Frogs in mythology are fairly commonplace. These poor creatures are often portrayed in fairy stories and folklore as clumsy, ugly beings but often with hidden talents.
In Medieval Europe, some religions, notably Catholicism, believed that frogs represented the Devil due to the fact that Witches used them as 'familiars'.
There are stories of frogs in mythology that tell us frogs and toads were poisonous and very bad luck if you happened to come across one in your day.
The Ancient Egyptians believed that a frog-headed goddess called Heket and her husband Khnum (who had a goat’s head) brought about the creation of man and other gods. In hieroglyphics Heket is depicted as a frog and the number 100,000 was symbolized by a tadpole. It is presumed this is because of the abundance of tadpoles at certain times of the year.
The most famous event though between man and frogs occurred around 1000 BC in the city of Rameses where according to the Bible, a plague of frogs was seen as the second in a chain of ten catastrophes that happened because of unprovoked bad behavior by the Pharaoh.
It is more than likely that this legend of frogs in mythology was based on a successful breeding season, resulting in extraordinary numbers of frogs spreading over the nearby countryside. It could well be that the consequent plagues of insects and disease may well have happened as a result of most of these poor creatures in the absence of adequate amounts of food, dying and decaying in the North African summer.
They were also represented in China and India, as they believed that the world rested on the back of a gigantic frog and that earthquakes were the result of his slightest movement. Other folklore of frogs in mythology has it that eclipses of the moon were due to a frog eating it.
In British folklore there are stories about how toads can foretell of illness and even death and so if one should come to your house it was considered very bad luck. There is a story of a young man who became ill and his friends were trying to help him. Toads came to the house and every time they came in his friends would throw them out. But nothing stopped the creatures coming and the friends didn't know what to do. Eventually these caring, concerned friends stripped a local tree bare of branches and leaves and hid their poor friend at the top of the tree, tied up in a bag, to hopefully keep him safe and away from the toads (!!). But no - the toads found him and ate him all up and all that was left was his skeleton! We hope that this is not fact but instead fiction! Sometimes fact and fiction get intertwined and create something of a nightmare story as is probably the case with this awful story.
The Maya Indians of Central America thought that the creature was a partner of the god Chac. Chac made the rains come and the frog Uo calls out to Chac when it is time for Chac to soak the earth with water from his gourd (A container or ornament made from the hollowed and dried skin of this fruit).
In the Middle Ages, frogs and toads have been associated with witchcraft as mentioned above. The toad's saving grace was that it was believed at that time to have a precious stone hidden in its head. The stones were known as 'toadstones' and were thought to bear magical powers including destroying poisons and curing stomach pains and aches. William Shakespeare refers to this toadstone in As You Like It when the words are : Sweet are the uses of adversity; Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous; Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.'
Other stories of frogs in mythology from history tell us of how witches used toads to carry out terrible deeds such as killing men and women, horses and cattle. Apparently in exchange for the witches souls, the frogs would do as the witches wished and bring death and ruin to those villagers in surrounding areas.
Today people still believe that handling one or a toad will cause you to have warts.
In Australia the water-holding frog is used by Aborigines as a source of water. Apparently when squeezed they produce quite a sizeable quantity of so-say pure water from their bladders!
In the western world however, they tend to find themselves used in the name of science and education - they are often dissected in the classroom/science laboratory and the most common type used is the Rana temporaria and the Rana pipiens. These specimens are not however used in the work of herpetology but instead in the coursework of students comparing anatomy and physiology of for example, the lizard and the rat.
Also today, they are widely accepted as a good food to eat, and are eaten in France as well as in Asia. In the West Indies, you could find yourself eating a Mountain Chicken species.
So these creatures have been with us for many many centuries, and it would be so sad to lose them.
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