Of all the creatures dragon is best known around the world. From ancient times to the present day, in the east and the west, in the national epic and fantasy works monstrous dragon was the personification of superhuman strength. In the legends of many peoples of the world dragons — powerful opponents eternal heroes. In each of the legends of the victory over the dragon has great symbolic and sometimes practical. Heroes of Middle Eastern traditions thus saved their people from various disasters.

Defeating the dragon, mythological Greek warriors immortality, and medieval knights — great treasures, a beautiful bride and the royal crown. In modern fiction novels fate of many civilizations of the planet depends on the outcome of the battle at times with the dragon, whose authority extends to the entire universe. Wherever there was a dragon, he has always been a brave opponent. Their struggle — the main story of myths of all peoples of the world.

However, the dragon is not always thought of as a monster, too. Modern dragon has very little in common with its medieval ancestor and even less — the dragons of ancient myths and legends, which was often quite unnatural monstrous bloodlust.

The word "dragon" of Greek origin, but in ancient Greece, and in many European countries, the dragon is often called differently. On the other hand, often called the dragon snakes and other animals that are, strictly speaking, are not. The problem is in the fact that a more or less accurate representation of who should be called a dragon, never was. From a shapeless monsters of ancient oriental legend turns into a dragon fruit of modern fiction — a being endowed with well-defined size, appearance, color and other features. But we must not forget that the dragon — a fictitious entity and therefore its description simply can not be as clear as the description of something really existing in nature. Perhaps that is why the dragon and is found in so many cultures. He — the embodiment of universal fear of snakes. But this is one more reason to be divided similar, yet different concepts of the dragon and snake.

In terms of solving the problem, we will talk about the creatures that, first, bear this name (like Greek, "dragon", the Roman "fight" or Old Irish "drauk") and, second, have the basic properties of the dragon — snake-like creature with huge wings , claws, tail, spewing fire or poison, protecting the treasures that live in remote places and opposing heroic warriors. This range is quite wide, but on the other hand, it did not include many of the creatures are sometimes called Dragon: Monsters of the Egyptian, Babylonian and ancient legends, peaceful oriental dragons and winged serpents, described by ancient and medieval scholars, whose aggression is not focused exclusively on the characters.

The image of the dragon was going to bit by bit and took final shape only in the Middle Ages. The root of the word "dragon" means "view", while the words for a snake in the European languages are usually from its properties to walk without assistance limbs — crawl, bend, "snake." Apparently, the dragon was so named for its vigilance or shining eyes. This property is in the ancient dragon predetermined primary function — to protect the treasure. If we add to this the hostile nature of the dragon, a legacy from the snakes, we repeated in the legends of many peoples story: dragon guarding something valuable, someone is trying to get that; dragon resists, the battle begins, the dragon slain, the winner gets what she wanted. This story can be seen as underlining properties different from the snake dragon and embodied in its name: it is — the guardian.

Many of the scientists who studied the mythological dragon, trying to determine the source from which arose the image. Attempts were made in three areas: etymological, when placed in the corner of the eye the original meaning of the word "dragon", and to which we referred above, naturalistic — Dragon Quest of animals or dinosaurs, and finally, the mythological — attempts to find a relationship with the older dragon, serpentine characters. While the first of the areas well explains the origin of the word "dragon", the other two are much closer to the possible source of the appearance of the image.

Natural human fear of snakes led to the creation of the image of the fictional creatures, in which the properties of the snake have been greatly exaggerated. Perhaps the cause of the legends of dragons were chance finds of dinosaur bones by ancient people. In favor of this assumption and the interest of the dragons from the end of XIX century in Europe after the discovery of the remains of dinosaurs.

The scientists, who prefer the mythological approach, believe that the dragon is the embodiment of the underground life, which because of their perceived uncertainty by ancient people as a hostile force. The hostility of the gods — the main feature of Middle Eastern myths of dragons, where divine heroes fight monsters to save the world from chaos. Mythology claims that assembled from various elements of the image of older dragon appeared in Egypt, and then moved to India, where the dragon of just living in the water being turned into a divine "protector of waters." In the Far Eastern mythology the dragon — generous protector of people, distributing vital water, a symbol of fertility and good luck. In the European view that developed mainly based on Greek mythology, the dragon, however, is opposed to the sun god. So there was a fundamental difference between the Western and Eastern dragons.

