and Winged 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.
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.
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
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.
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