A salamander is an amphibious creature, right? You know, sort of like a squidgy water lizard.
Well, salamanders also live in myth as a creature that is comfortable living in the heat of a fire. This myth appears to have originated with the damp-loving salamanders hiding in a nicely rotting log, only to make a hurried escape when that log was thrown onto a roaring fire.
Imagine the surprise that everyone would get from that unexpected fireside arrival. I am sure the salamander would be just as surprised as those huddled around the fire on a cold night!
Interestingly this article from 1906 is something of a double myth. A human seeming to have the ability to behave in the manner of a mythological creature, a human salamander.
Chamouni was a man from Russia who claimed to be incombustible. Hmmm…. That is a claim that is just asking to be tested to the bitter end, isn’t it?
Chamouni would reportedly encourage people to pour melted lead on his tongue and press their seal into it. He would also have visitors melt lead, or boil mercury, and drink it, apparently with relish. (I think we all know that the mercury drinking could have bought its own unpleasant end, without the one you already suspect is coming!)
Chamouni’s ‘grandest experiment’ was to enter an oven with a raw leg of mutton only exiting alongside the cooked joint. Yeah, you know where this is going, don’t you?
Clearly Chamouni’s superpower failed him one day, and he exited the oven as a pile of ash.
I wonder who was in charge of the knob on the oven? After all, the worst roast burning you could do in the average oven is only going to render the meat inedible, it won’t actually be a pile of ash in the bottom of the baking dish will it?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I know that the oven they were using was completely different from the one I cook my lamb roasts in. After all, if I could fit a grown man in my oven the Man would never set foot in the kitchen while I was cooking again…. Still, what on earth were they cooking in? Had they borrowed the oven from the local crematoria?!
Chamouni’s ashes were sent home to Mojaisk, Russia where a monument was reported to have been erected with a Latin inscription commemorating his fate. What do you think it said?