I fear me you but warm the starvèd snake,
Who, cherished in your breasts, will sting your hearts.
William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
Snakes strike primitive fear in most of us--one of the most primitive creatures striking an ancient chord. Especially me (down to the garden snakes that nestle against our stone foundation that startle me while I pull weeds and hack at the nasty sumac that establishes roots where it's warm).