taoism drew its cosmological notions from the School of Yinyang, was influenced by one of the oldest texts of Chinese culture, the I Ching, which expounds a philosophical system about how to keep human behavior in accordance with the alternating cycles of nature; the "Legalist" Shen Buhai may have been a major influence, expounding a realpolitik of wu wei.
The Tao Te Ching, a compact book containing teachings attributed to Laozi, is considered the keystone work of the Taoist tradition, together with the writings of Zhuangzi. By the Han dynasty, the various sources of Taoism had coalesced into a coherent tradition of religious organizations and orders of ritualists in the state of Shu. In earlier ancient China, Taoists were thought of as hermits or recluses who did not participate in political life. Zhuangzi was the best known of these, it is significant that he lived in the south, where he was part of local Chinese shamanic traditions. Female shamans played an important role in this tradition, strong in the southern state of Chu. Early Taoist movements developed their own institution in contrast to shamanism, but absorbed basic shamanic elements. Shamans revealed basic texts of Taoism from early times down to at least the 20th century. Institutional orders of Taoism evolved in various strains that in more recent times are conventionally grouped into two main branches: Quanzhen Taoism and Zhengyi Taoism.
After Laozi and Zhuangzi, the literature of Taoism grew and was compiled in form of a canon—the Daozang—which was published at the behest of the emperor. Throughout Chinese history, Taoism was nominated several times as a state religion. After the 17th century, however, it fell from favor. Taoism has had a profound influence on Chinese culture in the course of the centuries, Taoists, a title traditionally attributed only to the clergy and not to their lay followers take care to note distinction between their ritual tradition and the practices of Chinese folk religion and non-Taoist vernacular ritual orders, which are mistakenly identified as pertaining to Taoism. Chinese alchemy, Chinese astrology, Chan Buddhism, several martial arts, traditional Chinese medicine, feng shui, many styles of qigong have been intertwined with Taoism throughout history. Beyond China, Taoism had influence on surrounding societies in Asia. Today, the Taoist tradition is one of the five religious doctrines recognized in the People's Republic of China as well as the Republic of China, although it does not travel from its East Asian roots, it claims adherents in a number of societies, in particular in Hong Kong, in Southeast Asia.
Since the introduction of the Pinyin system for romanizing Mandarin Chinese, there have been those who have felt that "Taoism" would be more appropriately spelled as "Daoism". The Mandarin Chinese pronunciation for the word 道 is spelled as tao4 in the older Wade–Giles romanization system while it is spelled as dào in the newer Pinyin romanization system. Both the Wade–Giles tao4 and the Pinyin dào are intended to be pronounced identically in Mandarin Chinese, but despite this fact, "Taoism" and "Daoism" can be pronounced differently in English vernacular; the word "Taoism" is used to translate different Chinese terms which refer to different aspects of the same tradition and semantic field: "Taoist religion", or the "liturgical" aspect – A family of organized religious movements sharing concepts or terminology from "Taoist philosophy". "Taoist philosophy" or "Taology", or the "mystical" aspect – The philosophical doctrines based on the texts of the I Ching, the Tao Te Ching and the Zhuangzi.
These texts were linked together as "Taoist philosophy" during the early Han Dynasty, but notably not before. It is unlikely that Zhuangzi was familiar with the text of the Daodejing, Zhuangzi would not have identified himself as a Taoist as this classification did not arise until well after his death. However, the discussed distinction is rejected by the majority of Japanese scholars, it is contested by hermeneutic difficulties in the categorization of the different Taoist schools and movements. Taoism does not f
Self-cannibalism is the practice of eating oneself called autocannibalism, or autosarcophagy. A similar term, applied differently is autophagy, which denotes the normal process of self-degradation by cells. While an exclusive term for this process, autophagy nonetheless has made its way into more common usage. A certain amount of self-cannibalism occurs unwittingly, as the body consumes dead cells from the tongue and cheeks. Ingesting one's own blood from an unintentional lesion such as a nose-bleed or an ulcer is not intentional harvesting and not considered cannibalistic. Ingesting one’s own blood on purpose from a deliberate wound is, however. Fingernail-biting that develops into fingernail-eating is a form of pica, although many do not consider nail biting as a true form of cannibalism. Other forms of pica include the compulsion of eating one's own hair, which can form a hairball in the stomach. Left untreated, this can cause death due to excessive hair buildup; some people will engage in self-cannibalism as an extreme form of body modification, for example eating their own skin.
