The Official Collection of Fantastical Creature Information--Updated Randomly

For all your fantastical creature needs! This is the beginning of my encyclopedia, and I'm collecting as much information as I can on various fantasy creatures. Most of my stuff can be found on wikipedia. However, no source is perfect, so the stuff that is my input is often italicized. Help me by sending me more information at Questkid13@gmail.com

Side Note: There have been concerns about my using Wikipedia because it is not a reliable resource. I am well aware of wikipedia's unreliable nature--but that's exactly why I use it. Fantasy creatures are available to all, and everyone should have a chance to add their "discoveries." This website is supposed to be a fun collection of fantastical creature information with fun images to go with. I am not a reliable source--I'm just a collector. Though at this point, I am flattered that people are concerned with the validity of my site. :)

!!!!This is NOT a forum. Comments are to be informative and generally helpful. Clean humor is acceptable, but NOT if it detracts from the entry. This site is to help people find out more about fantastical creatures!!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dragon--European

In European folklore, a dragon is a serpentine legendary creature. The dragon of the modern period is typically depicted as a huge fire-breathing, scaly and horned dinosaur-like creature, with leathery wings, with four legs and a long muscular tail. It is sometimes shown with feathered wings, crests, fiery manes, and various exotic colorations. Many dragons as extremely intelligent creatures who can talk, associated with (and sometimes in control of) powerful magic.



Etymology
The Latin word draco, as in constellation Draco, comes directly from Greek δράκων, (drákōn, gazer). Though the Latin is draco, draconis, it has been supposed by some scholars, including John Tanke of the University of Michigan, that the word dragon comes from the Old Norse draugr, which literally means a spirit who guards the burial mound of a king. How this image of a vengeful guardian spirit is related to a fire-breathing serpent is unclear. Many others assume the word dragon comes from the ancient Greek verb derkesthai, meaning "to see", referring to the dragon's legendarily keen eyesight. The word for dragon in Germanic mythology and its descendants is worm (Old English: wyrm, Old High German: wurm, Old Norse: ormr), meaning snake or serpent. In Old English wyrm means "serpent", draca means "dragon". Finnish lohikäärme means directly "salmon-snake", but the word lohi- was originally louhi- meaning crags or rocks, a "mountain snake". Though a winged creature, the dragon is generally to be found in its underground lair, a cave that identifies it as an ancient creature of earth.

Dragon Treasure
Dragons are often depicted as guarded a lair or horde filled with treasure. Although they are attracted to the shining appeal of good metalworking, the dragons don't usually collect this valuable ore for pleasure alone. Dragons drape themselves over treasure in order to absorb vital nutrients they need from from the metals. Gems often will get stuck in between their scales and add extra protection to their softer underbelly. Interestingly, it has been noted that a few dragons collect things in addition to their needed supply of gold such as stained glass, mirrors, even shoes!

Dragon's Blood
Dragon's blood often has magical properties: for example in the opera Siegfried it let Siegfried/ Sigurd understand the language of the Forest Bird. Dragon blood is so poisonous that Earth itself will refuse to absorb it. However, this could be because a dragon's blood has extreme high boiling points and remarkably low freezing points in order to resist it's own flame. It is possibly the best antifreeze material known to man, but it would be ridiculous to kill a dragon merely for its blood. When spilt, Dragon's blood may at first appear to sizzle as it reacts to the oxygen, which may account for other rumors regarding its heat, but if it isn't collected in moments, it will loose any remarkable properties it might have had.


Odd Habits
With the many observations of dragons throughout history, it has come to be known that every dragon is different and often has its own peculiar habits. Some dragons may be placated with jellybeans, while others can be enjoy the occasional riddle. A few dragons play with their human victims like cats (occasionally taking catnaps to lull their prey into a false sense of security), nd others only chew out of self-defense and never swallow. These remarkable creatures come in so many varieties that they make even humans look dull and similiar in their individuality.


