Although a unicorn can technically be any one-horned animal, it is almost always that of a mythical, horse-like beast with a horn protruding from its forehead. They appear in Greek bestiaries, as well as several other mythologies.
Unicorns are said to have healing powers, and drinking the blood of one can keep you alive when you are sick. They are also believed to have other powers whicn they do with their horns, e.g spells and enchantments. Unicorns also live forever, or until killed. Unicorns horns can bring the dead back to life and clean polluted water.
The Bible contains references to unicorn-type creatures called Re'ems. They are physically described as wild beasts with one horn coming out of their head. They are supposedly untameable, strong, and agile, and are often used as examples of those characteristics. Re'ems are now identified with the aurochs and other bull-related species.
The Qilin is the unicorn of Chinese mythology. It is a hybrid species with the body of a deer, the head of a lion, green scale, a long upward curved horn coming out of the forehead. It is often used to symbolize wealth.
Medieval and Renaissance European
The unicorns of Medieval and Renaissance mythology is based on the Biblical version. It has one horn coming out of its forehead. It is usually described as a kind of donkey, horse, and/or goat. In Renaissance mythology and art, the unicorn is a horse with a narwhal-like horn coming out of its forehead. They are stronger, faster, smarter, and more viscous than any other kind of horse. However; they have a great love of fair maidens and virgins. If it sees one it becomes docile. This is why maidens were used as bait in attempted unicorn hunting. Unicorns were often shown with pure white or greyish-white coats
The word "alicorn" was first used in the Renaissance. It is the name the unicorn horn and the substance it is made of.
In Popular Culture
Since the Renaissance, unicorns have generally been considered horses with horns protruding from their foreheads. An exception to this is the unicorn from the video game "Ghosts and Goblins". These unicorns are gigantic troll-like creatures with armor, and short upward curved alicorns protruding from their foreheads.
The unicorn is famously used as the national animal of Scotland. To this extent, it is used as a supporter in the arms of Scotland and the UK.
The coat of arms of Nova Scotia acknowledges its historical connection with Scotland. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Clearances of the Scottish Highlands forced many Gaelic Scots to resettle, abandoning their ancestral lands. Many fled to what is now Nova Scotia, resulting in a large Gaelic-speaking community.
Unicorns in Films, Books or Comics
- Unicorns (My Little Pony)
- Phoebe and her Unicorn (Marigold Heavenly Nostrils)
- Harry Potter (Voldemort drinks the blood of a wild unicorn to stay alive)
- The Last Unicorn
- Narnia, the lion the witch and the wardrobe
- Nico the Unicorn (Nico)
- Black Moon
- Unicorns (American Dragon: Jake Long)