Re: [tied] Re: Medieval Dragons, dog/snake, Greek Dragons

From: João Simões Lopes Filho
Message: 17574
Date: 2003-01-13

Chinese dragons could be crocodiles. It would explain the link to water and
rain. Later, they became legendary creatures, and were associated to fossil
teeth and bones. It's like the Greek mastodons, who can influenced the
legend of cyclopes (elephatine skull resemble an one-eyed giant head,
because the nostril is very large and in the center of head)

Joao SL
----- Original Message -----
From: Glen Gordon <glengordon01@...>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, January 10, 2003 4:12 PM
Subject: Re: [tied] Re: Medieval Dragons, dog/snake, Greek Dragons

> Torsten:
> >When Sundaland perished in volcanic eruptions, the dragons in panic
> >came out of the forest and people had to fight them too, as if it
> >wasn't bad enough already (hello, Hollywood, are you guys listening?)
> His condition is getting worse. Now on to Cort...
> Cort:
> >True, but the composite animals may have been put together in order
> >to create a fantastic monster without having to describe
> >characteristics outside of cultural experience.
> >[...]
> >OK. I do agree that the dragon and the water are probably connected.
> The latter comment negates the former, so, as I had already elaborated,
> the dragon is a symbolic, not just a fantastical or fear-inspiring,
> construct initially representing rain, and as you've discovered for
> yourself, this particular connection is too common a motif to ignore.
> I can't deny that there may have been some desire to create awe-
> inspiring creatures out of rampant imagination but this is not
> the main inspiration of these ideas. The main inspiration is from
> abstract symbolism, the one thing that us Homo Sapiens are really good
> at.
> >However, I am not in favor of reducing a mythological character to a
> >natural phenomenon like "water" or the "clouds" ala Max Muller.
> >[...]
> >I think this kind of reductionist interpretation can blind us to the
> >bigger picture.
> There's a difference between ludicrous reductionist theories that
> ignore the facts, and interpretation of mythological symbols based _on_
> the facts. All creatures, gods and icons can and SHOULD be interpreted
> if their functions and origins are to be understood properly. I don't
> think defining the dragon's initial function in the mythological cosmos
> as the "bringer of rain" is offbase at all.
> Granted, it is overlayed with millenia of new symbols that redefined its
> role in later belief systems and so you're very right to state that my
> explanation "does not explain all of the significant elements of the
> dragon myth, especially in western myth". It wasn't meant to; it was
> meant only to explain the origin of the dragon's form and function.
> However, I think we can start with the rain connection as a strong base
> and work our way out from there.
> >Couple of questions: What is up with dragons guarding sacred treasure?
> In honesty, that's a lesser connection at best and we're straying from
> the core of the dragon's original function. However, it probably stems
> all the way back to at least the Indo-Europeans. Remember that there is
> the story of the three-headed serpent stealing the cattle from the hero.
> Now replace "cattle" with "treasure" and you start to get it.
> >And by what means were they transformed into demonic hero-fodder in
> >Medieval Europe? Breathing fire?
> The later reinterpretation of dragons as demons is simple to explain
> since it stems from Christianity where the Devil deceived Eve in
> the form of a serpent in the book of Genesis. From that, the serpent
> came to be a demonic symbol in the minds of all Christians. That's
> probably one reason why there are only three Mayan codices left, thanks
> to those damn pyromaniac priests bent on converting natives to their
> silly serpentophobic cult. The Mayans were innocently using the
> serpent imagery in connection with Kukulkan, not the Devil.
> >Also, there are numerous stories of fire-breathing multi-headed ogres
> >and giants that closely resemble dragon stories. How are we to
> >explain the overlap here, if dragons are ultimately water/rain
> >symbols?
> If you speak of the Indo-European story of the three-headed serpent,
> there _is_ a connection with water as usual but yet again there are
> symbols overlayed on top of the original function.
> Actually, _that_ serpent may not be related to rain and so it's not a
> "dragon" in the true sense. I was thinking that it was probably just a
> cute little story to explain the origin of rivers. (In other words, the
> serpent is slain by the hero and we end up with a giant, slithering
> river.) The three heads are probably because of the tripartite symbolism
> of the three social castes a la Dumezil. This symbolism exists in later
> Indo-European mythologies enough to appear credible.
> Number symbolism is common in mythology. The number of heads have less
> to do with creating a fearful monster (although this may be part of it)
> and more to do with abstract symbology.
> - gLeN
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