Extreme Hunting
At one time, Dragons and humans lived in harmony together, sometimes becoming a terrifying force with dragon and rider. However, legends about the glory of killing a dragon spread all throughout Europe during the Medieval time periods. Unfortunately, this led to hunting dragons in unrestrained numbers and almost to their extinction. Sadly, the once numerous dragons are becoming even more rare as the human populations intrude upon dragon territory. Although they have remarkable abilities to adapt almost anywhere, it may not be enough to save them unless we fantastical experts keep the world aware of their existance.
Such murderous legends about dragons include "Saint George and the Dragon", in which a brave knight defeats a dragon holding a princess captive. However, the actual story of "Saint" George and the Dragon had been stretched and retold to the point of being ridiculous. It is more credible to believe that Saint George (as portrayed in one Welsh nationalist rendering) as an effete wally who faints at the sight of the dragon rather than a heroic individual.


Italian Dragons
The legend of Saint George and the dragon is well-known in Italy. But other Saints are depicted fighting a dragon. For instance, the first bishop of the city of Forli, named Saint Mercurialis, was said to have killed a dragon and saved Forli. So he often is depicted in the act of killing a dragon. Likewise, the first patron saint of Venice, Saint Theodore of Tyro, was a dragon-slayer, and a statue representing his slaying of the dragon still tops one of the two columns in St. Mark's square. St. Micheal, the patron saint of paratroopers. is also frequently depicted slaying a dragon. Many dragons of the european middle ages were thought to be demonic, or ressembling evil status.

Roman dragons
Roman dragons evolved from serpentine Greek ones, combined with the dragons of the Near East, in the mix that characterized the hybrid Greek/Eastern Hellenistic culture. From Babylon, the musrussu was a classic representation of a Near Eastern dragon. John's Book of Revelation — Greek literature, not Roman — describes Satan as "a great dragon, flaming red, with seven heads and ten horns". Much of John's literary inspiration is late Hebrew and Greek, but John's dragon, like his Satan, are both more likely to have come originally through the Near East. Perhaps the distinctions between dragons of western origin and Chinese dragons (q.v.) are arbitrary.


Slavic Dragons
Dragons of Slavic legends hold mixed temperaments towards humans. For example, dragons (дракон, змей, ламя) in Bulgarian mythology are either male or female, each gender having a different view of mankind. The female dragon and male dragon, often seen as brother and sister, represent different forces of agriculture. The female dragon represents harsh weather and is the destroyer of crops, the hater of mankind, and is locked in a never ending battle with her brother. The male dragon protects the humans' crops from destruction and is generally loving to humanity. Fire and water play major roles in Bulgarian dragon lore; the female has water characteristics, whilst the male is usually a fiery creature. In Bulgarian legend, dragons are three headed, winged beings with snake's bodies.
Russian Dragons
In Bulgarian, Russian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian lore, a dragon, or "змей" (Bulgarian), zmey (Russian), smok (Belarusian) zmiy (Ukrainian), is generally an evil, four-legged beast with few if any redeeming qualities. Zmeys are intelligent, but not very highly so; they often place tribute on villages or small towns, demanding maidens for food, or gold. Their number of heads ranges from one to seven or sometimes even more, with three- and seven-headed dragons being most common. The heads also regrow if cut off, unless the neck is "treated" with fire (similar to the hydra in Greek mythology but this is a rare breed of dragon, and typically, once the dragon's head has been removed it takes a very long time for it to grow one back). It's interesting fact that in the Bulgarian mythology these dragons are sometimes good, apposing to the evil Lamya /ламя/, a beast that shares a common likeness with the zmey.

Polish Dragons
The most famous Polish dragon is the Wawel Dragon or smok wawelski. It supposedly terrorized ancient Krakow and lived in caves on the Vistual river bank below the Wawel castle. According to lore based on the Book of Daniel, it was killed by a boy who offered it a sheepskin filled with sulphur and tar. After devouring it, the dragon became so thirsty that it finally exploded after drinking too much water. A metal sculpture of the Wawel Dragon is a well-known tourist sight in Kraków. It is very stylised but, to the amusement of children, noisily breathes fire every few minutes.


Germanic Dragons
The most famous dragons in Norse and Germanic legends, are: Niohoggr who gnawed at the roots of Yggdrasil or the Jormungandr the serpent wyrm which surrounds the Miðgarð the world of mortal men; The dragon encountered by Beowulf; Fafnir, who was killed by Siegfried. Fafnir turned into a wyrm dragon because of his greed.

