of the future are of course just speculation. But since it is part
of the T Rex Museum mission statement to study this subject we will
present it here. Is it possible that reptiles could ever evolve
into something we would call a dragon? Well, they do appear to come
under the heading imagination. Some would disagree and say they
came from our past and that is as may be. But as a museum we would
rather explore them under the heading imaginary reptiles. And a
good way to start is to look at some of the folklore written about
How about dinosaurs and humans living together in
a land outside time. The talented author and painter James Gurney
has a delightful world called Dinotopia which we will explore shortly.
There has been a surprisingly large amount of information
on dragons preserved in either oral or written form as far back
as mankind has kept records of any kind. In fact there is so much
information that we are going to break it up geographically to manage
His is by no means encyclopedic and much more will
be added as time goes by. Most stories have multiple versions and
all tend to go on at great length so are summarized here for the
sake of space. This is a good start on the subject of what earlier
civilizations recorded on dragons. We estimate that we will have
to add 10 times what is here to cover all the know dragon historical
of Mesopotamian Dragons
Let's first look some of the earlier stories about
Dragons. The very first "written" stories (that we have
uncovered so far) on the creation of the world is from the Sumerian
civilization generally in the area we call Mesopotamia. This area
which later became Persia and then part of various Middle East civilization
is generally found between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in what
is now Iraq and Iran.
The actual word "dragon" comes from the
Greek language much later than this time so any mundane interpretation
of creatures by this name before the Greeks must be by descriptions
and attributes and not by name. They were generally considered "monsters"
even if they had divine attributes.
The very origins and foundations of the entire Mesopotamian
culture comes from the stories, culture, and ethics of these Sumerians.
The later civilizations of the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians,
and then Grecians all got much of their philosophy, cosmology, and
religion from the earlier stories/ myths of the Sumerians so it
behooves us to first look at these early very early stories and
pay particular attention to them..
In fact so many of the stories sprout the same type
of general story line that we can actually divide them into two
categories; Gods versus monsters (dragons) before creation and heros
versus monsters after creation. Later versions of the stories often
change the names of the parties about but maintain the basic story
line. Is it possible that all these stories came from a single source
and was later simply adapted, adopted, and some elements changed
to suit the civilization telling it? This is a possibility to be
considered about these first stories. Many later dragon stories
will also be changed in the same manner by different areas or countries
but with the same original tale.
The earlier myths often have a god, usually a storm
god or a god armed with thunder and lightning bolts, chasing a dragon
that has something to do with water. Examples are almost all of
the Mesopotamian stories, the Indian god Indra, both Chinese and
Japanese myths, the Mayan Rain Gods, the Egyptian sea dragon/serpent
Apophis and pursuer Re, and even many early Semitic stories.
From the very start Dragons were seen as guarding
treasures, holding back the floods, and dispensing knowledge. They
also are battled by gods or heroes from the very beginning. In many
cases stories from the Sumerians were borrowed and slightly changed
by the preceding civilizations. These same stories were very similar
in content but with the actual names of the participants changed.
The first written commentary, found on clay tablets,
uses the names of Asag, a monster/dragon (sometimes named as Kur)
and Ninurta, a god/hero. Later we are introduced to this same god/hero
as Marduk by the Babylonians and the dragons name has been changed
to Tiamet. There is some confusion here as the preserved evidence
is not in good shape or complete.
In the Babylonian version called the "Enuma elish"
Tiamet is one of the original pair of god and goddess at the founding
of the universe. From these two all later creatures, good or bad,
came into creation. This Goddess is in effect the "mother of
In the beginning of the tale Tiamet defends her offspring
and all of creation from all the minions and forces of evil. But
later, when her husband Apsu is killed, she apparently goes mad
and decides to end all creation in her grief. This irrational action
pits her against all the other Gods and one of her offspring, named
Marduk, is talked into opposing her.
In the fight that ensues Marduk finally kills her
by shooting an arrow into her mouth as she tries to swallow him.
She is a shape shifter as most or all early Dragons are assumed
to be so fought him in different guises. Even time seems to be effect
which will come up again in the dragons versions. After the battle
he uses her dragon body to form the earth and from death we have
life and substance.
The first epic of the hero or human and dragon encounter
is the "Epic of Gilgamesh." This we know of by clay tablets
from Semitic origin. But these tablets are telling about much earlier
versions of the story. Here the hero is pitted against a Dragon
named Humbaba who also has shape shifting abilities. Gilgamesh with
the aid of the god Shamash finally kills the Dragon but gets in
trouble with those other gods who were friends with or supported
the Dragon and so has a pyrrhic victory and some penalties for his
action are imposed.
