Grim Reality – The Birth of a Two-Headed Calf

A good friend mailed me an article this morning about a two-headed calf that was born somewhere in Belgium, Europe. Even though we don’t see things like this happening everyday, it is not new. The first attestations of two-headed animals (and even humans) occur in Mesopotamian texts, written down on clay tablets, and throughout history malformities of this kind were almost always interpreted as bad omens.  

For example, in M. Jastrow’s Babylonian-Assyrian Birth-Omens we read that “testimony to the parallelism between Etruscan and Babylonian-Assyrian methods of divination in the case of birth-omens is born by an interesting passage in the Annals of Tacitus (XV, 47) that two-headed children or two-headed young of animals were interpreted by the Haruspices as pointing to an approaching change of dynasty and to the appearance of a weak ruler”, and from the editor of a medieval sourcebook, The Life of Charlemagne by Einhard, we learn that “the birth of a ‘monster’, such as a two-headed calf, could portend peril for an entire region”.

So I guess, even though I’m a quite skeptical guy, I’ll be watching the Belgian news a bit closer in the following days, just to see if maybe the king suddenly dies, the throne gets usurpated, the governement gets displaced by a military coup d’état, or Brussels gets blown up by a terrorist attack. Let’s consider it to be a testcase!

calf-two-headed

Links

Jastrow: http://www.archive.org/stream/babylonianassyri00jastrich/babylonianassyri00jastrich_djvu.txt
Einhard: http://books.google.com/books?id=0Y0NmDYFVBoC

PS: if you’re interested in seeing more “monsters”, I suggest you run a Youtube search on “two-headed”.

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