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The Large Tree Nymph (Idea leuconoe) must have awakened men's fantasy for
· In middle Europe butterflies are seen as the harbingers of spring.
· In general butterflies mean freedom, lightness and detachment.
· People used to think butterflies were witches or fairies in disguise stealing butter, cream and milk. This could also be the reason for the name butterfly.
· Some people still believe that certain moths come to cowsheds at night to the cows’ udders.
· In many countries people consider butterflies as human souls:
· In legends butterflies are the souls of dead persons or bring luck.
· The Slavs open the door or a window so that the deceased person’s soul, often represented as a butterfly, can leave the body.
· In antiquity the Greek considered butterflies as dead people’s spirits
· In many countries pictures of butterflies can be seen on tombstones.
· In Finland some people believe the butterfly soul of a dreaming person flutters peacefully above the bed.
· The belief that butterflies developed from the tears of the Mary comes from Romania.
· In Greek mythology Psyche, sweetheart of Eros, is often represented with butterfly wings.
· The Hindus’ mythology also deals with butterflies: watching the change of caterpillars Brahma became filled with deep calm and was convinced to achieve perfection through rebirth.
· Chuang-tse, a representative of Taoism, got the nickname "butterfly philosopher" because he dreamed he was a butterfly and enjoyed flying around and sucking nectar.
· Johann Wolfgang Goethe, a German poet, called
butterflies "products of air and light". He was also very impressed by
the change from pupa to butterfly.
· In the Middle Ages the monk Albertus Magnus thought caterpillars laid eggs and weren’t related to butterflies. He called butterflies "winged worms of different colors".
· Plinius thought caterpillars developed when dew-drops fell on a tree’s leaves in spring.
· The Germans say a person in love has "butterflies in the belly".
· In antiquity and in the Middle Ages big swarms of butterflies were read as bad omens predicting wars and epidemics.
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