Re: Krak and his dragon

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 9222
Date: 2001-09-08

According to the oldest recorded version of the tale (Master Vincent 1202), Krak (Vincent uses the Latinised version Gracchus) was the first known ruler of the Lekhites (Proto-Poles). He was elected king upon his return from a successful campaign in Carinthia. He codified law, issued wise edicts, and his rule was in general a prosperous one.
However, not far from the royal hall, at the foot of the Wawel Hill, there was a cave in which a fierce fire-breathing dragon known as the Holophage had its den. To appease the monster, the local residents had to feed it regularly with their cattle and sheep. To stop the depletion of livestock, Gracchus ordered his sons to destroy the dragon. The brothers first tried the standard solution (a good sword and a trusty hand), and it did not work. Then they tried a ruse, placing a lamb stuffed with sulphur near the mouth of the cave. The Holophage took the bait and died of heartburn as the stuffing caught fire in its belly. As the elder brother watched the creature expire, the younger one stabbed him in the back. The blame was pinned on the dragon. The murderer took the throne as Gracchus II after his father's death, but the fratricide was eventually exposed. Gracchus II was condemned to exile for life, while his beautiful sister Wanda, the only remaining successor to the throne, became Queen of the Lekhites. During her reign a city was established on the now dragon-free hill and named Gracchovia to commemorate Gracchus. Vincent hypothesises that Kraków (Cracovia) is a distorted by-form inspired by the croaking of the crows that had gathered to feast on the dragon's carrion.
Later writers systematically embroidered the story. Jan Dlugosz (1480) credits Krak himself with establishing Kraków and killing the dragon. He also identifies a large local tumulus (of still disputed origin, usually dated to the seventh century) as Krak's burial mound (a smaller kurgan near by is called Wanda's Mound). Sixteenth-century authors introduce a new popular character -- a cobbler named Skub or Skuba, who kills the dragon and is knighted by King Krak. Some authorities regarded him as the protoplast of the Awdaniec family, one of the most powerful clans in mediaeval Poland (actually a rare example of a genuine Scandinavian name from those parts).
Vulgarised modern versions are often circulated on the Internet, e.g.
(BTW <smok> is properly just the Polish word for "dragon", not a dragon's name)
----- Original Message -----
From: celteuskara@...
Sent: Saturday, September 08, 2001 6:58 PM
Subject: Re: Re: [tied] Re: Kraków and other enigmas

What if anything do your mythical histories say about this King Krak?