No matter how attractive the idea, is probably abandon the search for "original dragon" and accept the idea that every culture has experienced a need for a dragon-like creature and a dragon comes up with the nations of the world, independently of each other.

Indian "Rigveda" describes the battle between the celestial god Indra and underground demon Vitry, who was accused of stealing the rain clouds and the capture of terrestrial sources of water. Vitra is described as a dragon-being. Divine naked creatures with human faces and a snake's tail, inhabit a subterranean lake Patala. Depending on your destination Nagas are divided into four types: heavenly — guarded palaces, sacred — giving rain, the earth — dewatering of the river and hidden — to protect the treasure. In Burmese mythology naked, combining images of a dragon, snake and crocodile, the donee heroes rubies and also patronize some kings.

As naked lungi Chinese dragons are also divided into four types. Dragons guarding the Imperial Palace, are in contrast to other than four, and five claws. Oriental dragon generally most often associated with the royal or imperial power. First Chinese Emperor Fu Xi, according to legend, had a dragon's tail. His successor Shen Nong was raised again dragon. Emperor Huang Ti was taken up to heaven in a chariot of ivory, drawn by six winged dragons.

Fish Dragon Yu Lung, has turned from a carp in a winged creature and flown away to the sky by jumping through a waterfall Dragon Gate on the Yangtze River, is a symbol of some Chinese philosophical schools, it is believed that the passage of difficult exams is like jumping through a waterfall.

Greece gave Europe is not only a philosophy, science, medicine and politics, but also the most famous monster. Dragon has left its mark in Greek history, mythology and science. Megasthenes mentions the small winged snakes that live in India. Herodotus wrote in his "History" of the "multi-colored winged snakes are protected in Arabia trees, which grow spices." However, the European representation of the dragon is based more on the Greek myth than science.

First of all, it should be noted that the Greek dragons often had a number of goals, and consisted of parts of different animals. In the "Odyssey" and "Iliad" describes the Chimera — a creature made up of parts of a snake, a lion, a goat and man that spews flames. Hesiod in the "Theogony" says serpentine monsters messengers primordial chaos — teasing, Chimera and Tsifee. Echidna — poludeva Semi-Serpent with spotty skin, a creature that does not die and is aging — living in a remote cave and eats raw human flesh. From her union with Tsifeem, the enemy of Zeus, born Chimera, which, according to Homer, breathes fire and has three heads snake, goat and dragon. This monster was defeated by Perseus. If the three-headed Chimera, her father Tsifey — Stoglavy dragon whose eyes spew fire. Zeus wins Tsifeya in battle, from which shook the earth and sky.

The image of the dragon guarding the treasure, was widespread among the Greeks. Apollo, who won offensive, writhing monster, built on the wealth extracted famous temple at Delphi. The place where the battle took place was called Pitot ("stink"), hence the name "python".

In "Argonavtika" Apollonius of Rhodes Jason finds the golden fleece in the teeth of a huge dragon with fiery eyes, "the value of a superior ship with fifty rowers," living in the sacred grove in Colchis. With the help of Medea, daughter of the king of Colchis, to lull the dragon with his singing, Jason kills him and takes possession of the Golden Fleece. From the dragon's teeth sown in the field, which Jason plowed on for this purpose Taming the savage bull god Ares, grow the armed men, with whom Jason is also forced to join the battle. After the murder of their children Medea flees from Corinth to Delphi in a chariot drawn by winged dragons.

Repeats the feat Jason Cadmus who wins eoniyskogo dragon. According to legend, Cadmus, wishing to sacrifice the cow to Athena, sends his men to get water to the spring of Ares, but the dragon, the keeper of the spring, killing the messengers. Cadmus defeats the dragon and on the advice of Athena is sowing his teeth, of which also grow warriors. As retribution for the death of the dragon Cadmus is Ares for eight years.