Others will drink their own blood, a practice called autovampirism, but sucking blood from wounds is not considered cannibalism. Placentophagy may be a form of self-cannibalism. Forced self-cannibalism as a form of torture or war crime has been reported. Erzsébet Báthory forced some of her servants to eat their own flesh in the early 17th century. Incidents were reported in the years following the 1991 Haitian coup d'état. In the 1990s, young people in Sudan were forced to eat their own ears; the short-tailed cricket is known to eat its own wings. There is evidence of certain animals digesting their own nervous tissue when they transition to a new phase of life; the sea squirt contains a ganglion "brain" in its head, which it digests after attaching itself to a rock and becoming stationary, forming an anemone-like organism. This has been used as evidence that the purpose of brain and nervous tissue is to produce movement. Self-cannibalism behavior has been documented in North American rat snakes: one captive snake attempted to consume itself twice, dying in the second attempt.
Another wild rat snake was found having swallowed about two-thirds of its body. Erysichthon from Greek mythology ate himself in insatiable hunger given him, as a punishment, by Demeter. In an Arthurian tale, King Agrestes of Camelot goes mad after massacring the Christian disciples of Josephus within his city, eats his own hands. Stephen King's short story "Survivor Type", about a man trapped on a small island. In the novel Hannibal, Hannibal Lecter recalls psychologically manipulating Mason Verger into eating his own nose and feeding his face to his dog. Lecter feeds Paul Krendler part of his own brain. In the Hannibal television series, Lecter's manipulation of Verger and Verger's self-cannibalism are depicted onscreen. Lecter amputates all of Abel Gideon's limbs and feeds portions of them to Gideon over the course of several meals. Autopsy's song "Severed Survival" is about resorting to self-cannibalism after being stranded on a barren island; the Rammstein song "Mein Teil" tells the story of a man having a body part cut off, which he cooks and eats as part of a candlelight dinner.
The short story "The Savage Mouth" by Japanese science fiction writer Sakyo Komatsu deals with self-cannibalism. In the Japanese horror movie Naked Blood, a woman eats herself with a knife and fork, after taking pain dulling drugs. Banica Conchita from the Evillious Chronicles series eats herself in the music video Evil Food Eater Conchita after she develops a'taste' for the servants and chef. In Norse mythology, the World Serpent Jörmungandr is said to be biting its own tail, surrounding the world; the December 31, 2011 guest comic for the comic strip Bizarro featured a man about to eat a hand sandwich. It is titled "Radical Locavore". Self-cannibalism is the base of the plot of a science fiction horror short story The Boneless One by Alec Nevala-Lee, in "The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Ninth Annual Collection". In the Mel Brooks parodic film Spaceballs, the character Pizza the Hutt is said to have eaten himself "to death" after getting locked in his car. In George R. R. Martin's novel A Clash of Kings, following her forced marriage to Ramsay Snow and being locked away, Lady Hornwood is found dead of hunger after eating her own fingers.
In the horror novel Ritual by Graham Masterton, an exclusive dining club exists wherein the members remove and cook their own body parts before eating them. In the manga series One Piece, after being stranded on an island, Zeff ate his own severed leg to avoid starving to death. In the show Firefly, Reavers eat themselves, as well as doing numerous other extreme body modifications. In the game The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, a sickness called Corprus causes some victims' bodies to grow tumorous tissue on the extremities, which they cut off and consume. Found pieces called. A 2017 Treehouse of Horror episode features Homer's addiction to eating himself. In Treehouse of Horror XX, Ralph Wiggum is shown eating himself, although he was a zombie until the segment ended. In J. R. R. Tolkien's epic, The Silmarillion the character Ungoliant, an evil spirit in the form of a giant spider, is said to have consumed herself due to her unremitting hunger. In Slipknot's music video for The Devil in I, Sid Wilson is shown eating his arm.