Not much later we find the Egyptians with a similar
story of either Re the sun god or Seth the hero destroying the snake
or Dragon named Apophis. Again there is much confusion and contradictions.
In this story both the side of good and the side of evil have attributes
of the dragon. So once again we see the idea that the winner of
the contest with the dragon take on the attributes of the dragon.
The Hittites have a story of the battle of a storm
god with the Dragon named Illuyankas which also has contradictions
and different versions but also follows the earlier stories in general
Later on we get several versions from the Grecian
civilization. There is the story of Zeus fighting Typhon. Typhon
is described as "Up from his shoulders there grew a hundred
snake heads, those of a dreaded dragon." We will deal with
the relationship between snakes and dragons a little latter. But
suffice for now to say they are essentially the same. And again
this monster/dragon is slain by a mighty thunderbolt from Zeus.
Very similar to this is the story of Apollo and Python.
Python is alternately described in different versions of the story
as a giant snake or a female dragon with many coils. In any case
in some versions she is killed by Apollo when the young god shoots
an arrow down her throat. But in other version she is taken into
his service and becomes a protected oracular serpent at Delphi.
It is interesting to note that both Grecian and Romans had serpents
or dragons that were kept at various temples including Delphi that
were considered to have great knowledge.
It is also interesting that Hercules himself consulted
the Oracle of Delphi and was directed on his "12 labors"
by the advice he got their. Included in his labors were the destroying
of the dragons Ladon and Hydra of the Seven heads.
A good example of another Greek hero is Perseus who
instead of fighting for good versus evil killed a dragon that was
about to devour the princess Andromeda in order to marry her and
gain a kingdom. The dragon was sent by the god Poseidon or Neptune
to avenge an insult.
Another hero dragonslayer was Jason who along with
his companions the Argonauts had to overcome the unsleeping "dragon
of a thousand coils" who guarded the golden fleece. In one
version the dragon is ensorcelled into sleeping and they stole away
unharmed with the treasure. In another Jason fought the dragon who
was a sea dragon and lost the fight and so was swallowed. it was
only by intersession of the god Athene that the dragon gave up her
An interesting story related to Jason is that of Cadmus
who later went on to be the King of Thebes. He was also given advice
by the Oracle of Delphi (who was herself a dragon) that eventually
led him to fight and kill a golden crested dragon at the spring
of Ares. For killing this dragon Cadmus was forced to serve the
god Ares for a year but was then allowed to found his city from
the children of the dragons teeth.
History of Eastern Dragons
It has been often said that the finding of dinosaur
bones by ancient Chinese was the original basis for their "dragon"
stories and myths. In reality there is no definitive proof that
this is so. It does seem to make sense as large bones from an unknown
large creature (i.e. dinosaurs) would cause a superstitious people
to believe in large mythical beast such as dragons.
But this story actually appears to belong to the category
of “folklore”, rather than anthropology. The Chinese were a highly
civilized peoples and had definite ideas on Dragons which were studied,
written about, and philosophized on as if they were rather common
creatures to these peoples. This is an attribute that often pervades
dragons stories worldwide; offhanded casual acceptance of their
presence but debate on what it meant.
The reality in ancient China actually appears to be
that Dragons were believed in for far longer than peasants were
finding large petrified bones. Some of the earliest writings from
the Far East mention Dragons, long before it was reported that bones
from this creature were found.
In many early mythologies from Asia we find Dragons
as either God's or messengers to the God's. Again like in earlier
Mideast stories the Dragons are most often associated with water
and wisdom. But unlike the Mideast and later European stories we
find little to no fighting and killing of or between Dragons &
Gods or normal people and Dragons.
Instead of fear and loathing or even outright worship,
here we find Dragons as being desirable to an area and good luck
rather than ill falls to those areas where dragons abide. They are
often prayed to for deliverance from bad fortune, bad weather, and
even bad men. In fact, very early in China's history the emperors
are said to be communing with the Dragons to get the advice of the
Gods on how to govern their peoples. But somewhere along the way
One very widespread story is of the Dragon Kings.
They were known as the Four Brothers when they traveled together.
All were water dragons and served the August Personage Jade who
commanded them when, where and how much rain to deliver to the earth.
Each lived in a Crystal palace and ruled one of the
Four Seas via an army of crabs and fish, watchman, and ministers.
