A history of caricature and grotesque in literature and art, ch. IEdit

English originalEdit

Thomas Wright History of Caricature Lion & Unicorn

Our third subject from the Egyptian papyrus of the British Museum (No. 6) represents a scene in which the game of draughts—or, more properly speaking, the game which the Romans called the ludus latrunculorum, and which is believed to have resembled our draughts—is played by two animals well known to modern heraldry, the lion and the unicorn. The lion has evidently gained victory, and is fingering the money; and his bold air of swaggering superiority, as well as the look of surprise and disappointment of his vanquished opponent, are by no means ill pictured. This series of caricatures, though Egyptian, belongs to the Roman period.


There is no reason to believe that the animal to the left is anything more than a gazelle drawn from profile. The curved horn certainly resembles one possessed by that creature more than the horn of a unicorn, which is normally portrayed as being straight (vide: Cosmas Indicopleustes).


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