For some reason snakes are usually associated with evil, guile and malice. Well, from that foul little creature in Eve and Adam’s paradise to scary hypnotist Kaa from the Jungle Book to Voldemort’s nasty minion/pet/horcrux (you know the story) Nagini, snakes have never exactly been the stories’ heros. And the only line from Shakespeare’s Macbeth I vividly remember is: “Look like th’ innocent flower, But be the serpent under ’t.” How about that for some defamation?
Time to spruce up someone’s image here, so I present you: Johannes!
You’re probably not quite convinced yet, so I’ll tell you this little fella’s story.
The snake sculpture between the entrance pillars of Rostock’s townhall has been around since the 18th century but has often been destroyed or even stolen – yep, centuries of blaming these creatures for bascially everything (Original sin, folks!) sure made an impact. Up til 1993 the famous serpent was actually made from mortar until being replaced by a bronze one. That one, however, got swiped in ’97, so that the VR Bank chipped in and donated a new bronze figure that was named “Johannes”. If you’ve followed the story so far, you’ll know this is the one in the photo. He’s actually sort of a chimera – a snake with an eel tail. In 2001 the old snake returned under mystical circumstances so that there’s two of them now but Johannes stayed put.
No one’s quite sure though, why this statue got there in the first place. Some think it was meant to endow wisdom to the town’s councilmen, others are convinced it served as an eel measure for the fish market. There even exists a tale of a storm tide that washed up an eel that got stuck between the townhall’s pillars and turned into a snake over time.
To cut to the chase: You definitely have to go and see Johannes yourself – for a good reason of course: Caressing the little guy’s head is supposed to bless you with luck and wisdom – and who would want to miss out on that?