The whole story was most probably the creation of imaginations stimulated by torture and despair, unless it was a deliberate fiction set forth for the purpose of provoking hostility against the Jews.
We do not know how far the imaginations about Prester John retained their vitality in 1221, forty-four years after the letter of Pope Alexander, for we know of no mention of Prester John in the interval.
Hence the animals have suggested to vivid imaginations the head of the fabled Gorgon or Medusa with her chevelure of writhing snakes.
Imaginations of the same sort are also to be found, e.g.
For long after the Vienna Congress of 1814-1815 the " Kaiser " as such exercised a powerful influence over the imaginations of the German people outside the Habsburg dominions; but this was because the title was still surrounded with its ancient halo and the essential change was not at once recognized.
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