Two of the most poisonous snakes are also the most sacred — the rattlesnake and the cobra. Of all the species of cobra, the King Cobra reigns as the largest venomous snake in the world. When the cobra is alert, it rises up and flattens its neck into the distinctive ‘hood’ that is instantly recognizable.
In India the cobra is sacred, a totem for the indigenous people, and a symbol of power. A cobra myth tells of it sheltering Buddha from the sun as he slept. A cobra near a dwelling is thought to be a good omen — not surprising since it’s a fierce exterminator of rodents. In Egypt, the cobra was venerated and represented several ancient deities. Cleopatra is associated with the viper, but she used the venom of the cobra to end her life on earth. And why not, since the cobra in Ancient Egypt was associated with the afterlife.
A cobra was found in the tomb of Tutankhamen, as a symbol of protection.
When disturbed, most of these snakes can rear up and spread their neck (or hood) in a characteristic threat display. However, not all snakes referred to as cobras are of the same genus, or even of the same family.
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