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Blood rain or red rain is a phenomenon in which blood is perceived to fall from the sky in the form of rain. Cases have been recorded since Homer 's Iliad , composed approximately 8th century BC, and are widespread.

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Before the 17th century it was generally believed that the rain was actually blood. Literature mirrors cult practice , in which the appearance of blood rain was considered a bad omen. It was used as a tool foreshadowing events, but while some of these may be literary devices, some occurrences are historic. There is now a scientific consensus [1] that the blood rain phenomenon is caused by aerial spores of green microalgae Trentepohlia annulata.

Recorded instances of blood rain usually cover small areas. The duration can vary, sometimes lasting only a short time, others several days. By the 17th century, explanations for the phenomenon had moved away from the supernatural and attempted to provide natural reasons. In the 19th century, blood rains were scientifically examined, and theories that dust gave the water its red colour gained ground.

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Today, the dominant theories are that the rain is caused by red dust suspended in the water rain dust or by the presence of micro-organisms. Alternative explanations include sunspots and aurorae.

Occurrences of blood rain throughout history are distributed from the ancient, to the modern day. The earliest literary instance is in Homer 's Iliad , in which Zeus twice caused a rain of blood, on one occasion to warn of slaughter in a battle. The first-century Greek biographer Plutarch also recounts a tradition of a rain of blood during the reign of Romulus , founder of Rome. Unusual events such as a rain of blood were considered bad omens in Antiquity, and this belief persisted through the Middle Ages and well into the Early modern period. And milk and butter were turned to blood.

And Lothere , king of Kent, died". Tatlock suggests that although the Chronicle was written long after the events, it may have basis in historical truth. He notes that although the rain may seem to be foreshadowing the death of Lothere, medieval chroniclers often noted unusual occurrences in their works "merely for their general interest".

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This event was further expanded on by Layamon in his poem Brut written around , who described how blood rain was one of several portents, and which itself led to destruction: [9]. In the same time here came a strange token, such as before never came, nor never hitherto since. From heaven here came a marvellous flood; three days it rained blood, three days and three nights.

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That was exceeding great harm! When the rain was gone, here came another token anon. Here came black flies, and flew in men's eyes; in their mouth, in their nose, their lives went all to destruction; such multitude of flies here was that they ate the corn and the grass. Woe was all the folk that dwelt in the land! Thereafter came such a mortality that few here remained alive. Afterward here came an evil hap, that king Riwald died.

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Many works which record occurrences of blood rain, such as that of Layamon, were written significantly after the event was supposed to have taken place. The 14th-century monk Ralph Higden in his work, the Polchronicon , recounts that in there was a rain of blood, perhaps intended by the author as an indication of the coming Viking invasion. Written in the 12th century, the Book of Leinster records many sensational events, including showers of silver; it records a shower of blood in In the work of William of Newburgh , a rain of blood proves the drive and determination of Richard the Lionheart.

While some of his advisers thought the rain was an evil omen, Richard was undeterred: [13].

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Chronicle of the Grey Friars of London. In Germany, a shower of blood was one of several portents for the arrival of the Black Death in —