Before science fiction, people tended to fantasize about the future -- not unlike the way they imagined distant places, peopled by dog-headed Cynocephali
, surly one-eyed Cyclopes and one-legged Unipeds.
The text naturalizes foreign marvels, eschewing or reducing to hearsay the counterfactual ecstasies of other travel texts (which illuminators sometimes insert despite the absence of cynocephali
and their like in Marco Polo's Asia).
Werewolves even appeared among depictions of the monstrous races from Pliny's Natural History, such as pygmies, anthropophagi, cynocephali
, Arimaspians, Blemmyae, Essedones, and Hyperboreans in the German Esopi appologi siue mythologi cum quibusdam carminum etfabularum additionibus Sebastiani Brant, a collection whose second part gives a variety of fables, proverbs, riddles, and portents adapted from classical and folk sources, each with an accompanying woodcut (see Fig.
29), and the hairy faunos giants and cynocephali
('dog-headed men,' pp.
appellantureo quodcanina habeant, quosque ipse latratus magis bestias quam homines confiteur.
Itaque exeuntes inde, terram Chananaeorum ingressi sumus, qui ab aliis Cynocephali
dicuntur; et videntes illos, in aspectu eorum valde mirati sumus.
What distinguishes The Mythic Bestiary is that equal time is given not only to well-known fantasy monsters like the dragon, minotaur, phoenix, and so forth, but also many more obscure creatures of worldwide legends, from the winged shedu & lammasu spirits of ancient mesopotamia and persia, to the tupilak devil-dolls of the arctic circle, to the cynocephali
dog-headed people of medieval legend, and much more.
Interestingly, in the Middle Ages Saracens commenced to be visualized as cynocephali
in art, which confirmed their position of the monstrous other in the popular imagination (Strickland 2003: 160).
A Nation of Monsters: The West, Cynocephali
and Paradoxes of Language
Interest in dog-headed people or cynocephali
in general, and in Saint Christopher in particular, seems to have been expressed in Celtic countries throughout the medieval period (Orchard, 1995:15).
, or Dogheads, communicated only by barking.
70) To judge from both onomastics and geography, these are "our" people as opposed to the foreign AEtlas and Caelics, the exotic Glommas and Woingas and Hundingas (Dogmen, or Cynocephali
, apparently) that figure elsewhere in the poem.