In Antichrist, a talking fox is shown eating its intestines. Vorarephilia Ouroboros, a depiction of a snake swallowing itself Eating mucus Lesch–Nyhan syndrome Placentophagy
Osiris is the god of the afterlife, the underworld, rebirth in ancient Egyptian religion. He was classically depicted as a green-skinned deity with a pharaoh's beard mummy-wrapped at the legs, wearing a distinctive atef crown, holding a symbolic crook and flail. Osiris was at times considered the eldest son of the god Geb and the sky goddess Nut, as well as being brother and husband of Isis, with Horus being considered his posthumously begotten son, he was associated with the epithet Khenti-Amentiu, meaning "Foremost of the Westerners", a reference to his kingship in the land of the dead. As ruler of the dead, Osiris was sometimes called "king of the living": ancient Egyptians considered the blessed dead "the living ones". Through syncretism with Iah, he is the god of the Moon. Osiris was considered the brother of Isis, Set and Horus the Elder, father of Horus the Younger; the first evidence of the worship of Osiris was found in the middle of the Fifth dynasty of Egypt, although it is that he was worshiped much earlier.
Most information available on the myths of Osiris is derived from allusions contained in the Pyramid Texts at the end of the Fifth Dynasty New Kingdom source documents such as the Shabaka Stone and the Contending of Horus and Seth, much in narrative style from the writings of Greek authors including Plutarch and Diodorus Siculus. Osiris was the judge of the dead and the underworld agency that granted all life, including sprouting vegetation and the fertile flooding of the Nile River, he was described as "He Who is Permanently Benign and Youthful" and the "Lord of Silence". The Kings of Egypt were associated with Osiris in death – as Osiris rose from the dead so would they in union with him, inherit eternal life through a process of imitative magic. Through the hope of new life after death, Osiris began to be associated with the cycles observed in nature, in particular vegetation and the annual flooding of the Nile, through his links with the heliacal rising of Orion and Sirius at the start of the new year.
Osiris was worshipped until the decline of ancient Egyptian religion during the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Osiris is a Latin transliteration of the Ancient Greek Ὄσιρις IPA:, which in turn is the Greek adaptation of the original name in the Egyptian language. In Egyptian hieroglyphs the name appears as wsjr, which some Egyptologists instead choose to transliterate ꜣsjr or jsjrj. Since hieroglyphic writing lacks vowels, Egyptologists have vocalized the name in various ways, such as Asar, Ausir, Usir, or Usire. Several proposals have been made for the meaning of the original name. Most take wsjr as the accepted transliteration, following Adolf Erman: John Gwyn Griffiths, "bearing in mind Erman's emphasis on the fact that the name must begin with an w", proposes a derivation from wsr with an original meaning of "The Mighty One". Moreover, one of the oldest attestations of the god Osiris appears in the mastaba of the deceased Netjer-wser. Kurt Sethe proposes a compound st-jrt, meaning "seat of the eye", in a hypothetical earlier form *wst-jrt.
David Lorton takes up this same compound but explains st-jrt as signifying "product, something made", Osiris representing the product of the ritual mummification process. Wolfhart Westendorf proposes an etymology from wꜣst-jrt "she who bears the eye". Mark J. Smith makes no definitive proposals but asserts that the second element must be a form of jrj; however alternative transliterations have been proposed: Yoshi Muchiki reexamines Erman's evidence that the throne hieroglyph in the word is to be read ws and finds it unconvincing, suggesting instead that the name should be read ꜣsjr on the basis of Aramaic and Old South Arabian transcriptions, readings of the throne sign in other words, comparison with ꜣst. James P. Allen reads the word as jsjrt but revises the reading to jsjrj and derives it from js-jrj, meaning "engendering principle". Osiris is represented in his most developed form of iconography wearing the Atef crown, similar to the White crown of Upper Egypt, but with the addition of two curling ostrich feathers at each side.
