"Thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns:" The Biblical Unicorn in Late Medieval Religious Interpretation
Karel Appel, 'Femmes, enfants, animaux,' 1951: oil on jute, 170 x 280 cm © Cobra Museum voor Moderne Kunst Amstelveen


Allegorical Hunt of the Unicorn
Beschlossen gart des Rosenkrantz Marie
Human-Animal Relationships

How to Cite

Weitbrecht, J. (2018). "Thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns:" The Biblical Unicorn in Late Medieval Religious Interpretation. Interfaces: A Journal of Medieval European Literatures, (5), 49–64. https://doi.org/10.13130/interfaces-05-05
Received 2018-02-17
Accepted 2019-01-28
Published 2018-12-29


This article investigates the 'allegorical hunt of the unicorn' in late medieval visual and narrative art. The existence of the unicorn in biblical lore is an important factor in how the unicorn has been integrated into Christian symbolism. By expanding the narrative connection between hunting, virginity, and taming provided by Physiologus, the allegorical interpretations turn the taming of the wild unicorn into signifying the incarnation of Christ. This influential interpretation enables an overlaying of allegorical meanings in various media. In this process, knowledge is organized into clusters of meaning in which the creature functions as a dynamic reservoir of knowledge. This perspective allows for a deeper understanding of the functions of animals (or more specifically, human-animal relations) in medieval Christian interpretation.


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