Their names were Ao Ch’in, Ao Jun, Ao Kuang, and Ao Shun. There
is no indication that these kings directly communicated with mundane
humans. But their ministers, who are presumably all dragons, apparently
In Chinese society individualism was strongly discouraged
for most of their history. Instead, one was to subjugate ones will
to the gods or their representatives including the authorities in
power. And that power usually started with the emperor. The emperor
himself was to have received his authority and blessings from the
heavens and used it for the betterment of all the peoples. But how
often in our human histories was this arraignment going to last...
Originally it was believed that the dragons were the
ones who talked directly to the Gods. The Emperor was given the
God's will for his people and he in turned passed on this message
to the people through his growing bureaucracy. In this way the Emperor
was seen to be sitting on the throne by the will of the Gods and
thus divine himself as long as he passed on the god's will as spoken
As time went on the Emperors apparently decided to
cut the Imperial Dragons out of the deal and claimed to be able
to communicate directly with the God's. Of course to protect this
monopoly no one but the Emperor was allowed to try and communicate
with the Dragons.
This is a subtle but definite indication of the strength
of the belief that dragons did exist and needed to be communicated
with. Otherwise there would have been no reason to give the “no
communication” decree and the harsh follow up with strict enforcement.
At this point the Imperial Dragons were said to have
5 claws and other lessor Dragon's 4 or even 3 claws. It was now
death to try and "communicate with an imperial Dragon."
But there were still those who did not believe that the emperor
was the only one who should be allowed to gain wisdom by talking
to the wisest of the God's messengers, the Dragons.
There are more than a few stories from the Far East
about various men who sought out this draconic source of wisdom.
But to try and discredit them the Imperial court called them "four-men"
or those who talked to less than Imperial Dragons. The implication
was that only the Emperor could talk to a real messenger from the
Later on these same individuals who learned and used
dragon wisdom became derided as Foemen. But all of these outlawed
individuals seeking out Dragons were supposed to prove their worth
to talk to these wise creatures by helping out villagers against
bandits or oppressive bureaucrats and such.
The tales told of these dragon inspired warriors were
very much like the quests and deeds done by the much later heros
and the Knights of the Round Table.
JAPANESE DRAGON TALE
The Japanese also had Dragon Kings. One of these was
named Rinjin or Ryujin. Like the Chinese Dragon Kings he also had
a palace under the sea. Like many other dragon stories this one
has several versions. In one case it is about his queen and octopus
and in another it is about his daughter and jellyfish.
In the more popular version the jellyfish was a handsome
creature with strong bones, ornate fins, and walked on four feet.
The princess had a craving for monkey liver and Rinjin liking to
spoil his only daughter sent the jellyfish out to acquire one monkey.
To oblige his king the jellyfish found a monkey and
invited him to dine at the kings palace. The monkey agreed but on
the way back seeing that the monkey was a fine creature confessed
why the king really wanted him.
The monkey said that it was alright but that he had
left his liver in a special jar at home and would go and fetch it.
Eventually it became apparent that the monkey wasn’t coming back
and the jellyfish returned to the Dragon King and told his story.
In his rage for the incompetence shown the Dragon
beat the jelly fish into a pulp and exiled him from his palace.
That is why to this day jellyfish are in the shape they are in.
KOREAN DRAGON TALE
The Koreans also had their very own dragon kings as
did the Vietnamese. According to the Chinese their “true dragons”
had five claws. All others had 4 or 3. Japanese dragons were said
to have 4 claws while Korean and Vietnamese dragons had 3.
VIETNAMESE DRAGON TALE
A Vietnamese story of the Dragonkings starts when
a kindly man named Slowcoach finds a cute little animal named Cibet.
But his mean brother in jealousy kills the little critter who is
then buried under a tree.
Every time that Slowcoach visits the grave silver
rains down on him. This does not get missed by the brother who also
goes to the grave only to be rained on by mud.
In anger he cuts down the tree and leaves. Slowcoach
decides to use the fallen tree so shapes it into a food trough for
his pigs. They of course do marvelously well and this also is noticed
by the brother who burns the trough.
Only a little piece of wood escapes the fire and this
is fashioned into a fish hook by the gentle Slowcoach. But when
he puts the hook into the lake the water raises, the pole and line
disappear into this turbulence, the waves and almost drown him.
Out of the water walks a beautiful woman who says she is the dragon
kings daughter and that the hook is caught in her fathers mouth.
