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Dragons, Myth Part of Mankind's History

Jun. 22, 2022

Dragons are included in the myth and folklore of every ancient culture on earth. The dragon Smaug appears in The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Dragons appear in the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling, Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey, the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea Cycle, the rock group "Imagine Dragons," and A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. This last work was turned into the television series, Game of Thrones.

So, why are dragons so appealing, or so frightening? Is it possible that we remember them from somewhere?



The Mediterranean

In ancient Egyptian mythology, there was a dragon named Apep who embodied chaos and was the opponent of light and truth. Apep was first mentioned during the Eighth Dynasty, which dates to between 2190 and 2165 BC. It was thought that the setting of the sun was caused by the god Ra descending to the underworld to battle Apep.

Ancient Egypt also had the Ouroboros who was a dragon eating its own tail. An image of an Ouroboros was found in Tutankhamun's tomb, and it came to be a symbol of the Gnostic Christians. During medieval times, the Ouroboros was a symbol for alchemy.


India, Scandinavia

At the same time in India, there lived the dragon Vritra who was the personification of drought, and who blocked the courses of rivers. Vritra was heroically slain by the deity Indra.

Farther north, in Norse mythology, are the dragons Jörmungandr, Níðhöggr, and Fafnir. The hero Sigurd catches Fafnir by digging a pit between Fafnir's cave and the spring where he drinks, then Sigurd stabs Fafnir, and on Odin's advice, he drinks his blood. This gives Sigurd the ability to understand the language of birds.



Europe

European interest in dragons peaked between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. A medieval bestiary, which is a treatise on real or mythical animals, that dates to 1260 AD displays the earliest known Western dragon.

In the 11th century, France had the story of Saint George and the Dragon. That dragon had a voracious appetite for both sheep and children until George rode into town.


China

In China, dragons are closely associated with rain, and there are many Chinese texts containing prayers invoking dragons to bring rain. To this day, during holidays including the Spring Festival and Lantern Festival, villagers construct a sixteen-foot-long dragon from cloth and bamboo and parade it through their villages.

Beginning of the Han dynasty and continuing into the Qing dynasty, Chinese emperors were closely identified with dragons. Dragons appeared on their clothing and within their houses.



The Americas

In Mesoamerica, there lived Quetzalcoatl, whose name translates to "feathered serpent". If you had to describe a dragon, the feathered serpent comes pretty close.

Quetzalcoatl first appeared on a stela at the Olmec site La Venta, which was built around 900 BC. He was worshipped at the city of Teotihuacan during the first century BC, and he was the Aztec god of wind, air, and learning.

Quetzalcoatl also appears at sites such as Chichén Itzá, El Tajín, and throughout the Mayan area.


Memory of Dragons

There is no ancient culture on earth that doesn't include dragons in its folklore and myths. Even the Inuit people have a reptilian dragon-like monster in their folklore, while living far from any actual reptiles.

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Comments
  • Raul:

    2023/02/05

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      Gengu:

      2023/02/06

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    2023/02/04

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      Gengu:

      2023/02/04

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    2023/02/03

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      Gengu:

      2023/02/03

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      Gengu:

      2023/02/01

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    2023/01/27

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      Gengu:

      2023/01/30

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    2023/01/18

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      Gengu:

      2023/01/30

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    2023/01/08

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      Gengu:

      2023/01/09

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    2023/01/07

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      2023/01/09

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      Gengu:

      2023/01/06

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    2023/01/05

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      Gengu:

      2023/01/05

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