Lindworms are monstrous serpents of Germanic myth and lore, often interchangeable with dragons. Many European stories of dragons have them guarding a treasure hoard. Both Fafnir and Beowulf's dragon guarded earthen mounds full of ancient treasure. The treasure was cursed and brought ill to those who later possessed it.


Celtic Dragons
In Britain, the dragon is now more commonly associated with Wales due to the national flag having a red dragon (Y Ddraig Goch) as its emblem and their national rugby union and rugby league teams are known as the dragons. This may originate in Arthurian Legend where Merlin, employed by Vortigern, had a vision of the red dragon (representing the Britons) and the white dragon (representing the invading Saxons) fighting beneath Dinas Emrys. The red dragon was linked with the Britons who are today represented by the Welsh, and it is believed that the white dragon refers to the Saxons who invaded Britain in the 5th and 6th centuries. This particular legend also features in the Mabinogion in the story of Llud and Llevelys.

It has also been speculated that the red dragon of Wales may have originated in the Sarmatian-influenced Draco standards carried by Late Roman cavalry, who would have been the primary defence against the Saxons. In Welsh language the word "Pennaith" means also a chieftain, apparently due to the Roman draco standards.

The Welsh flag is parti per fess Argent and Vert; a dragon Gules passant.


Basque Dragons
Herensuge is the name given to the dragon in Basque legends, meaning apparently the "third" or "last serpent". The best known legend has St. Michael descending from Heaven to kill it but only once God accepted to accompany him in person.

Sugaar, the Basque male god, is often associated with the serpent or dragon but able to take other forms as well. His name can be read as "male serpent".

Catalan Dragons
Dragons are well-known in Catalan legends, in no small part because St. George (Catalan Sant Jordi) is the patron saint of Catalonia. Like most dragons, the Catalan dragon (Catalan drac) is basically an enormous serpent with two legs, or, rarely, four, and sometimes a pair of wings. As is common elsewhere, Catalan dragons are fire-breathers, and the dragon-fire is all-consuming. Catalan dragons also can emit a fetid odor, which can rot away anything it touches.
A special thanks to Wikipedia and to the artist of this slightly stolen image--once again, I'm not sure where I got this picture :S Help me out and tell me who created it!

2 comments:

Ojalanpoika said...

Was this the Elder Wand you saught:
http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/dinosaur.htm
?

Dinotopia is not a fiction. Dinoglyfs and dinolits are not only literally described but even carved, hewn and painted all over the continents by the paleolithic man and even by the man of antiquities.

E.g. Beowulf is the oldest book written in the archaic English that still survives. Guess what? Its main figure is yet another dragon slayer, this time from our Nordic countries.

Dinoglyfs they are. Ever read the book of Job? That's Leviathan & Behemot, folks. The longest description of any animals in the whole Jewish Grammata. Besides the flying reptiles of as late a figure as Isaiah - the flying snakes were described also by the Greek father of history, Herodotos.

In Mosaic law of the Old Testament of Judaism and Christianity, there was also one species classified as both bird and a reptile:
Qetzalcoatl=tinshemet=liskolintu=Archaeopteryx=’old feather' ?

Recovering from hemorrhage in the left hemisphere of the brain,
Pauli.Ojala@gmail.com
evolutionary critic
Biochemist, drop-out
(MSci-Master of Sciing)
Helsinki, Finland

Ethenielle Teir'elenia said...

Comment to your comment.

1. I do not categorize any number of species into a general entry. Just because I haven't done them yet, doesn't mean I do not care for their individuality. Leviathans, Behemoths, Qetzalcoatl, dinoglyfs--They are different species. A leviathan is basically a form of sea dragon, an entry I do not want to cover until after I've done one on the Loch Ness. A behemoth is a massive creature that is in no form related to a dragon, yet another creature I will do later. A Qezacoatl, or feathered serpent, is a different form of dragon--one from the Americas rather than European or Asian. It is an entry I was planning to do, but still haven't gotten around to it.

2. I mentioned beowulf in the Nordic dragons already. If you're going to comment, please be thorough.

3. Thank you for your help, but I really would prefer it if you added something a little more useful than saying how historicly true something is and flashing around your 'biochemist dropout.'