Dragons III

More recent dragons

So much for cosmic dragons, now a bit about earth dwelling ones. Dragons in Western cultures tend to be cave dwellers. Sometimes, they can think and are able to understand and use human speech, such as Fafnir.  Dragons are unique: you won't usually find a family of dragons. Some dragons do repose in caves and guard gold, but other dragons ravage entire regions and their presence is a calamity. Getting rid of a pesky dragon requires special help. A dragon cannot be slain by normal men at arms, entire armies will fail to vanquish a dragon, only a god, hero, or saint can conquer one. Even for a hero, slaying a dragon requires the correct tool: a sword made by the gods, a magic ring, a silver bow and arrow, or some such. In the case of Perseus, the deadly stare of the severed head of another monster, Medusa, did the job.  Only rarely is a dragon slain by mundane means, but the nasty bits sometimes come when it's dead. Then the hero lets down his guard and that's when the dragon has its revenge - often from poison in its blood. But there are exceptions....

Siegfried accidentally tasted burning dragon blood, but in this case he could then understand the language of birds. Who gave some good advice.
             An archetype hero in the Middle Ages symbolizes the victory of good over evil.

st geo  Byzantine (copy) St George st George
Saint George and the Dragon
(Raphael) 1504. The horse seems more impressed than the lady.

Master of Saint Verdiana - Archangel Michael Slaying the Dragon - (1380)
(left) Detail of Portal Relief from the Stave Church at Hyllestad, Norway Detail showing Siegfried slaying the dragon Fafnir with the sword Nothung.

(right) Same scene but at the Met in New Yorksig


                                              The Sack of Nargothrond

Glaurung is introduced in J.R.R Tolkin's The Silmarillion as the first of the Dragons. He is also the main antagonist in The Children of Hurin. He was known as The Deceiver, The Golden, The Great Worm and the Worm of Greed. You can see another Tolkin dragon in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug at your local movie house.


                                   CYMRU - The flag of Wales.
The oldest recorded use of the dragon (Y Ddraig Goch)  to symbolize Wales is in the Historia Brittonum, written around AD 829, but it is popularly supposed to have been the battle standard of King Arthur and other ancient Celtic leaders.

A recently discovered baby dragon of Indonesia. Although dragons are very rare and slow to mature, the locals are already growing concerned, as well they should be: the Komodo dragon of Indonesia weighs over 200 lbs.