Dragons the famous creatures of myths and fantasy
of reading - words
An essential creature of fantasy, dragons fascinate and carry many symbols.
The fight against dragons
Gods and heroes
Wrestling or dragon hunting is as universal a theme as the Flood or the Golden Age in mythologies, because this creature is present in all. The dragon is often the ultimate goal of a quest, the crucial test to overcome in which one must surpass oneself in order to triumph. Not only because the dragon is one of the most powerful creatures there is, but also because it overcomes all the fears and anxieties that man can have.
But men are not the only ones who fear dragons, gods and heroes also fear them, because in front of them their power becomes relative. Marduk and Enlil among the Sumerians, Zeus and Apollo among the Greeks, Ra among the Egyptians, Thor among the Nordics, all these gods confronted them. Among the heroes, Gilgamesh, Cadmos, Heracles and Siegfried, for the most famous dragon killers, fought them on earth.
The origin or purpose of the fight
There are two main reasons for these confrontations: the maintenance of order for the gods, the dragon embodying Chaos and the quest for immortality for men. Often the dragon is associated with immortality and keeps its secret. However, other reasons exist in the stories such as keeping or obtaining one's throne. In any case, glory is not the only reason, because the challenge is so important that it deserves a reward commensurate with it. At least it was originally, because the heroic fantasy will often present the dragon as the guardian of a treasure, leading the hero or heroes to go and face him for glory and wealth. In any case, when the dragon retains a place, he is often its oldest resident, sometimes dating back to time immemorial. If this is not the case, then he will have made himself absolute master of the place.
If the fight against a dragon is often a key moment in the story, sometimes it is an endless fight and the one led by the god Ra is the most famous. The solar god dies every evening and fights during the whole night Apophis who has no reason but to pursue him to devour him in order to plunge the world into an eternal night. During their fight, Ra crosses the kingdom of the dead and comes back to life when he comes out announcing the day. Sometimes Apophis managed to attack Ra in broad daylight, which was associated with eclipses, but each time the god knew how to regain the advantage.
Sometimes the dragon is also associated with the water of which he becomes or is the master. Apophis during his pursuit of Ra, seized infernal waters by drinking from the river of the dead. Among the Sumerians, Tiamat is not only a dragon and a primordial marine goddess. The god Ninurta also faced a water dragon in Asag, who lives in deep sea. Very well known, the Leviathan, this biblical monster is often nicknamed the sea dragon. On the Asian side, the Kami Ryujin is a dragon god living in the ocean and controlling the tides.
If the coming of Christianity brought about the modification of certain narratives, it did not change too much the one of the dragons. The creature always remains an incarnation of evil and the heroes who will fight them do so selflessly, armed with their faith, to help the innocent and drive out evil. Saint George and Saint Michael are the two most famous.
Description and powers
Although there are several types of dragons, the classification having been done mainly with role-playing, all have common points: an immense size, wings, a mouth with sharp teeth, a tail that can sweep away opponents. Their skin is covered with very strong scales; they form a real shield that is difficult to cross.
Their main power is a gigantic fiery breath. This ability to spit fire comes from their constitution. Dragons have two stomachs: the first is for normal feeding and the second one is placed a little further forward and a little lower for spitting fire. The dragon eats grass or leaves that settle to the bottom of this stomach; forming a layer, which under the dragon's body heat produces methane gas in abundance. To spit fire out, the dragon slams his teeth (his fangs are partly metallic), which creates a spark that ignites the gas coming out of his second stomach.
In some myths, the dragon is more hybrid in shape with a feline head or body parts from other animals, but the trunk always remains snake. Thus, in the beginning, many creatures were called dragons in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, but over the centuries the form of the creature has become more precise and has become the one we know today. The distinction with other creatures was made, making it possible to distinguish them. Thus in the case of Heracles, the dragon became a hydra and many dragons became giant snakes: Apophis, Typhoon, Python and Jörmugand. In ancient myths, Fafnir, whom Siegfried fought, is one of the few who has been a true dragon since the beginning. This is not illogical, since northern mythology has served as a reference for many things in current representations.
Way of life
They lead an animal life, eat (for the most part they are carnivores, but not all of them), drink, sleep and reproduce among themselves (2 to 3 times in their lives). They communicate in draconian, a secret language of which they are the only ones to understand it...
Dragons reproduce in pairs. Males fight each other for females who are less numerous and highly sought-after; once their choice is made, the two dragons unite. A litter goes from 1 to 5 dragons, the males are responsible for their education which lasts several centuries. Once they have completed their training, the dragons that have become dragons leave the nest to find their bearings, which must be calm, isolated and practical.
From the union of two dragons of different types can be born bastard creatures. The "little one" inherits the assets of each parent and his physique is a mixture, a kind of average of the two. But a dragon can also mate with a creature of another race, and there the result is monstrous in every sense of the word.
A dragon evolves over time. He becomes more powerful, his knowledge grows. But with age, although he gained wisdom, he lost his fighting spirit.
- Literature: Epic of Gilgamesh, The Life of Saint George, Bilbo the Hobbit (J. R. R. R. Tolkien)
- Role-playing games: Dungeons and Dragons (Wizards of the Coast)
- Board games: Warhammer (Games Workshop)
- Video games: World of Warcraft (Blizzard), The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim (Bethesda), Drakengard 1 and 2 (Cavia)
- Cinema: Excalibur (J. Boorman), Endless History (W. Petersen), Dragon Heart (R. Cohen)
- Animation: Dragons 1, 2 and 3 (DreamWorks)