Dragon & Snake: Differences & Similarities
of reading - words
Have faith... Do you remember these few sweet words spoken by Kaa, the hypnotist snake in the cartoon in the Jungle Book?
If you too feel bewitched just by reading these few words, it's because the snakes have done their job.
Snakes are, for the most part, extremely dangerous reptiles. They are man-eaters and capable of deadly bites. And worse, they produce fantastic creatures much more terrible, like the dragon.
Come on, don't be afraid and take your courage to read the rest of this article. You will discover in 5 points the differences and commonalities between these two fascinating creatures.
1. The dragon, a flying snake?
The snake is a reptile that has existed since the creation of the world.
Originally, it looked more like a lizard. Over time, he lost his legs and got used to crawling. If the snake has been able to survive through the ages, it is thanks to its formidable adaptability. Some snakes are able to glide, move underwater or swallow much larger prey.
The dragon, on the other hand, appeared in Africa as early as the Paleolithic. Depending on the civilization, this imaginary reptile looks like a dinosaur or snake.
In Asia, for example, the dragon has the body of a snake very clearly. And even if it is not winged, it has the ability to fly thanks to the crest, present on its skull.
2. The snake and the dragon: two evil creatures in the West
Present on all continents, dragons and snakes are creatures that feed many legends.
In the West, dragons and snakes have a very bad reputation. They are evil creatures that men fear, and that Gods and heroes fight.
The European dragon has wings and lives in caves or underground dens, just like snakes.
Still in the West, the etymology of the words used to designate the dragon often refers to the snake. Thus, in Old High German, the word würm means dragon and snake. In Latin, draco refers to a snake-shaped crown or a small snake.
3. Symbols of power and luck in the East
On the contrary, in the East, the snake and the dragon do not have the same meaning as in the West. They are powerful creatures linked to nature, especially water.
Indeed, for example, the Chinese dragon lives near bodies of water: rivers, lakes, seas... it does not spit fire, but can invoke rain.
The Chinese dragon is composed of at least 9 different animal elements. He borrows his long, winding body from the snake.
In China, as in many Asian countries, the dragon symbolizes luck and wisdom. The dragon is a very popular creature in China. You will find it under many representations: from clothes to temples.
Thus, dragons are an integral part of the founding myths of this civilization and are the founders of the Chinese dynasties.
4. Representations of the snake and dragon throughout history
Whether in the West or in the East, the figures of the snake and the dragon have been part of daily life for thousands of years. The dragon has been present in legends and stories since the Paleolithic period.
In Greek mythology, dragons are represented as gigantic or multi-headed snakes. Moreover, these two mortal creatures are often confused.
In Europe, dragons and snakes are extremely feared. In the Bible, the snake symbolizes evil and the popular expression "to be a viper's language" is not a compliment.
In Africa, and in Egypt in particular, a snake that bites its tail symbolizes the cycle of life: the seasons, life, death...
In Asia, the dragon is shown as a symbol of power and luck. The motif is present on the Emperor's ceremonial clothing in temples... It is also one of the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac. And, often the long word (Chinese dragon) is used in the composition of a name.
5. Famous snakes and dragons
Dragons and snakes have populated the collective imagination for thousands of years. Some of them have made a particular impact on people's minds.
One of the first dragons to make history is undoubtedly Python. It is a dragon from Greek mythology, originally represented as a snake, son of Gaia, the Earth. Apollo killed this creature with his arrows for revenge, because Python had attacked his mother while she was pregnant with God and her twin sister.
The sea monster Leviathan also made a strong impression. Present in several passages of the Bible, it is described as a snake or a dragon. It is gigantic and has several heads.
While in Asia, the dragon and snake symbolize power and wisdom, in the West, these creatures still have a bad reputation. This is evident in current narratives: Kaa, the snake in the Jungle Book, is manipulative.