The crossword clue “Once-sacred slitherers” is hinting towards a group of venomous snakes that were once venerated by the ancient Egyptians. These snakes are called ASPS, and they are known for their potent venom, which can be fatal to humans.
Asps are typically found in the Middle East and Africa, although some species can be found in other parts of the world as well. They are a member of the viper family and are known for their distinctive hood, which they flare when they feel threatened.
In ancient times, asps were considered sacred in Egypt and were often depicted in artwork and hieroglyphics. The most famous story involving an asp is that of Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt. It is said that Cleopatra used an asp to take her own life rather than be captured by the Roman army.
In modern times, asps are still feared for their venom, which can cause a range of symptoms, including pain, swelling, and even death. However, they are also an important part of the ecosystem, preying on small animals and helping to control populations of rodents and other pests.
Overall, asps are fascinating creatures with a rich history and an important role to play in the natural world. I hope this explanation has been helpful to you!