MYTHICAL BEINGS

 


Dragon

Winged Dragon

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Dragon and Winged Dragon

Dragon derives from the Greek word 'drakon', meaning "large serpent". Celtic kings in Britain were called "dragons"; in Arthurian legends, Uther, father of Arthur, was called the Pendragon (Head Dragon) or High King.

In Chinese mythology the celestial dragons guard the abodes of the gods; dragon spirits, who rule over wind and rain but can also cause flooding; earth dragons, who cleanse the rivers and deepen the oceans; treasure guarding dragons; and the imperial dragons, who have five claws instead of the usual four. In Taoism, the dragon represents the yang principle and is often portrayed surrounded by water or clouds. The Chinese dragon is thus associated with the sublime elemental powers.

In European mythology, a dragon is a serpent-like legendary creature. The Dragon is sometimes known by the Nordic word, ormr (Old English wyrm means serpent — draca means dragon). Though a winged creature, the dragon is generally to be found in its chthonic lair, a cave that identifies it as an ancient creature of earth, like the mythic serpent, that was a source of knowledge even in Eden.

The dragon of the modern period is typically depicted as a huge, scaly, horned, dinosaur-like creature, with leathery wings and the ability to breathe fire. Iconically it has at last combined the Chinese dragon with the western one. It typically protects a cavern filled with gold and treasure and is usually associated with a great hero, who attempts to slay it. Many modern stories represent dragons as being extremely intelligent creatures who can talk, some with the ability to use magic. Often dragons are extremely ancient. Some are helpful and wise, whom heroes can consult for advice, while others are greedy and guard a huge hoard of treasure.

For the Greeks of the Classical times, dragons were terrifying serpent like earth-born remnants of an earlier age, dark creatures that had to be heroically eliminated. Dragons were guardians of underground sources of power, and often guarded the more literal sources, springs, where the watery underworld burst to the surface. The water-dragon most widely depicted was literally called the "Hydra." The serpent like dragon guardian of the spring or cleft, where healing and oracular properties must not be approached without caution, was a protector of the original inhabitants of Greece (Pelasgians) and their prehistoric lore. Always, in the literary myths that have survived, the hero from the new Olympian age is seen to destroy the dragon, never to consult it At Delphi the ancient oracle came from the Goddess's serpentine dragon deep in the cleft, the Python and his seeress; but Apollo "saved" the inhabitants of Delphi from its "ravages"— then assumed the oracular powers for himself.

Dragons of Slavic mythology hold mixed temperaments towards humans. For example, dragons in Bulgarian mythology are either male or female, each gender having a different view of mankind. The female dragon and male dragon, often seen as brother and sister, represent different forces of agriculture. The female dragon represents harsh weather and is the destroyer of crops, the hater of mankind, and is locked in a never ending battle with her brother. The male dragon protects the humans' crops from destruction and is generally loving to humanity. Fire and water play major roles in Bulgarian dragon lore; the female has water characteristics, whilst the male is usually a fiery creature. In Bulgarian legend, dragons are three headed, winged beings with snake's bodies.

The most famous dragons in Norse mythology and Germanic mythology, are Jormungand, a form of cobra so big that the earth-disc can be encircled by it; the dragon encountered by Beowulf; and Fafnir, who was killed by Siegfried. Fafnir turned into a dragon because of his greed. Many European stories of dragons have them guarding a treasure hoard. Both Fafnir's and Beowulf's dragons guarded earthen mounds full of ancient treasure. The treasure was cursed and brought ill to those who later possessed it.
Dragons in the emblem books popular from late medieval times through the 17th century often represent the dragon as an emblem of greed. (some quotes are needed) The prevalence of dragons in European heraldry demonstrates that there is more to the dragon than greed.

Although today we associate dragons almost universally with fire, in medieval legend the creatures were often associated with water, guarding springs or living near or under water.
Other European legends about dragons include "Saint George and the Dragon", in which a brave knight defeats a dragon holding a princess captive. This legend may be a Christianized version of the myth of Perseus, or of the mounted Phrygian god Sabazios vanquishing the chthonic serpent, but its origins are obscure. Saint George is the Patron Saint of England. Meanwhile, across the border, a red dragon is represented on the Welsh flag. Due to this clash of symbolism, there are very few George and the Dragon pubs in Wales.

http://en.wikipedia.org Wikipedia


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