In the animal symbolism of the ancients the salamander may be said to represent the element of Fire; the eagle, Air; the lion, Earth; the dolphin, Water.

From Fictitious and Symbolic Creatures in Art by John Vinycomb, p213

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The heraldic signification of the salamander was that of a brave and generous courage that the fire of affliction cannot destroy or consume.

From Fictitious and Symbolic Creatures in Art by John Vinycomb, p213

The salamander in flames, of frequent occurence in heraldry, is of this class. Like the toad, ‘ugly and venemous’, the salamander was regarded by the ancients with the utmost horror and aversion. It was accredited with wondrous qualities, and the very sight of it ‘abominable and fearful to behold.’

From Fictitious and Symbolic Creatures in Art by John Vinycomb, p8