by thefourpartland

So, this is a bit of a departure from the pieces I normally put up here. It’s a bit of curious exploration behind the life of dragons, and the cultural impact they have. Because of my background, most of these tales will be drawn from Europe.

Dragons are a universal constant. They exist in stories from Wales to China, and all the countries in between. In the Western world, whenever you open a fantasy story, bets are it will have dragons. The most famous roleplaying game of all time is called Dungeons & Dragons. The Hobbit has a dragon. Whole series are based around the premise of dragons (Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern). And yet the myths and legends that tell of the first dragons are ancient, far enough back that some of them are lost to the mists of time.

Grendel, from the old Germanic tale of Beowulf, is one of the early examples of a creature that has fallen under the title of dragon. Then there is King Arthur, and the tales of slaying a dragon. Or St. George and the Dragon. The Welsh flag is Y Ddraig Goch, “The Red Dragon”. Stories abound in Wales about dragons.

What I am curious about is where does this universal constant come from? Why are dragons so old that they disappear back before recorded time in European and Asian history? What about these giant lizards makes them so mythical and special? Is it their alien size and immense power, their wisdom, their magic? All of those are constants across cultural boundaries, but something must give dragons the special place they hold in the hearts of humanity. I’m hoping you can answer the question in the comments.