In Africa the chief centre of serpent worship was Dahomey; but the cult of the python seems to have been of exotic origin, dating back to the first quarter of the 17th century.
Speaking animals are a common feature of folk-lore; the only other case in the Old Testament is the serpent in Eden.
In Egyptian mythology the serpent Apap with an army of monsters strives daily to arrest the course of the boat of the luminous gods.
It was particularly offensive to Christians as tending to dishonour the Creator who is set over against the serpent as bad against good.
Weir Mitchell and others have shown that serpent venom consists chiefly of albumoses, and the toxins formed by infective bacilli have a somewhat similar chemical nature.
Three monuments remain to mark the line of the Spina, around which the chariots whirled; an Egyptian obelisk of Thothmes III., on a pedestal covered with bas-reliefs representing Theodosius I., the empress Galla, and his sons Arcadius and Honorius, presiding at scenes in the Hippodrome; the triple serpent column, which stood originally at Delphi, to commemorate the victory of Plataea 479 B.C.; a lofty pile of masonry, built in the form of an obelisk, and once covered with plates of gilded bronze.
For the serpent (sometimes with anthropomorphic hints) in the Tabellae devotionis, see R.
On the traces of dragon and serpent myths in the Old Testament and their significance, see Gunkel, Schopfung and Chaos (1895) - a pioneering work of the highest merit - and Ency.
The largest of the serpent tribe, however, is the python (Hortulia natalensis), called inhlwati by the natives; its usual haunts are by streams amongst rocky boulders and in jungles, and instances are recorded of its strangling See R.
Even Moses himself is said to have made a brazen serpent which, down to Hezekiah's time, continued to be worshipped at Jerusalem.