How Did The Romans View Unicorns & Unicorn Symbolism?

Unicorn symbolism was not only present, but emphasized in many ancient cultures. 

Unfortunately, the Romans were not exactly the best stewards in sharing accurate information about unicorns and their symbolism. 

Because of some distortions in knowledge, the Romans had some...interesting...takes on the unicorn. Here are four of them: 

Pliny The Elder: The Biggest Misunderstanding of Unicorn Symbolism Ever?

Pliny the Elder was a military commander, author, and philosopher.

Despite his impressive credentials, he was clearly *not* an expert on unicorns.

He believed that unicorns were dangerous and fierce. Additionally, he minimized the spiritual and healing aspects that have always been attributed to unicorns.

Would he buy one of our shirts? Probably not. Oh well. We know our clothes aren't for everyone. :) 

A photo of a mother and daughter wearing matching Real Unicorn Apparel t-shirts infused with unicorn symbolism

Aelian: A Scientific Understanding of Unicorns

A few centuries after Pliny the Elder had kicked the bucket, a new noteworthy Roman took up the mantle of disseminating knowledge about unicorn symbolism to his compatriots. 

While Aelian believed the unicorn's horn had medicinal benefits, he did get lost in the weeds. Rather than focusing on the spiritual symbolism of unicorns, Aelian gave it the same treatment as any ordinary terrestrial animal, placing heavy emphasis on its physical features. 

How's that for a misread?

If anything, unicorn symbolism tells us to follow our heart, not our head. Our mind usually gets us into trouble. Our heart is a far better leader. That's the way of the unicorn, for all brave enough to follow its lead.

A unicorn standing next to a Roman emperor in all his garb, both by the Colosseum.

Julius Caesar: A Supernatural Encounter with the Unicorn

Did you know that Julius Caesar, leader of the Roman Republic, actually saw a unicorn live and in the flesh.

And, of all places, it was during a military expedition in Germany. 

Yep, that happened; and if you don't believe us, find yourself a copy of Julius Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War and believe your own eyes instead of our words.

Oppian: A Greco-Roman Poet Weighs In

If you read our last post on the unicorn in ancient Greece, then you know that the ancient Greeks had a better understanding than their neighbors across the Adriatic. 

Oppian believed that unicorns were native to Aonia, a province in Greece. 

Well, it makes sense to us. If the Greeks "got" the unicorn more than the Romans, why not go where you're understood, right?

Naturally, there's a lot more to unicorn symbolism than can be covered in a fun, little post like this one.

A promotional poster from O-Books for The Book of the Magical Mythical Unicorn

So if you'd like to learn more about the unicorn in ancient Rome and in a variety of other cultures, consider purchasing The Book of the Magical Mythical Unicorn, and thanks! :) 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published