Fire-breather. Scales. Wings. Terror. Gold. Monster.
All these things describe the age-old King of Mythology, the Dragon. Nearly every country in the world (yes, dragons are a world-wide phenomenon!) has legends of dragons going back to time before memory. These great beasts of the air and creatures of the deep crevices populate legends and myths from practically every major recognized culture (https://www.dragon-history.com).
Most people picture a large, flying reptile spouting flames, ravaging towns and sacking castles when they hear the word “dragon” (Smaug, anyone?). However, many dragons seem to have their roots in a more serpentine nature. The English word for dragon derives from drakon—a Greek word originally meaning large serpent (www.britanica.com). Many legends, particularly in Asian cultures, still show dragons with snake-like bodies and benevolent attitudes.
Additionally interesting regarding the serpentine-ness of early dragons are the medieval Christian associations of dragons with the devil (more on European dragons coming soon!). In Genesis, it is Satan masquerading as a serpent that tricks Eve into eating the forbidden fruit, thus causing pretty much all of humanity’s issues thereafter. Is it possible that dragons and serpents have this common ancestor and that there may be more authentic cause for the similarities between the two?
So, the big question…were dragons real? There seems to be a lot of world-wide hype about a purely mythical creature. What about ancient texts that refer specifically (and in most cases, give very vivid descriptions!) to giant serpents, great beasts, Leviathan, and Behemoth? Some of these texts include the Bible, the Babylonian epic Gilgamesh, pieces written by Aristotle, Beowulf (what if Grendel and the Great Dragon were real, not just depictions of a pagan society recorded by Christian monks?), as well as several other solid historical sources (www.answersingenesis.org). Ancient historians and the earliest writers don’t seem to have any problem with a staunch belief in dragons.
Tell me, what other creatures do we know for certain existed that may seem like dragons?
Join me next week and we’ll look more into this phenomenon that swept Europe in the middle ages…the dragon-slaying knight.
Tell me in the comments, do you think dragons were/are real? Why or why not? Go to the top of the article, click the grey “Comments” and you’re good to go!
Siersha of Errinton by Shari L. Tapscott
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede
Dragon Rose by Christine Pope
CREATIVE WRITING PROMPTS
Smoke drifted from the beast’s nostrils as I stood, frozen in time and place. Giant orange eyes gazed balefully at me.
Dragons were/were not real. Here’s why:
The dragon motioned with its scaly arm. “You may take one item from my treasure horde. But be wise in what you choose.” I stared at the vast pile of riches before me. What would best aide me in my quest?
Trailer for I Am Dragon–the original is in Russian. And it’s on Prime. I highly recommend watching in the original language with subtitles. 😉
Mythological Bestiary: Dragons
And no self-respecting blogger would do a post on dragons without including Smaug. 😉
Smaug “I am fire!”