--- In firstname.lastname@example.org
, João Simões Lopes Filho
> What is the origin of Medieval dragons? These dragons are like
giant snakes or lizards, but with claws, ears, horns, like a
composite animal. Greek Draco:n (<derk- "to see"), like Kadmos' foe
or Python or Ladon, was a giant snake. Medieval dragons' head
sometimes remind lion, horse or dog. This dog/snake trait is presente
in some Greek monsters like Kerberos, Orthros and Hydra (described as
having a dog-body). Chinese dragons are thought to be phantastic
depictions of South Asian crocodyles.
> Why Dragons became so popular in Medieval Europe? Oriental origin?
> Joao SL
I've been puzzling over this one and I haven't come up with an answer
that I like much. The dragon is such a wide-spread concept that it
doesn't surprise me that it is hard to pin down. I think one
possibility could be Mesopotamian and Anatolian composite monsters.
For instance, what about the chimera? Lion/Snake/Goat, fire-
breathing, slain by hero. The myth may be Greek as we know it, but
the Chimera lived in Anatolian Lycia. Of course, we don't see a lot
of goat characteristics in dragons(possibly the horn), and the goat
component seemed to be pretty important in the case of Chimera(I have
heard that an etymology of chimera is she-goat. Is this believable?).
Bellerophon killed the chimera by shooting it with metal arrows that
melted in its mouth, a familiar element in dragon stories.
As far as Greek myth goes,Ladon and the dragon that Jason killed
guarded treasure, another Medieval motif. Interesting to note that
the treasure was in a tree-Recalling Midgard serpent and Genesis.
Perhaps an eclectic blend of Greek and Near Eastern motifs?