Roc, the elephant-carrying bird

Today, let’s talk about the Roc. This Arabian myth looks like a giant bird. And when I say giant, I do mean absolutely huge.

Huge, Elephant-Carrying Bird

Yes, the Roc in mythology is supposed to be eagle-like and large enough to carry an elephant! And yes, they are bird of prey. So they would eat the elephant.

Some stories even say its wingspan could block out the sun. In the Arabian story The Thousand and One Nights, Sinbad was carried off to the mountain clinging to the foot of the Roc. That’s quite big, isn’t it?

Origins of the Myth

The word Roc is an abbreviation of a Persian word I can’t say: رخ rokh. Cool, huh? Some scholars claim the bird is a mix-up of legends between Indian solar bird Garuda and the serpent Nāga, or a King Cobra.

Others think the giant bird was pterodactyl whose description was twisted through thousands of retellings. Or, it could have been an eagle carrying a lamb and somehow morphed into a giant bird and an elephant. Such is the joy of oral storytelling.

Modern Roc Stories

I’ve seen Rocs used to good effect in a few stories recently. My favorite being Shannon Mayer’s Rylee Adamson novel Blind Salvage. But, feel free to make up your own version of the story. What would a giant bird do in your world?


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