"I felt as one round whose body a deadly snake is twisted"

Despite the relatively small risk they pose to humans, snakes have long been regarded as an object of fear. The majority of species are non-venomous. Those that don’t simply swallow their prey whole kill it by constriction, wrapping their bodies in tight coils until the animal is asphyxiated. The snake also has biblical connotations: the devil takes on the form of this beast in his temptation of Eve. On this level, he represents a spiritual as much as a physical threat.

 

Illustration for Paradise Lost, 1808
Public DomainIllustration for Paradise Lost, 1808 - Credit: William Blake