However, perhaps the most famous dragon — palm garden of the Hesperides, which guards the golden apples, a gift to his bride Hera Zeus. According to Apollodorus, Ladon — a descendant Tsifeya and Echidna, the immortal dragon with a hundred heads, speaking in different voices. Hercules killed the palm to take over apples, too, becomes immortal.

It is known that Roman mythology is almost entirely borrowed from Greek. This is especially true of the Roman idea of the dragon. Ovid in "Metamorphoses" retells the Greek myths about fighting Jason, Hercules and Cadmus and dragons. In his version of the story of the Argonauts dragon with golden teeth and three languages guards the golden tree, which hangs fleece. But Jason singing lulls the dragon, and the juice of specially selected herbs. The result, as Ovid says, "the eyes are unaware before sleep closed in slumber" that allowed Jason to take the fleece.

The eleventh labor of Hercules is mentioned only in passing by Ovid, but there is also a reference to the "watchful eye" dragon. At the same time, the legend of the dragon by Cadmus description given much attention: here it is presented as a creature with golden skin, three languages and three rows of teeth in the mouth, writhing body of a dragon ring filled with poison, and pulled out of his eyes blaze. Cadmus hits him with a spear.

Virgil in the "Aeneid" describes the dragon guarding the golden apples in the garden of the Hesperides, and the two dragons that came from the sea and killed the priest Laocoon and his two sons. Although the history of the last two dragons goes back probably to the pre-Greek image of the dragon — a sea monster, their description completely fit into the Greek tradition: they have infinitely long tails, blood red armor and bursting fire bloody eyes.

In the legend, described Elián, Prince Pinda, make friends with a dragon in the desert, out of jealousy killing brothers. The dragon, according to Elia, "hears and sees a lot more than any of the living," he comes to avenge the death of a friend and smothers brothers with his tail, and then watch over the body before burial Pinda. This is not an unusual example of behavior dragon, in which he was transformed into a saver function protection, is not unique. Dragon protector uncommon in combat shields and banners of the Romans and the Celts, Vikings and their noses are often decorated with figures of dragons ships.

In the fable of the fox Fedra breaks a hole in an underground dungeon, where a dragon guards the treasure. The question fox, what use in underground waking dragon, he replies that it is — the fate assigned to him by Jupiter. At the end of the fable Fedor condemns misers that wealth does not bring pleasure.

Pliny, in his study of medical facilities describes the differences between the effects of bites of snakes, basilisks, snakes, vipers, salamanders and dragons, encouraging them to heal from various antidotes. The body of the dragon, in his opinion, does not contain toxins and its various parts can be good medicine and drugs: a dragon's head, buried in front of the threshold, the house brings happiness, dragon's eye ointment relieves nightmares, his teeth and vertebrae are excellent amulets. In addition, Pliny relates the story of salvation to them boys tamed dragon. But Pliny dragon little resemblance to a giant mythological monster. Rather, he referred to a certain type of dragon kite.

Pliny also mentions sorokametrovoy dragon Regulus killed during the First Punic War, the fangs and skin which was exhibited in Rome on display for several years, and the dragon fight with the elephant, which both are killed: the dragon's tail rings smothered elephant crushes it with his mass.

Creativity of Greek and Roman myth-makers, writers, shows the great interest to the dragons in ancient times. This interest was inherited by the European Middle Ages.

Extensive information about the dragons hold medieval bestiary — pseudoscientific treatises in which the description of the existing and imaginary animals, birds and even stones were intended to confirm the Christian dogma. Here are excerpts from an article about the dragon bestiary of XII century, which can be called a typical "Dragon — the greatest of all the snakes and all that lives on earth. When the dragon comes out of his cave and heads to the sky, the air around it ignites. He has a small mouth and a long, thin neck, and on the back — a comb. " It was also reported that the dragon — the minister and the devil, without a doubt, the death will go to hell.

