Variations: Aeternae, Analopos, Antalope, Antholops, Aptaleon, Aptolos, Pantolops; Jachamur, Jachmur, Jamur, Yamur (Bochart); Chatloup (erroneously)
The antelope was known to the Greeks as Analopos (and variations thereof, derived from the Coptic Pantolops according to Bochart) and to the Romans as Calopus, “pretty foot” . These creatures were believed to inhabit India, Syria, and the Euphrates basin, and were fond of drinking the cool Euphrates water.
A calopus resembled a roe deer in appearance and size, with the exception of large saw-toothed horns growing out of their heads. These horns can be used to shred branches and human limbs alike, but are also easily entangled in thickets. A calopus trapped in this way will cry out, making it easily found and killed by hunters.
Alexander the Great encountered a number of these antelopes in India, where at least one obscure account refers to them as “aeternae”. The creatures pierced the Macedonian shields with their horns, but they were no match for Alexander’s soldiers, who slew anywhere from five thousand and four hundred to eight thousand five hundred and fifty of them. This, Topsell concludes, is the reason why we barely see any more of these animals.
Possible identities for the calopus include a number of antelopes, but also the moose, whose tree-shredding behavior may have inspired the calopus’ serrated weapons.
The “chatloup” (“catwolf”) name popularized by Barber and Rose appears to be a corruption of calopus.
Barber, R. and Riches, A. (1971) A Dictionary of Fabulous Beasts. The Boydell Press, Ipswich.
Bochart, S. (1675) Hierozoicon. Johannis Davidis Zunneri, Frankfurt.
Cuba, J. (1539) Le iardin de santé. Philippe le Noir, Paris.
Rose, C. (2000) Giants, Monsters, and Dragons. W. W. Norton and Co., New York.
Topsell, E. (1658) The History of Four-footed Beasts. E. Cotes, London.
de Xivrey, J. B. (1836) Traditions Tératologiques. L’Imprimerie Royale, Paris.