Monday, September 5, 2022

More on Dragons

I posted on dragons a while back, HERE. From TOR:

Dragons are everywhere. Just about everyone has a version. Many are based on the Western dragon: scaled, winged, breathes fire. Some incline toward the Eastern variety: sinuous, often wingless, allied with air and water. They’re magical, mystical, and immensely powerful.

They are ancient. Apep/Apophis of Egypt, Tiamat of Mesopotamia, Typhon and the Hydra of the Greeks, the dragon that guarded the Golden Fleece, were all some form of serpent monster, often with multiple heads—the Greeks especially had a fondness for that. The dragons of China go back millennia, and have been allied with and symbolic of imperial power since the first emperor.

In the West, dragons have generally been agents of evil. They bring death and destruction, and it’s heroes’ duty and destiny to destroy them. Marduk casts down Tiamat and saves the world. St. George, like Perseus before him, slays the dragon and saves the maiden.

In the East by contrast, dragons are wise and benevolent. They are protectors of the land, bringers of rain, with power over the wind and the sea. Their presence brings good luck.

Modern fantasy has embraced the full range of draconic possibilities. Smaug is far from the only dragon in Tolkien’s legendarium. As terrible as he is, he’s the last and least of an ancient and evil lineage.

He comes out of the Western medieval and far northern tradition: the winged Wyrm who amasses a hoard of treasure and defends it against all comers. Tolkien knew, none better, the dragon that Beowulf fought in the Anglo-Saxon epic. (Read more.)

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