[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Re: More than we wanted to hear on Dragons

sj@io.com wrote:

> This is a fairly content-free remark . . . So medieval illustrators
> gave  some dragons four legs like animals, and some two legs like
> men, and some  no legs like snakes. So what? They drew unicorns, too
> - does that mean  they were familiar with Monoclonius? It doesn't
> require either "ancestral  memories" or "unrecorded fossil
> discoveries" to explain the medieval  fabulists. Your speculations
> are very old ideas, and Occam's  Razor shaves them away. Can we get
> back to dinosaurs? 

Well, yes. I would like to point out however that literary and ethnographic
research shows very clearly that dragons were "developed" from mythical snakes
or serpents. In the Western world, snakes have traditionally been held to
represent, underground, "ktonic" powers (perhaps because snakes in cool
climates often hibernate underground). The Minoans had a snake cult, the
Greeks too venerated snakes. The Norsemen believed that a gigantic serpent
lived in the ocean sea, large enough to completely encircle Middlegarth. Thor
actually hooked it  once when fishing, but it got away... the big ones usually
do. The Norse word for this was *lindorm*, "winding-serpent". Other, smaller
"winding serpents" guarded hidden treasure. The root of the dragon myth is
very clear here. Legs, bat wings, venom-spitting and fiery breath were added
on later, for effect. --It should be added however that the curious
quadrupedalian retiles on the Ishtar Gate of Babylon (re-erected in Berlin)
have sometimes been interpreted as early dragons. We should perhaps note that
Chinese dragons fly, but without the aid of wings. These dragons were
benevolent beings, associated with rivers and rain. A five-clawed dragon was
the imperial emblem and figuered on the flag of imperial China (lesser men had
to make do with the four-clawed variety).

Lars Bergquist

- via BulkRate 2.0