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Amphiptere, Amphithere, or Amphitere is a term used to describe a type of legless winged serpent found in European heraldry. It derives from the Jaculus, a fabulous snake that is said to guard Frankincense trees in Arabia.

Amphiptere

Quotes

  • Lucan [1st century CE] (Pharsalia, book 9, verse 848): "Swift Jaculus there...". (verse 962-966): "Upon branchless trunk a serpent, named / By Libyans Jaculus, rose in coils to dart / His venom from afar. Through Paullus' brain / It rushed, nor stayed; for in the wound itself / Was death...".
  • Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 8, 35): "The iaculus hurls itself from the branches of a tree, so that it is not only dangerous to the feet, but flies through the air like a missle from a catapult.
  • Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 4:29): The iaculus is a flying snake. They jump from trees and dart onto passing animals, from which they get their name, darter (iaculi).


Theories

In Madagascar, there is a snake called the fandrefiala which will fall tail first from a tree like a spear and stab animals the pass underneath according to the local legends.


See also

Quetzalcoatl is a winged serpent god in the legends of the Olmec, Mixtec, Toltec, and Aztec cultures.