Amphisbaena | Serpent

Amphisbaena Greek Mythology

Amphisbaena (Plural: Amphisbena), Amphisbenia, Amphibenium, Amphisboena, Amphisbaena, Amphista, Amphivena, a Greek word meaning "that goes in two directions", from (amphis), meaning "both ways", and (bainein), meaning "to go", also called the Mother of Ants, is a mythological, ant-eating serpent with a head on each end.

According to Greek mythology, the Amphisbaenian was born from the blood that dripped from the head of the Gorgon Medusa when Perseus flew over the Libyan Desert with her in his hands. It was then that Cato's army encountered it along with other serpents on their march. The Amphisbaenian fed on the corpses left behind.

She has been quoted by poets, such as Nicander of Cophon, John Milton, Alexander Pope, Alfred Tennyson, and Alfred Edward Housman, and the Amphisbaenian as a mythological and legendary creation have been cited by Lucanus, Gaius Pliny the Second, Isidore of Seville, and Thomas Browne, the last of whom disillusioned her existence.


" The Amphisbaena has a double head, one that is at the end of the tail, well, as if it wasn't enough to be poisoned by a mouth."
--Caio Pliny the Second. Naturalis Historia, ca. 77 AD

This recent description of Amphisbaenus presents a two-headed, venomous snake-like creature. However, Medieval and later drawings often show her with two or more scaly feet, particularly chicken feet and feathered wings.

Some even depict it as a horned, dragon-like creature with a serpent-headed tail and small, round ears, while others have both "necks" the same size so that it cannot be distinguished which is the rear head.

Many accounts of the Amphisbaenian say that her eyes glow like candlelight or lightning, but the poet Nicander seems to contradict this by describing her as "always dull-eyed". He also says that "from one end to the other protrudes a blunted chin; each is distant from each other." Nicander's account of Cophon seems to be referring to what is in fact called Amphisbaena.


The Amphisbaenian makes its dwelling in deserts.


Poison canines
Eye contact kills immediately when in full moon.


In The Book of Beasts, T.H. White suggests that the creature comes from findings of Ubijaras of the same name. These creatures are found in the Mediterranean countries, where many of these legends originated.