Some Famous People and Dragons:
Saint George: IIIrd Century A.D.
There are many tales of St. George. Some say he lived in England, some say he was a crusader travelling through turkey or Syria. But all agree that
St. George slayed a dragon. One tale is that the saint decided to slay the dragon of Cappadocia. The locals fed the dragon their best sheep in hopes
of pleasing the dragon. This method only appeased the dragon for a short while, and then it attacked the town again. Saint George came to this town
just when the people were sacrificing their princess. He slew the dragon and saved the princess.
The Travels of Marco Polo in China date to the early 1290s. He was the first Western traveler to write about the various provinces of Burma (Mien) in
what is present-day China. Marco Polo returned to Venice in 1295 and his famous journals started circulating in Europe by 1298.
And quite possibly one of the most amazing stories that I have heard:
Leaving the city of Yachi, and traveling ten days into a westerly direction, you reach the Province of Karazan which is also the name of its chief
city…Here are seen huge serpents, ten paces in length, and ten spans in the girt of the body. At the fore-part, near the head, they have two short
egs, having three claws like those of a tiger, with eyes larger than a fourpenny loaf (pane da quattro denari) and very glaring. The jaws are wide
enough to swallow a man, the teeth are large and sharp, and their whole appearance is so formidable, that neither man, nor any kind of animal, can
approach them without terror. Others are met with of a smaller size, being eight, six, or five paces long; and the following method is used for taking
them. In the day-time, by reason of the great heat, they lurk in caverns, from whence, at night, they issue to seek their food, and whatever beast
they meet with and can lay hold of, whether tiger, wolf, or any other, they devour; after which they drag themselves towards some lake, spring of
water, or river, in order to drink. By their motion in this way along the shore, and their vast weight, they make a deep impression, as if a heavy
beam had been drawn along the sands.
It appears that Marco polo has seen a Dragon, but not just one dragon, but many of dragons. Very odd, very odd indeed...
Those whose employment it is to hunt them observe the track by which they are most frequently accustomed to go, and fix into the ground several
pieces of wood, armed with sharp iron spikes, which they cover with the sand in such a manner as not to be perceptible. When therefore the animals
make their way towards the places they usually haunt, they are wounded by these instruments, and speedily killed. The crows, as soon as they perceive
them to be dead, set up their scream; and this serves as a signal to the hunters, who advance to the spot, and proceed to separate the skin from the
flesh, taking care immediately to secure the gall, which is most highly esteemed in medicine. In cases of the bite of a mad dog, a pennyweight of it,
dissolved in wine, is administered. It is also useful in accelerating parturition, when the labour pains of women have come on. A small quantity of it
being applied to carbuncles, pustules, or other eruptions on the body, they are presently dispersed; and it is efficacious in many other complaints.
The flesh also of the animal is sold at a dear rate, being thought to have a higher flavour than other kinds of meat, and by all persons it is'
esteemed a delicacy.
But wait the history of Dragons is not over yet:
Records of the Greek historian Herodotus and the Jewish historian Josephus describe flying reptiles in ancient Egypt and Arabia. In other
cultures, it was a great honor to kill these creatures. There are numerous records of warriors killing great beasts in order to establish credibility
in a village. Gilgamesh, Fafnir, Beowulf and other famous legends, including the mythology of Egypt, Greece and Rome, include specific descriptions of
dragons and other dinosaur-like creatures.
How do all of these cultures:
Dragon history is revealed on numerous objects of ancient art throughout the world. Dinosaur-like creatures are featured on Babylonian landmarks,
Roman mosaics, Asian pottery and royal robes, Egyptian burial shrouds and government seals, Peruvian burial stones and tapestries, Mayan sculptures,
Aboriginal and Native American petroglyphs (carved rock drawings), and many other pieces of ceremonial art throughout ancient cultures.
Have depictions of the same creature, yet many of them have never met eachother. How is this possible?
In literature, dragons are certainly a virtually universal ancient motif. Dragons are found in the early literature of the English, Irish, Danish,
Norse, Scandinavians, Germans, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Babylonians. Among the American Indians, legends of dragons flourished among the Crees,
Algonquins, Onondagas, Ojibways, Hurons, Chinooks, Shoshones, and Alaskan Eskimos.
One of the most famous Danish dragon tales is from "Sigurd of the Volsungs" and concerns "The Slaying of Fafnir." Sigurd, the hero of the epic, is
afraid of Fafnir the dragon because his tracks seem great. This surely would have been true of the large dinosaurs, whether the footprints themselves,
or the sound of their approach were being considered. Sigurd hides in a pit, and when the dragon crawls to the water, he strikes up into its heart.
Again, if a man were to slay a large dinosaur, this would be an intelligent way to do it, for one would be out of the way of the creature's powerful
tail and sharp, meat-rending teeth. Probably the head, neck and heart were the only truly vulnerable areas on the huge body. Most dinosaurs were
basically water creatures. Therefore, everything in this scene is totally realistic, and makes good dinosaur-hunting strategy.
Greek heroes who are supposed to have slain dragons are Hercules, Apollo, and Perseus. Indeed, the World Book Encyclopedia (1973) says "every country
had them in its mythology." In Norse mythology, a Great Ash Tree, Yggdrasil, which was thought to support the whole universe, had three immense
roots. One extended into the region of death. Niflheim and the dragon Nidhogg perpetually gnawed at the root of the tree. This precarious situation,
which seems to place the whole universe at Nidhogg's mercy, perhaps shows the conscious or subconscious deeply rooted fear of the proto-norse for
dinosaurs, those terrible lizards. If the fearsome creatures were threatening the ancestors of the Norse peoples, one can easily see how such a myth
could have developed.
The Egyptians wrote of the dragon Apophis, enemy of the sun god Re. The Babylonians recorded their belief in the monster Tiamat. The Norse people
wrote of Lindwurm, guardian of the treasure of Rheingold, who was killed by the hero Siegfried. The Chinese wrote of dragons in their ancient book, I
Ching, associating the creatures with power, fertility, and well being. They also used dragons in early art, ancient pottery, folk pageantry and
dances as a motif. The Aztecs' plumed serpent may have represented a hybrid in their thought between a dragon and another creature. The pottery of
ancient Nazca culture of Peru shows a cannibal monster much like a dragon.
In British Columbia, Lake Sashwap is believed to be home to the dragon Ta Zam-a, and Lake Cowichan to Tshingquaw. In Ontario, Lake Meminisha is the
reputed home of a fish-like serpent feared by the Cree Indians. Angoub is the legendary Huron dragon, Hiachuckaluck the dragon believed in by the
Chinooks of British Columbia.