Symbol of royalty, power.

The Roc is a large vulture-like bird that has appeared in literature from across Ancient lands. It is large enough to carry away an elephant and has the coloring of an Eagle. The wing-span measures are fifty to sixty feet long. The day would turn into the night when the Roc flew in the sky. Its great wings covered the sun while it flew. It had pointed teeth and a forked tongue. The Roc would fly high into the sky to let go of its large prey. The animal or man would be dashed on the rocks or ground and die so the Roc could then eat it. It was said that the Roc guarded a large collection of treasures that could only be found by going around the bird.

Roc Symbol
Roc Symbol

The Roc first appeared in written form in India around 59 BC. There were Sanskrit Epics that referred to the Roc.

Marco Polo claimed to have seen a Roc during the thirteenth century. He said it was larger than any other bird he had ever seen. Polo said the Roc would swoop down and pick up a larger baby elephant and then let it drop and die. The Roc would then feast on the remains of the elephant whenever it got hungry. Polo also said that the Roc was located in Madagascar. The Great Kahn sent people to look for the bird. They returned with what they thought was a very large feather that belonged to the Roc.

During the twelfth century the Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela who traveled Europe, Africa, and Asia told the story of shipwrecked sailors who were trying to escape the Roc. The sailors donned cow skin. They were able to get Gryphons to carry them away from the island thus avoiding the Roc.

During Sinbad’s second voyage in The Arabian Nights, the Roc was spotted on an island. In the fifth book, the Roc carried Sinbad to safety and placed him in its nest. Sinbad ate one of the Roc’s eggs. Sinbad then escaped the nest and found a boat to use to sail away from the island. In retaliation for eating its egg, the Roc dropped huge boulders onto the ship and destroyed the ship that Sinbad was sailing on.

Antonia Pigafetta was a sailing companion to Magellan. Magellan had circumnavigated the globe. According to Pigafetta the Roc was located in the China Sea.

The Kebra Nagast, an Ethiopian holy book, tells the story of the Roc bringing a piece of wood to Solomon. This wood became the cross on which Jesus was crucified. It also was used to complete Solomon’s temple. The wood was covered in silver rings and was used to help the Queen of Sheba turn her goat foot back into a human foot. The silver rings adorning the piece of wood were given to Judas for betraying Jesus.

In the sixteenth century, the poet Michel Drayton wrote a poem entitled The Roc where the Roc and other mythical creatures gained access to Noah’s ark.

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