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asp, popular name for several species of viper, one of which, the European asp ( Vipera aspis ), is native to S Europe. It is also a name for the Egyptian cobra ( Naja haja ). It is believed that the asp that tradition says Cleopatra used to commit suicide was either that cobra or the horned viper ( Cerastes cornutus ) of N Africa.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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