However, the main source of knowledge about medieval dragons, of course, the Bible. If information about the dragon came to China with Indian Buddhism, the Europe to meet them to Christianity. It can be said that the Bible is filled with dragons, from beginning to end. In the Revelation of St. John the Divine (Apocalypse) we read: "And I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He seized the dragon, that old serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years. " Here's another passage, identifying the dragon with Satan and describes its downfall into hell: "… a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns … And his tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the ground. Dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child … And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought against them. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil and th Satan, who deceives the whole world: he was cast to the earth … "Satan, in the guise of a serpent tempted Eve to taste the forbidden fruit, brought down to hell, and in the beginning of the sacred history, and legend of the end of the world .

Mention of the dragon are not limited to Genesis and the Apocalypse. While the description of a dragon in the Apocalypse certainly coincides with the Greek mythology, the dragon is associated with the Old Testament more ancient Middle Eastern tradition, in which the common theme of the deity, to kill the monster, to give rise to life on Earth. In translating the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek confusion occurred as a result of a dragon in the Bible is often referred to the fact that in the original Hebrew it was not, and vice versa.

Thus, the error of translators, called the Dragon jackal, has generated widespread in the medieval belief that the habitat dragon — the desert. On the other hand, the obvious features of the dragon has Leviathan — the fire-breathing monster with shining eyes, that comes out of your nostrils steam.

In medieval literature, the dragon stands as a symbol of disasters and human greed. Such a description of a dragon found in ancient Anglo-Saxon epic "Beowulf." His smooth skin "disgusting color," he flies, breathes fire, the meat is poisonous. He lives in a cave in the cliff by the sea, where for 300 years guarding the treasure, upon whom the curse. After the robber tries to get the treasure and ferocious dragon begins raids on neighboring lands. Beowulf king called to free the country from the monster. His battle with the dragon is not easy. Dragon virtually invulnerable: Beowulf can not hit his skin, sword, and then completely breaks it down on the dragon's head. Only with the help of his squire Beowulf strikes the dragon in his only vulnerable spot — a small spot on the neck. Dragon defeated but exhausted battle Beowulf briefly experiencing the enemy.

Dragon — a frequent character Norwegian sagas. In them there are found nowhere else detail: many dragons begin life people, but later, because of the inordinate greed, turn into monsters guarding their wealth. This is the dragon Fafnir, killed the hero Sigurd. Before his death dragon predicts Sigurd rest of his life, including death, as a result of execution of curse on his treasure. Another well-known Scandinavian dragon — Nidhogr, who devours the roots of the tree of life. Son of the supreme god Odin — Thor kills the dragon, and he dies of wounds received in battle. Nidhogr sometimes portrayed as the guardian of peace and people from primordial chaos — a dragon, holding the tail in the mouth and surrounding lands to the body. This feature dragon guard widely used in military ornaments Vikings and in the design of their ships.

But the most famous medieval drakonoborets — Saint George. The Legend of St. George briefly as follows: the country, which is ruled by the old, the helpless king, devastating terrible dragon, demands for food boys and girls, and after the lot falls to the king's daughter, is a hero who kills the monster, marries a princess and inherits the crown , the inhabitants of the kingdom adopted Christianity. Interestingly, neither Roman nor an early Christian sources do not mention the battle of George and the Dragon, and focus on his martyrdom. Images of St. George slaying the dragon, only appeared in the XII century, when it began to associate more ancient legend. According to various versions, or George kills the dragon once (including the cross) or captivated him, and bound belt princess leads into the city, promising to kill him only after a certain number of people to convert to Christianity.

However, the victory over the dragon does not always come easy George. In XVII century book "Seven champions of Christianity" is described by its fierce battle with the monster "shining like silver, gold belly, whose skin is harder than brass." Breaking free of his lair dragon throws holy land, and the spear was thrown George, shatters into a thousand pieces. Gathering his strength, George hits the dragon sword in his stomach. The wound on the saint breaks the flow of venom, depriving him of consciousness for a while. When he came to under an orange tree, George resume battle, before looking at the sky and receive the blessing. He thrusts his sword to the hilt in the sand dragon, where skin is not as strong, so that the sword Ascalon goes through "the heart, liver, bone and blood," the dragon. From the blood of the dragon all the grass in the area turns red. St. George decapitates the monster and thank Almighty God for help.

