Perytons are hybrids between a stag and a bird with green or blue plumage. They were invented by the author Jorge Luis Borges in The Book of Imaginary Beings, but are often misattributed to Roman folklore.
In their original description, they had the head (including antlers) and legs of a deer, but the rest of their body was that of an unspecified bird. They have either light blue or dark green feathers, possibly both. They cast shadows that resembled humans.
Modern depictions show them as any combination of deer and bird anatomy, but almost always with wings and antlers. They are usually green.
Perytons are thought to be incarnations of travelers who died far from their homes, and had fallen out of favor with their gods. Their human shadows are a reflection of their original bodies. They originally inhabited Atlantis, but after its destruction made their homes around the Mediterranean Sea.
They would fly in huge flocks to terrorize sailors and coastal cities, and would swoop down from great heights to gore them with their antlers. By killing one human, a peryton's shadow would change to reflect its physical form and it would be forgiven by its gods. After this, it would soar back into the sky, unable to kill again. The creatures were impervious to all weapons.
Allegedly, an oracle at Erythrae predicted that perytons would cause the fall of the Roman Empire. They were explicitly stated to be seen above the Pillars of Hercules and around Ravenna, and are said to have attacked the Roman general Scipio and his fleet on their way to conquer Carthage.
Anthropological information Edit
Jorge Luis Borges, an Argentine author, described these creatures in The Book of Imaginary Beings, citing a medieval manuscript that had been lost in a fire. His lack of evidence and the absence of any mention of them elsewhere suggests they may be his original creation, despite his insistence otherwise. While most of the rest of the beings described in the book are verifiable, he also appears to have fabricated the A Bao A Qu.
Despite this, perytons have taken on a life of their own in popular culture, and are often included in modern bestiaries.
In popular culture Edit
- Perytons have appeared in the tabletop game Dungeons and Dragons, and again in Pathfinder.
- A series of short, potentially extraterrestrial radio waves were named after these creatures, although they turned out to be the result of a local microwave oven.