He carries the crook and flail. The crook is thought to represent Osiris as a shepherd god; the symbolism of the flail is more uncertain with shepherds whip, fly-whisk, or association with the god Andjety of the ninth nome of Lower Egypt proposed. He was depicted as a pharaoh with a complexion of either green or black in mummiform; the Pyramid Texts describe early conceptions of an afterlife in terms of eternal travelling with the sun god amongst the stars. Amongst these mortuary texts, at the beginning of the 4th dynasty, is found: "An offering the king gives and Anubis". By the end of the 5th dynasty, the formula in all tombs becomes "An offering the king gives and Osiris". Osiris is the mythological father of the god Horus, whose conception is described in the Osiris myth; the myth describes Osiris as having been killed by his brother, Set
Ancient Egyptian deities
Ancient Egyptian deities are the gods and goddesses worshipped in ancient Egypt. The beliefs and rituals surrounding these gods formed the core of ancient Egyptian religion, which emerged sometime in prehistory. Deities represented natural forces and phenomena, the Egyptians supported and appeased them through offerings and rituals so that these forces would continue to function according to maat, or divine order. After the founding of the Egyptian state around 3100 BC, the authority to perform these tasks was controlled by the pharaoh, who claimed to be the gods' representative and managed the temples where the rituals were carried out; the gods' complex characteristics were expressed in myths and in intricate relationships between deities: family ties, loose groups and hierarchies, combinations of separate gods into one. Deities' diverse appearances in art—as animals, humans and combinations of different forms—also alluded, through symbolism, to their essential features. In different eras, various gods were said to hold the highest position in divine society, including the solar deity Ra, the mysterious god Amun, the mother goddess Isis.
The highest deity was credited with the creation of the world and connected with the life-giving power of the sun. Some scholars have argued, based in part on Egyptian writings, that the Egyptians came to recognize a single divine power that lay behind all things and was present in all the other deities, yet they never abandoned their original polytheistic view of the world, except during the era of Atenism in the 14th century BC, when official religion focused on the impersonal sun god Aten. Gods were assumed to be present throughout the world, capable of influencing natural events and the course of human lives. People interacted with them in temples and unofficial shrines, for personal reasons as well as for larger goals of state rites. Egyptians prayed for divine help, used rituals to compel deities to act, called upon them for advice. Humans' relations with their gods were a fundamental part of Egyptian society; the beings in ancient Egyptian tradition who might be labeled as deities are difficult to count.
Egyptian texts list the names of many deities whose nature is unknown and make vague, indirect references to other gods who are not named. The Egyptologist James P. Allen estimates that more than 1,400 deities are named in Egyptian texts, whereas his colleague Christian Leitz says there are "thousands upon thousands" of gods; the Egyptian language's terms for these beings were nṯr, "god", its feminine form nṯrt, "goddess". Scholars have tried to discern the original nature of the gods by proposing etymologies for these words, but none of these suggestions has gained acceptance, the terms' origin remains obscure; the hieroglyphs that were used as ideograms and determinatives in writing these words show some of the traits that the Egyptians connected with divinity. The most common of these signs is a flag flying from a pole. Similar objects were placed at the entrances of temples, representing the presence of a deity, throughout ancient Egyptian history. Other such hieroglyphs include a falcon, reminiscent of several early gods who were depicted as falcons, a seated male or female deity.
The feminine form could be written with an egg as determinative, connecting goddesses with creation and birth, or with a cobra, reflecting the use of the cobra to depict many female deities. The Egyptians distinguished nṯrw, "gods", from rmṯ, "people", but the meanings of the Egyptian and the English terms do not match perfectly; the term nṯr may have applied to any being, in some way outside the sphere of everyday life. Deceased humans were called nṯr because they were considered to be like the gods, whereas the term was applied to many of Egypt's lesser supernatural beings, which modern scholars call "demons". Egyptian religious art depicts places and concepts in human form; these personified ideas range from deities that were important in myth and ritual to obscure beings, only mentioned once or twice, that may be little more than metaphors. Confronting these blurred distinctions between gods and other beings, scholars have proposed various definitions of a "deity". One accepted definition, suggested by Jan Assmann, says that a deity has a cult, is involved in some aspect of the universe, is described in mythology or other forms of written tradition.
According to a different definition, by Dimitri Meeks, nṯr applied to any being, the focus of ritual. From this perspective, "gods" included the king, called a god after his coronation rites, deceased souls, who entered the divine realm through funeral ceremonies; the preeminence of the great gods was maintained by the ritual devotion, performed for them across Egypt. The first written evidence of deities in Egypt comes from the Early Dynastic Period. Deities must have emerged sometime in the preceding Predynastic Period and grown out of prehistoric religious beliefs. Predynastic artwork depicts a variety of human figures; some of these images, such as stars and cattle, are reminiscent of important features of Egyptian religion in times, but in most cases there is not enough evidence to say whether the images are connected with deities. As Egyptian society grew more sophisticated, clearer signs of religious activity appeared; the earliest known temples appeared in the last centuries of the predynastic era, along with images that resemble the iconographies of known deities: the falcon that represents Horus and several other gods, the crossed arrows that stand for Neith, the enigmatic "Set animal" that represents Set.
