All About Dragons
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All about dragons?
What did the dragons look like? To find out, we went back several centuries, to the time when it was hard to believe that dragons existed. At the beginning of our research, we thought that all dragons had wings, claws and a reptile tail. But that is not the case. Some dragons looked more like large snakes.
Indeed, in ancient times, there was no difference between the dragon and the snake. The Greek words ophis (snake) and drákôn (dragon) were used to designate the same animal.
As for its name, it comes from the Greek "drákôn", derived from the verb "derkomai" which means "to look with intensity". It was said that the dragon had the look of the snake with fixed and transparent eyelids: a look that freezes your blood, aglaglaglaglagla.
Therefore, at that time, if no one doubts the existence of dragons, their appearance is very varied from one continent to another:
- In South America, the Giant Serpent draws the course of the rivers of the Amazon with its body.
- In North America (Mexico), Quetzalcoatl, an almighty God, is a feathered snake capable of transforming itself into winds and clouds but also into humans.
- In Europe, the Dragon is often represented as a crocodile-headed monster or lion with bat wings, snake body and eagle claws. He's pretty evil.
- In Asia (India), Apala, a dragon with human heads and legs and snake bodies, protects cities from evil dragons.
- Still in Asia, Long is a wingless oriental dragon with a snake body, camel mouth, lion's legs and eagle claws. He is a messenger between men and gods.
- In Africa (Egypt), Apophis, a giant snake sometimes winged, tries to prevent the sunrise every morning.
- In Oceania (New Zealand), Peke-Haua is a giant lizard snake that lives hidden in a bottomless spring. He eats the lost humans.
Where did they live?
Some lived in mysterious caves or in the earth like the dragons of the legend of Merlin. Others lived in the sky like many Chinese dragons. Finally, there are those who preferred to spend their time with their feet (when they had them) in the water of springs, rivers, swamps, etc.
What did they do all day?
Their occupations were rather surprising. We have classified the dragons into several categories. There was:
- Thieving dragons (St. George and the dragon): These dragons stole treasures, stole princesses, martyred the inhabitants of towns or villages. Fortunately, a hero would always end up going through that and decide to crush them to become a superhero.
- Factor dragons (Asian Dragons).
They were messengers between men and the Gods.
- Architect and gardener dragons (Tiamat, Le Serpent Géant d'Amazonie)
These dragons were there at the beginning of the world. While some were cut in half to make Heaven and Earth (Tiamat, a dragon from Iraq), the movements of other dragons on the ground shaped the landscapes or drew the course of rivers and streams (the Giant Amazonian Serpent).
- Dragon stars, friends of kings and warriors (the Chinese Imperial Dragon)
They didn't do much. Kings and warriors sought their company to enjoy their magical powers.
- The dragons guardians of treasures, of sources (Dragon of Colchis, guardian of the golden fleece).
It is said that dragons never slept. This quality was highly appreciated by those who had a treasure to protect.
- Dragons making rain and sunshine (Asian and European dragons)
They brought rain but also floods and announced the seasons, for example by spitting out foliage in the spring. They also caused moon and sun eclipses, floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions!
Well, today, we know that dragons never existed and yet I can see that several questions are burning your lips:
But then, if they never existed, how come so many people who didn't know each other could have invented such similar animals?
These imaginary dragons have similarities with animals that live on Earth. Dragons have a family resemblance with snakes like the python, but also with the crocodile or the Komodo varan which is a huge Asian lizard. But they also have common traits with dogs, eagles, camels, lions, roosters, bats, etc. Finally, dragons are an assemblage of pieces of real animals.
Why did we believe in dragons for so long?
Many people thought they saw dragons. Even Marco Polo (a famous Italian traveller) claimed to have observed some in Asia. Today, we think what he would have seen were crocodiles.
Some have even provided evidence of their claims. For example, a dragon skull was found in Mixnitz, Austria, which is actually a prehistoric bear skull. The language of another was for a long time exposed in an Austrian monastery. Today we know that it is the pointed snout of a swordfish (the rostrum). In Switzerland, a peasant even claimed to have found a magic stone lost by a dragon flying over his head!
And then until the 19th century, dinosaurs were completely ignored, so much so that it was believed that the gigantic bones of these prehistoric animals (especially those of pterodactyls) were dragon bones. Finally, everyone wanted to believe in this fabulous animal!
When did we really stop believing in it?
In 1842, Richard Owen put an end to the myth of dragons. This paleontologist gave the name "dinosaurs" (from the Greek deinos, terrible and sauros, lizard) to the fossils of gigantic animals that he had been studying for a long time. We now know that the huge fossilized bones found around the world are not those of our good old fire-eating dragons, but those of giant lizards that have been missing for millions of years!