Explainer: from bloodthirsty beast to saccharine symbol – the history and origins of the unicorn

The unicorn is an enduring image in contemporary society: a symbol of cuteness, magic, and children’s birthday parties.

But while you might dismiss this one-horned creature as just a product for Instagram celebrities and five-year-old girls, we can trace the lineage of the unicorn from the 4th century BCE. It evolved from a bloodthirsty monster, to a tranquil animal bringing peace and serenity (which can only be captured by virgins), to a symbol of God and Christ. TheConversation.com

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Unicorn
The Rochester Bestiary (c late 1200s) draws on Physiologus to represent the unicorn as the spirit of Jesus. Wikipedia Commons

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