Tarasque

The tarasque or tarrasque was a fearsome monster tamed in a legendary story about Saint Martha.

It inhabited the area of Tarascon in Provence, and devastated the landscape far and wide. The tarasque was a sort of dragon with six short legs like a bear's, an ox-like body covered with a turtle shell, and a scaly tail that ended in a scorpion sting. It had a lion's head, horse's ears, and the face of a bitter old man.

The king of Tarascon had attacked the tarasque with knights and catapults to no avail. But Saint Martha found the beast and charmed it with hymns and prayers, and led back the tamed tarasque to the city. The people, terrified by the monster, attacked it when it drew nigh. The monster offered no resistance and died there. Martha then preached a sermon to the people and converted many of them to Christianity.

The tarasque also features as a Dungeons & Dragons monster.

A festival is held every year on the last Sunday of June to remember the tarasque and Tartarin, the main character of Alphonse Daudet's Tartarin de Tarascon.

See also: fantasy bestiary.


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