George, of course, is not the only Christian saint, who defeated the dragon. This feat is attributed to St Philip, Leonard, Matthew, Sylvester and many others. Dragons, opposing saints seem horrible monsters, but the victory over them is reached, usually easy, which is an allegory of the Christian teaching that godliness easily wins vice. Thus, St. Donat kills the dragon, spitting into his mouth, and Old Norse holy Gutmund throws enemy prayer and holy water.

Battle dragons repeatedly described in the legends of the adventures of King Arthur and his knights. Sir Tristan, who killed the dragon and brought as a trophy of his tongue King Mark of Cornwall, Isolde gets a wife. Dragon, which is fighting Sir Lancelot comes out of tombs, which is inscribed the prediction of the battle with the dragon and win Lancelot. Arthur himself sees in his prophetic dreams battle dragons of different colors symbolizing the real enemy. And Sir Uther becomes king by the dragon, descended from the heavens.

Since the beginning of the Renaissance dragon practically disappears from the literature. Although in his writings it is mentioned Shakespeare, Milton, Browning and others, the dragon for centuries ceases to be one of the major literary figures. In Samuel Johnson's Dictionary, published in 1755, reads: "The dragon — a winged snake species may fictional, often appears in medieval romances." The word "may" confirm the fact that in the XVIII century, attempts to find a dragon among animals still did not stop, but after it had consolidated the label "attribute of the Middle Ages."

Dragon again become popular only in the XIX century, mainly due to the increased interest in folk tales and myths. About dragons write English poet Tennyson and German writers storytellers Brothers Grimm. By this time, are the first attempts to study the image of a dragon in the old European traditions and legends.

In the children's literature of the XX century, there are new features of the dragon — it often appears quite mild. A typical example of a new dragon is a polite and friendly Lazy Dragon from the eponymous book by Kenneth Grahame. Despite the fact that he is endowed with all the basic characteristics of a classic dragon — claws, long tail and fire spewing from his mouth, he was good-natured and not like a "messenger of chaos." He likes to tell stories, write poems and reminisce about the "good old days, when the dragons were carried out in abundance, and in general have a better life." Saint George comes to him in a comic battle that no one gets wound. The story ends with the fact that George, the dragon and the inhabitants of the nearby town gather for dinner, where the dragon is behaving very politely, and becomes the soul of the company. The tale of Irwin Shapiro, "Jonathan and the Dragon" residents had unsuccessfully tried various ways to get rid of the dragon. This continues as long as the boy Jonathan gets on his back and whispers in his ear, "Mr. Dragon, if you please get out of here."

Much more interesting are the dragons of JRR Tolkien. Description dragon Smaug and his death in "The Hobbit" resemble the classic scene from "Beowulf" and Norwegian "Ed." Smaug is not only keen eyesight, but excellent hearing and sense of smell. Dwarfs decide to seize the treasure dragon and kill him with an arrow that has fallen into his only vulnerable spot — under the wing. Dead dragon drowning in Lake Esgarot. Tolkien remains true to the traditions of Old English: the treasure dragon imposed curse, and they bring misfortune dwarfs and people who master them out of greed. In "The Silmarillion" Tolkien develops its own mythology of dragons. "Fire Dragon" Uruloki were created by Morgoth to fight their enemies — dwarfs and people.

Dragons made a mark in the arts. Frightening images of dragons applied to the shields of the ancient Greek warriors. Sculptures of dragons guards can be seen in Buddhist temples and Christian churches. Dragon coiled about — a common element of Celtic and Scandinavian ornaments. St. George's victory over the dragon — a favorite subject of icons and paintings of the Middle Ages. As a symbol of strength and courage dragon was often used in the coats of arms of noble lords and royal families.

The dragon did not go unnoticed in our day. In 1981, Walt Disney released the video game "The wrestler with the dragon." Dragons appear in the film version of "Conan the Barbarian" and "Legends of King Arthur." They are filled with fantastic stories. What makes the human race at the end of XX century again refer to the most ancient of fictional images? The answer to this question, perhaps, is fairly straightforward: the fantasy and myth — the only necessity of human existence. If this is true, then the dragon is destined to live long.

Category: Mystery and Mysticism

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