How the myth of dragons has survived throughout history

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How the myth of dragons has survived throughout history

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Dragons may be a myth, but they are everywhere in our popular culture. Whether it's the dragons in Game of Thrones, Shenron in Dragon Ball or the famous Dungeons and Dragons board game, these mythological beings are absolutely everywhere. But why are these big, scary looking animals so popular?

Right now, everyone has an idea of what a dragon might look like. In general, the beast is described as an animal approaching a cross between a snake, a lizard and a dinosaur, scaly, with very large teeth, sometimes wings, and often the ability to spit flames. If dragons are currently present in a very large number of fictions, these legendary beings actually come from myths inherited from the dawn of time.

Dragons have been described by many cultures in their own way. From the mythical monster that inspired the legend as we know it today, to animals that look like dragons, as well as similar mythological beings, we will see more clearly about the omnipresence of dragons in our current culture.


Dragons appear in the mythology of many ancient cultures, but nowhere else in the world is the creature as revered as in China. In China, contrary to other global mythologies, the dragon was almost always viewed positively and was associated in particular with living rains and water sources. Considered as the sign of the most auspicious year, the image of the dragon was worn on the dresses of emperors, represented on the most precious materials, from gold jewellery to jade figurines, and in countless references in literature and the performing arts.

The dragon was omnipresent in ancient China and is emerging as a major heritage in Chinese culture. There are many stories and legends about Chinese dragons and their origin. The Chinese describe the dragon as a snake-like reptilian creature with the physical characteristics of other animals, including tiger feet, antlers and eagle claws. According to the Chinese myth, dragons were present when the world was created, and it was the goddess Nu Kua, who was herself partially a dragon, who created the Earth and the dragons.


Nu Kua designed four pillars to support the sky, placing a dragon at the top of them to support the weight of the sky. Nu Kua has also created humanity, giving the Chinese people a direct link with the dragons from the very beginning. After the creation of humanity, dragons lived alongside humans, offering them protection and advice. Legend has it that the first imperial dynasty in China had dragon blood in their veins.

No one knows for sure when the legend of the dragons began to become part of Chinese culture, but we do know that the symbol of a dragon in China appeared around 5000 years before our era. Moreover, as early as 3000 BC, when the ancient Chinese discovered dinosaur bones, they referred to their discovery as dragon bones. The legend of the dragon must also be fairly widespread in other eastern countries, especially in Korea where the myth is very similar to that of the Chinese dragon.

Unlike the Asian dragon, the Western dragon has wings and is seen as an evil creature


It is not known when or where the dragon stories emerged, but the huge flying snakes were described at least as early as the ancient Greeks and Sumerians. In Eastern and Western myths, the dragon is the symbol of chaos, a misanthropic and hostile monster that frightens humans. As mentioned above, it is mainly in East Asia that the creature has mostly positive attributes: rain bringer, good luck charm and symbol of fertility and imperial power.

In the Middle East, the oldest representations of dragons have been found on objects from the Uruk period. The first written mention of a dragon can be found in the hymn to the temple of Kes, which dates back to about 2600 BC. According to Sumerian culture, they are hybrid beings who are neither gods nor demons, but belong to their own class of supernatural beings. Their names and gestures indicate a link with the animal kingdom or with the forces of nature. They are not clearly beneficial or harmful, but they most certainly caused fear. In ancient Sumerian culture, historians refer mainly to the dragons Ningishzida and Mushussu.


In Europe, the dragon finds its origins mainly in Greek mythology. In the case of Greek dragons, they are monsters coming from the sea or living in caves. They are often huge and ugly, but rarely have wings. The most famous Greek dragons are Typhon, the Hydra of Lerne, the snake god Python, Ladon and the dragon of Thebes. In addition, the Greek word "drakon" is at the origin of the word "dragon", but drakon refers more to a large snake than to the image we have of a dragon. Of course, there are other stories telling the origin of dragons in Europe, especially from Nordic and Roman mythology.

It is also important to note that dragons are present in Christian history. The Christian Middle Ages maintain a strong bond that unites dragon and devil. In images of exorcisms, demons are often represented as small dragons that come out of the mouths of the possessed. Dragon-shaped demons also adorn the baptismal font and the cathedrals with Gothic gargoyles. According to the Christian faith, the monster represents the agony of martyrs and personifies paganism, sin and heresy. It is also from Christian history that the history of dragon hunters is derived.

The belief about dragons was based not only on legend, but also on tangible evidence, or at least that's what people thought long ago. For millennia, no one knew what to do with the giant bones sometimes found all over the world, and dragons seemed a logical choice for those who didn't know about dinosaurs. In addition, there is really an animal species that bears the name of the legendary beast, namely the Komodo dragon.


Dragons are so popular because their myth represents a remarkable being who arouses both fear and admiration. In addition, the myth of the dragon has very varied sources from one culture to another. This allows different storytellers, writers, painters and other types of artists to make the most of all the mysteries surrounding the legendary creature to produce extraordinary and particularly interesting works for the public.

In countries such as China, Japan and Korea, the dragon's popularity is explained by the fact that they are treated as divine and ancestral beings who are an integral part of the culture and history of these countries. Moreover, in these countries dragons are beings who bring blessing and luck. In some Eastern European countries, dragons are celebrated through more classical and respectful cults, festivals, and art forms than in Western countries.

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