The language and characters intertwined with the fantasy world we have imagined has come as second nature for those of us who read stories of magic. Listed below are the magical creatures and the first time they made an appearance in literature.
The first wizard who appeared in a work of literature was Myrddin, or Merlin Ambrosius, or better known as Merlin from the King Arthur legend. However, before he was known as Merlin, he was an elderly male prophet written about in the 6th Century, according to the bbc.co.uk. The article continues by saying he ran off to Scotland after a battle, seeking shelter in the forest. There, legend has it he developed magical powers.
According to an article by timelessmyths.com, it states Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote about Merlin in his theoretical book entitled The Historia Regum Britanniae. The story of Merlin began when the King Vorigern was building a wall to his fortress that continued to fall apart. He was told he needed the blood of a fatherless boy. Merlin was chosen and was to be killed afterwards. However, Merlin informed the King his wall was crumbling because of the two dragons fighting below it continues timelessmyths.com.
Monmouth claims Merlin was first acknowledged as a wizard after informing Uther to arrange for Stonehenge to be built to fight the Sextons. It is said Merlin had moved the rocks and reformed Uther's face to look like Igraine, the wife of Duke Gorlois. From then onward, legends of magic intertwined with Merlin evolved.
These little creatures were first created in J.R.R. Tolkien's series Lord of The Rings. While Tolkien himself invented the creatures, he put together the word through the use of entomology. He used the word hob, which means little man, and joined it with holbytla, which means to build a hole. Crafted by Tolkien for his series, the lead character, Frodo, a hobbit, becomes the ring-bearer who must destroy evil to put an end to the curse of the ring.
The poem Volundarkvitha, taken from the series of poems from Poetic Edda, introduces elves into literature. This poem originates from Norse mythology. The character Volundr, the 'Ruler of Elves,' and, 'King of Elvs,' is one of three sons and is married; his wife leaves him after thirteen years. He is stolen away by a king in Sweden and sent to work for him. However, he grows angry and kills the king's sons in revenge. He has also impregnated the king's daughter, who is a queen.
In stanza thirteen, the queen makes reference to Volundr.
The glow of his eyes is like gleaming snakes,
His teeth he gnashes if now is shown
According to the Oxford Dictionary, these creatures are defined as a race of "small childlike creatures." They first appeared in L. Frank Baum's 1990 novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz where they lived in the Munchkin County. According to halcyon.com, when Henry M. Littlefield published a piece in American Quarterly called, "The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism," the munchkins were described as the people controlled by the, "industrialists and bankers," or in the case of the novel, the Wicked Witch of the East. The root of the name is still hypothesized, but researcher Brian Attebery has a few ideas.
Attebery believed the root of the word munchkin could have derived from the word, "muncitor," which means laborer in Romanian. As Baum was making a statement about social welfare (see above), this drawing fits the description well. When you break down the word "muncitor," it unravels to "Munci" meaning laboring and "itor" meaning where one is in their social class.
According to the article, "The Phoenix Through the Ages," the tale of the phoenix was first told in ancient Egypt and Arabia and thought to have come from the Egyptian's version of the Phoenix. The Egyptians version of the phoenix can be found in the Book of the Dead which sounds similar to the tale below. The article describes the first imagery of the phoenix. The bird-like creature lived for 500 years before it settled in Egypt from Arabia. The article continues that the phoenix gathered cinnamon twigs, and constructed itself a nest high above on the Temple of the Sun in Egypt. Because of the heat, the phoenix became engulfed in fire and died before it was reborn. Arising from the extinguished flames is a phoenix with all its years gone. With its wings back, it flies home to Arabia, thus renewing the cycle.
J.K. Rowling created these dark creatures. They are the epitome of depression for they are defined by hollowness, emptiness and numbness. They are seen in the Harry Potter series and eat off human happiness, thus causing misery around anyone coming close. They devour a person's soul and, after giving the person the kiss of death, they leave the human in a vegetable state. They are in alliance with the dark wizard Lord Voldemort, and also guard the wizard prison known as Azkaban, where the most evil wizards are sent. The only way to protect one self from the curse of the Demontors is by use of the Patronus Charm.
In the late 1490s, the alchemist mystic and physician named Paracelsus promoted the idea of sylphs, gnomes, fairies, and magical creatures. He called these creatures the Elements, claiming they were like that of the Earth, Air, Water and Fire. According to the article anglefocus.com, their souls and spirits were not exactly like humans. However, they do talk and sleep in a parallel way to human behavior.
They can move at a different speed. The sylphs are known as the air spirits who dwell on top of mountains. One of the most unusual qualities of these air spirits is to help people gain inspiration by their vibrations with the air.
According to the article jonggibbs.livejournal.com, the first time sylphs appeared in literature occurred in Rape of the Lock, by Alexander Pope. The vain women are conjured into sylphs because of the darkness swarming inside of them when Belinda's lock of hair is cut off and stolen. The darkness drags them away from the sky.
Written in 1000 A.D., Beowulf was the first piece of literature to use a dragon (outside of the Bible). In Beowulf, the dragon is said to represent man's inevitable fate to lose the fight with death in life at some point. The dragon may also be used to represent the dichotomy of Beowulf's goodness, maliciousness and evil within himself.
In the 12th century, Marie De France wrote the story of the werewolf entitled Bisclarvret. The story describes a man named Bisclarvret who is happily married, only he disappears three days a week to transform into a werewolf. The wife, thinking he is having an affair, coaxes the secret out of him. She learns that in order for him to return into a man, he must have his clothes (which he hides deep in the woods). Without his clothing, he would stay a werewolf forever. As his wife is sickened by his secret, she flees to the knight who loves her and tells him she will give him her body and love him under one condition--he wears her husband's clothes. He agrees. With Bisclarvret forever as a wolf, she marries the knight. Years later, Bisclarvret is found by the King as a charming wolf, and once brought into the castle, Bisclarvret tears apart the knight, then rips off his wife's nose. The great metaphor asks, who is really the beast--the wife or the werewolf husband?
Trolls can be traced back to Norse mythology. According to the website ccb.lis.illinois.edu, they came into this world by a frost giant named Ymir.
"His feet sprouted the race of trolls. Initially the trolls had six heads and six arms and quickly grew to a monstrous size. Ever since that time, Norway has been inhabited by these giants."
One of the oldest fairy tales revolving around trolls was in the collection Norske Folkeeventyr by Peter Christen Asbjornsen and Jorgen Moe. The popular fairy tale is called Three Billy Goats Gruff, and revolves around three goats that need to cross a bridge to get to the meadow where they can eat. Of course, there is a troll under the bridge and he lets the first two small goats pass. He hopes he can gobble the third goat for he is the fattest. However, the third goat strikes him down and the troll is never to be seen again.