Many Egyptologists and anthropologists have suggested theories about how the gods
European dragons are legendary creatures in folklore and mythology among the overlapping cultures of Europe. The Roman poet Virgil in his poem Culex lines 163-201, describing a shepherd having a fight with a big constricting snake, calls it "serpens" and "draco", showing that in his time the two words were interchangeable. In and after the early Middle Ages, the European dragon is depicted as a large, fire-breathing, horned, lizard-like creature; some depictions show dragons with one or more of: feathered wings, ear frills, fiery manes, ivory spikes running down its spine, various exotic decorations. In folktales, dragon's blood contains unique powers, keeping them alive for longer or giving them poisonous or acidic properties; the typical dragon in Christian culture protects a castle filled with gold and treasure. An evil dragon is associated with a great hero who tries to slay it, a good one is said to give support or wise advice. Though a winged creature, the dragon is to be found in its underground lair, a cave that identifies it as an ancient creature of earth.
English "dragon" derives from Ancient Greek δράκων drákōn, "serpent, dragon" related to δέρκομαι, "I see". The Greek word derives from an Aryan base derk- meaning "to see" and the Sanskrit dŗç- signifying "to see". Notwithstanding their folkloric associations, there is no etymological connection between dragons and the ghoulish figures known as draugar in Old Norse, who haunt rich burial mounds. Roman dragons developed from serpentine Greek ones, combined with the dragons of the Near East, in the context of the hybrid Greek/Eastern Hellenistic culture. From Babylon, the muš-ḫuššu was a classic representation of a Near Eastern dragon. St John's Book of Revelation—Greek literature, not Roman—describes Satan as "a great dragon, flaming red, with seven heads and ten horns". Much of St John's literary inspiration is late Hebrew and Greek, but his dragon is more to have symbolized the dragons from the Near East. In the Roman Empire, each military cohort had a particular identifying signum. With the jaws facing into the wind, the silken body rippled, resembling a windsock.
Several personifications of evil or allusions to dragons in the Old Testament are translated as forms of draco in Jerome's Vulgate. E.g. Deuteronomy, Psalms, Isaiah and Malachi. Dragons in Greek mythology guard treasure. For example Ladon, a hundred-headed dragon, guarded the tree of Herodias until he was slain by Heracles. Python guarded the oracle of Delphi until he was slain by Apollo out of revenge for Python tormenting his mother; the Lernaean Hydra, a multiple-headed serpentine swamp monster killed by Heracles, is said to be a dragon. The Roman poet Virgil in his poem Culex lines 163-201, describing a shepherd having a fight with a big constricting snake, calls it "serpens" and "draco", showing that in his time the two words were interchangeable. Classical European dragons are described as illuminating the air; this is taken by Christian writers as a metaphor for Lucifer, whose name means "bearer of light". During the early Middle Ages, European culture was out of contact with classical literature for centuries.
During this time there was a gradual change in the usual mental image of the "dragon", i.e. the Latin draco and its equivalents in vernacular languages, which occurred in oral and written literature, including in classical literature. This led to the depiction in this literature of "modern-type" dragons, whose features are described below; the modern western image of a dragon developed in western Europe during the Middle Ages through the combination of the snakelike dragons of classical Graeco-Roman literature, references to Near Eastern European dragons preserved in the Bible, western European folk traditions. The period between the 11th and 13th centuries represents the height of European interest in dragons as living creatures. Dragons are shown in modern times with a body more like a huge lizard, or a snake with two pairs of lizard-type legs, breathing fire from their mouths; this traces back to the continental dragon referred to as a fire-breathing dragon. The continental, like many other European dragons, has bat-like wings growing from its back.
The Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf refers to a dragon as a draca and as a wyrm. Its movements are denoted by the Anglo-Saxon verb bugan, "to bend", it is said to have a venomous bite, poisonous breath; the Ramsund carving from Viking-age Sweden, around 1030, depicts events related in the Old Norse Völsunga saga about the hero Sigurd. It shows the dragon Fafnir as a big and long wingless snake, drawn rather fancifully, surrounding the scene; the oldest recognizable image of a "modern-style" western dragon appears in a hand-painted illustration from the bestiary MS
The philosopher's stone, or stone of the philosophers is a legendary alchemical substance capable of turning base metals such as mercury into gold or silver. It is called the elixir of life, useful for rejuvenation and for achieving immortality; the philosopher's stone was the central symbol of the mystical terminology of alchemy, symbolizing perfection at its finest and heavenly bliss. Efforts to discover the philosopher's stone were known as the Magnum Opus. Mention of the philosopher's stone in writing can be found as far back as Cheirokmeta by Zosimos of Panopolis. Alchemical writers assign a longer history. Elias Ashmole and the anonymous author of Gloria Mundi claim that its history goes back to Adam who acquired the knowledge of the stone directly from God; this knowledge was said to be passed down through biblical patriarchs. The legend of the stone was compared to the biblical history of the Temple of Solomon and the rejected cornerstone described in Psalm 118; the theoretical roots outlining the stone’s creation can be traced to Greek philosophy.
Alchemists used the classical elements, the concept of anima mundi, Creation stories presented in texts like Plato's Timaeus as analogies for their process. According to Plato, the four elements are derived from a common source or prima materia, associated with chaos. Prima materia is the name alchemists assign to the starting ingredient for the creation of the philosopher's stone; the importance of this philosophical first matter persisted throughout the history of alchemy. In the seventeenth century, Thomas Vaughan writes, "the first matter of the stone is the same with the first matter of all things". Early medieval alchemists built upon the work of Zosimos in the Byzantine Empire and the Arab empires. Byzantine and Arab alchemists were fascinated by the concept of metal transmutation and attempted to carry out the process; the 8th-century Muslim alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan analyzed each classical element in terms of the four basic qualities. Fire was both hot and dry, earth cold and dry, water cold and moist, air hot and moist.
He theorized that every metal was a combination of these four principles, two of them interior and two exterior. From this premise, it was reasoned that the transmutation of one metal into another could be affected by the rearrangement of its basic qualities; this change would be mediated by a substance, which came to be called xerion in Greek and al-iksir in Arabic. It was considered to exist as a dry red powder made from a legendary stone—the philosopher's stone; the elixir powder came to be regarded as a crucial component of transmutation by Arab alchemists. In the 11th century, there was a debate among Muslim world chemists on whether the transmutation of substances was possible. A leading opponent was the Persian polymath Avicenna, who discredited the theory of transmutation of substances, stating, "Those of the chemical craft know well that no change can be effected in the different species of substances, though they can produce the appearance of such change."According to legend, the 13th-century scientist and philosopher Albertus Magnus is said to have discovered the philosopher's stone.
Magnus does not confirm he discovered the stone in his writings, but he did record that he witnessed the creation of gold by "transmutation". The 16th-century Swiss alchemist Paracelsus believed in the existence of alkahest, which he thought to be an undiscovered element from which all other elements were derivative forms. Paracelsus believed; the English philosopher Sir Thomas Browne in his spiritual testament Religio Medici identified the religious aspect of the quest for the philosopher's Stone when declaring: The smattering I have of the Philosophers stone, hath taught me a great deale of Divinity. A mystical text published in the 17th century called the Mutus Liber appears to be a symbolic instruction manual for concocting a philosopher's stone. Called the "wordless book", it was a collection of 15 illustrations; the equivalent of the philosopher's stone in Buddhism and Hinduism is the Cintamani. It is referred to as Paras/Parasmani or Paris. In Mahayana Buddhism, Chintamani is held by the bodhisattvas and Ksitigarbha.
It is seen carried upon the back of the Lung ta, depicted on Tibetan prayer flags. By reciting the Dharani of Chintamani, Buddhist tradition maintains that one attains the Wisdom of Buddhas, is able to understand the truth of the Buddhas, turns afflictions into Bodhi, it is said to allow one to see the Holy Retinue of his assembly upon one's deathbed. In Tibetan Buddhist tradition the Chintamani is sometimes depicted as a luminous pearl and is in the possession of several of different forms of the Buddha. Within Hinduism it is connected with the gods Ganesha. In Hindu tradition it is depicted as a fabulous jewel in the possession of the Nāga king or as on the forehead of the Makara; the Yoga Vasistha written in the 10th century AD, contains a story about the philosopher's stone. A great Hindu sage wrote about the spiritual accomplishment of Gnosis using the metaphor of the philosopher's stone. Saint Jnaneshwar wrote a commentar