Slowcoach agrees too free it and she turns him into
a bubble and takes him to her father. The fish hook removed the
dragon king rewards him with a bottle containing a little blue fish.
After returning home with his reward which he sits
next to his bed life goes on. But one day Slowcoach realized that
every time he left his home and came back afterwards it was cleaned.
To solve this mystery he came back unexpectedly one day and caught
the little blue fish turning into the dragon kings beautiful daughter
and cleaning the house.
In order to keep her there forever Slowcoach broke
the bottle and asked her to marry him. She agree on the condition
that he make her some bones which he did. They lived happily ever
As a side note the jealous brother wanting to also
get a beautiful wife jumped into the lake in search of the dragon
king, but knowing him for what he was the dragon king turned him
into a fish. And that was the last anyone saw him except that Slowcoach
seemed to spend a lot more time fishing when he wasn’t with his
JAPANESE DRAGON TALE
Another Japanese story tells of a dragon named OGoncho
who lives in a deep but small fissure lake not far from the Kyoto
castle named Ukisima. The area of Japan where the white dragon lives
is called Yama-shiro and is reputed to be a former home of some
demi-god. Every half century the dragon changes into a golden bird
and flies around. If anyone hears this bird calling it is a warning
that famine will soon be upon the land.
INDIA DRAGON TALE
From the Indian subcontinent comes multiple stories
of the serpent-dragon named Vitra. He was said to have absorbed
the cosmic waters from the universe and coiled around a great mountain.
In order to bring water to both the gods and the humans Indra battled
this dragon and proved victorious when he used his thunderbolts
to kill this monster and released the waters of life for all.
This tale is very much like several of the Mesopotamian
stories and Vitra is sometimes described as the personification
of winter. When winter is killed by the Gods water is released in
the spring. The name Vitara is sometimes used in place of Vitra
but often this is a completely separate dragon.
ISLAND OF BORNEO DRAGON TALE
Another interesting tale comes from the Island of
Borneo about a dragon named Kinabalu. He lived at the summit of
a mountain of his name. He was the possessor of a fabled pearl of
immense size. The Emperor of China heard about the pearl and sent
an army to get it for him but the dragon killed all but a few. These
survivors return and told the emperor about the disaster and said
he could not be overcome by strength of arms. So the emperor sent
his two clever sons named Wee San and Wee Ping to get the pearl.
Wee Ping could not find any way to get the pearl but
his brother came up with an idea. When the dragon went away to hunt
for food they would steal the pearl and replace it with an identical
The first part of the plan worked as Wee San used
a kite to get to the top of the Mountain to steal and replace the
pearl. Unfortunately Kinabalu was not fooled and went after the
two sons who were sailing away in a large junk with the real pearl.
A fight ensued and Wee San ordered the sailors to
heat up a cannon ball red hot and shoot it at the fast approaching
dragon. The dragon thinking it was the pearl swallowed it and in
doing so was killed and fell into the sea.
Upon arriving home in China Wee Ping lied to his father
about who had actually succored the pearl and was given palaces
and rewards. Rather than fighting with his older brother Wee San
left his homeland and went back to Borneo where because of his good
deeds and wisdom eventually became a king.
The lying brother Wee Ping did not get to enjoy his
rewards as he was either punished by the Gods or else there was
a curse on the possessor of the stolen dragon pearl. Nothing but
sadness and misery befell Ping and he died a broken and poor man.
INDIA DRAGON TALE
Another tale from the Orient is of one of the only
Dragons ever to be converted to a human religion. This Dragon was
named Apalala and lived in the Swat river. Supposedly this young
dragon was converted by the Buddha himself. He then went around
teaching others until he tried it with other dragons who drove him
away but allowed him to continue teaching the humans which is why
dragons were here in the first place.
HAWAIIAN DRAGON STORY
From the islands of Hawaii come stories of the mother
of all dragons called MO-O-INANEA. She is know as the “self reliant”
dragon and not much is known of her other than all others come from
her. The natives are very reluctant to talk about this dragon and
some speculate she may still be around and is being protected by
AUSTRALIAN & NEW ZEALAND DRAGONS
From the Island of New Zealand Polynesians comes a
story of a dragon monster (called a taniwha) by the name of Hotu-puku.
It seems that travelers going between Rotorua and Taupo started
Thinking that neighboring war parties were responsible
these people sent out their own war band. At a place called Kapenga
they instead encountered the dragon Hotu-puku and were attacked.
