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Salamanders (Was: Gnomes)

From:Tim May <butsuri@...>
Date:Thursday, July 14, 2005, 14:14
Steg Belsky wrote at 2005-07-14 01:00:40 (-0400)
 > On Jul 12, 2005, at 1:48 AM, Ray Brown wrote:
 > > He wanted names for the spirits of each of the 'four elements':
 > > salamanders - spirits of fire
 > > The name 'salamander' is ultimately from Greek _salamandra_, a kind of
 > > newt (Salamandra vulgaris). It was supposed by both the ancient Greeks
 > > and the Romams to be able to withstand fire, being able to quench the
 > > fire by the chill of its body. Reference to this belief may be found
 > > in Aristotle and Pliny and several other authors. Many of the
 > > medievals seem to have believed the creature actually lived in fire &
 > > Paracelsus simply adopted the word for his elemental spirits of fire.
 > Some real-life salamanders, at least, seem to be able to withstand fire
 > for short periods by secreting some kind of bodily fluid.

Can you provide a reference for this?  All my sources say it's a myth,
perhaps resulting from salamanders hibernating amongst logs which were
then burned.

(Incidentally, I've read that Pliny the Elder tested the salamander's
ability to withstand fire, and recorded that it was burnt; however, I
don't find any mention of this in the translation of the _Natural
History_ online here:
Salamanders are mentioned twice, in one case affirming their ability
to extinguish fires, in the other skeptical, but no experiment by
Pliny is mentioned.)


Joseph Bridwell <darkmoonman@...>