During the fight several warriors were killed and eaten and the
war band had to flee.
Organizing a new dragon hunting party was a man named
Pitaka. His plan was to hang a noose across a trail and using himself
as bait. The plan worked and when Hotu-puku tried to grab the man
he was caught in the rope and strangled.
Just to be sure this was the right dragon the party
cut open the dragon and sure enough founds the remains of the earlier
victims. These victims were buried and then the dragon was roasted
For his bravery and daring Pitaka became known as a taniwha expert
and was rewarded as well as in great demand. His next exploits come
at a place called Te Awan-hou where a fierce sea dragon named Peke-haua
This dragon lived in a deep water filled lair called
Te Waro-uri and could not be easily approached. For this adventure
Pitaka used some companions and some magic. He descended alone into
the watery lair and tied a magic vine onto the dragon while he slept.
He then escaped up to his fellow dragon hunters. Other magic vines
and traps were set above the dragon and then he was hauled unceremoniously
up out of his home and in the fighting became further entangled
and then finally killed. This ended the second adventure of our
Next Pitaka went to a place called Kataore near Rotorue
in Tiki-tapu. Here some disgruntled villagers told him they were
being preyed on by a dragon that had been named Kataore by other
This proved to be a simple execution as the dragon
did not flee when the group approached it and it was easily killed.
Unfortunately this dragon was actually the pet and friend of chief
Tangaroa-mihi and he immediately set of after Pitaka and party and
chased them out of the area while killed some of the so called dragon
slayers in this battle. This was the last we heard of about Pitaka
the dragon slayer.
Perhaps the most famous of the European dragons is
the tale of St. George's dragon. There are two versions of the incident.
The first was told by the frightened villagers and appears to be
somewhat of a cover-up.
In it a dragon appears at the village of Cappadocia
and threatens to destroy the region. In fear they first feed off
the villages sheep and then finally start feeding the maidens via
a lottery until only the princess is left.
She is tied to a stake and this is when George came
by and killed the dragon. But there is another version that was
first repressed by the villagers. But as the older people died their
children started telling a different tale.
In this version a dragon moved into the region as
often happens when they are driven out by a more powerful dragon
or are young ones looking for a territory. Being used to catching
and eating whatever he can this dragon starts first with deer and
wild game but then discovers the easy pickings the farm animals
in the area are.
No people are bothered but eventually someone (no
one remembers exactly who) comes up with a plan to feed the relatively
tame dragon at a certain place and at a certain time with the villagers
sheep. The idea appears to make this a more predictable dragon.
Not knowing knowing any better the intelligent but inexperienced
dragon goes along with the plan. Then as he grows he needs even
more sheep to fuel his growing body. Eventually this growing young
dragon finishes all the available sheep and comes into this now
small town and starts looking around for some food.
This same bright individual (likely having only sons)
who came up with the sheep plan now comes up with a lottery for
feeding off the unmarried maidens in the town. Since after sheep
they were the most expendable asset the town agreed to the plan.
Unfortunately the town had no idea how much food
a dragon needs and how protective of his hunting territory he could
become and eventually the princess was the only maiden left. So
she went out in her turn to the sacrificial pole. Here St. George
came along and rather than slay the young and ignorant beastie lectures
him on the evils of eating people and the values of christianity
in general. He and the princess then put the tame but confused dragon
on a rope and lead him back to the town where he is officially converted
to christianity, leaves the area, and troubles the town no more.
AUSTRIAN DRAGON BELIEFS
An interesting and almost “Asian” philosophy on dragons
seemed to pervade the Rhine River areas of Austria. Here there were
many tales told of the “Butz” which was a goblinesk creature and
the “Nachtvolk” which we would call elves. But dragons were in another
category altogether. They were not considered supernatural but rather
simply an unwanted part of nature like wolves, bears, and mountain
There are portions of manuscripts found in the area
of Vorarlbeg (Western Austria) that mentions them in the same breath
as losing a sheep to a pack of wolves. It appears they occasionally
took a horse, cow, or some sheep but were rather shy about confronting
mankind and were thus never seriously feared or hunted.
They were discussed in conclaves of the nobles and
determined to be “no threat to the cities and castles” and thus
it was though better to leave them to the occasional wandering wise-men
and scholars just like in China and Asia. In short they were just
another hazard faced by people living in the area but not to be
FRENCH DRAGON TALE
Tarasque was said to be a dragon of a different kind.
She was reputed to be the daughter of Onachus (a giant serpent)
and Leviathan (a water dragon). She came from the sea up the river
Rhone and decided to make her home in Southern France. In size she
was said to be bigger than 12 elephants, with teeth as large as
swords, scales harder than iron, and with a fiery breath.
Here she settled and was said to terrorize the region for many years.
Many knights and heros attempted to kill her. She was , however,
too powerful and destroyed or drove off all that came against her.
After seven years had gone by a farmer found her
skin with nothing left inside it and everyone rejoiced that she
had died. But she was a reptile and every 7 years had to shed her
skin so quickly reappeared bigger and meaner than ever.
After putting up with her another seven years the
villagers tried to lure her into a swamp and to her death, but she
refused to be so tricked and destroyed all the remaining bridges
in the area in her anger.
Finally, after twenty one years of failure St. Martha
was traveling in the area and heard about the villagers plight.
She went out to face the dragoness alone in a white dress and armed
only with her faith and a jar of holy water. Apparently that was
enough as she led Tarasque back to the town where the now docile
and trusting creature was hacked to pieces.
In honor of the event a church was build in Martha’s
honor and the town was renamed Tarascon.
GERMAN DRAGON TALE
The village of Brand was a remote village in Germany
in a mountainous valley. One day a dragon appeared and began eating
the villagers cattle and performing mischief toward the poor villagers.
Every effort to destroy this dragon ended in failure.
Finally a traveling scholar arrived at Brand and
was told of the creature. Warning them that the cure could be as
devastating as the dragon this personage gave them the choice of
a water or fire to be rid of their nemesis. They chose the water.
The next evening the skies boiled with thunderstorms
and the fiercest storm in memory descended on the mountains above
the village. At about midnight the storm had increased to a veritable
tempest and the whole hillside where the dragon dwelt collapsed.
He could be seen outlined in lightning still attempting to stay
above the landslide until a massive bolt of electricity struck him
and he disappeared into the muddy torrent.
In the morning the valley at its end was completely
covered in a landslide of rocks, trees, giant boulders, and mud.
Of the dragon there was never again a sight and the area became
known as the “dragons grave.” The scholar was also never seen again.
NORSE DRAGON TALE
A famous Norse story was of the dragon Fafnir and
Sigurd the dragonslayer. As usual with dragon tales there are several
versions of the story. This one starts with the telling of the order
of the world and the great serpent Nidhogger which lives at the
foot of the tree of life Yggdrasil. Of his kind come the dragons.
But the Norse believe that a dragon can be a state of mind also
and this tale explores the evils of the human condition.
Once there were two brothers named Regin and Fafnir.
They were dwarves. Fafnir was recruited by the gods to kill an enemy
of the gods Otter. Having done so he was rewarded by an immense
hord of gold. But Fafnir's excessive delight and greed for this
gold slowly turned him into a great dragon.
The brother Regin wanted this gold and so persuaded Sigurd (also
called Siegfried in some tales) to kill this evil dragon. Together
they dug a hole and as Fafnir walked across it Sigurd stuck his
sword into the dragon’s unprotected belly and killed him.
It was apparently good luck to eat of certain parts
of the dragon and so after Regin cut out the dead creatures heart
Sigurd cooked it. As he was taking the heart out of the fire Sigurd
burned his fingers and put them into his mouth. The dragons heart
had magical properties and even this little taste of the heart allowed
the hero to understand the speech of the birds.
The birds told Sigurd that Regin was planning on
killing him and take all the gold so the hero loaded all the treasure
onto his horse and rode away.
Other versions have the dragon giving the treasure
to Sigurd for his nobility and honesty and departing in peace. It
is likely that other versions were made into the story of Drachenstein.
EUROPEAN DRAGON TALE (SEVERAL VERSIONS)
Another of the many stories having to do with the
power of dragon parts and dragon blood is that of the Wilser dragon.
The town of Wilser has a village named Helvetia near it. In this
area a dragon came and was playing the usual havoc they apparently
can when undupervised by the gods.
The town magistrate approached a convicted murderer
and said that if he killed the dragon his banishment would be lifted.
The man was called Winckelriedt and he was handy with a sword and
so he agreed. In the ensuing fight the dragon was killed, but as
the victor caused his sword to be raised in triumph the blood trickled
down onto him and he died immediately.
GERMAN DRAGON TALE
There is a village in Germany called Bezau that apparently
has had more than one run in with dragons. In the first tale there
was once a very prosperous farm on a hill named Jolerbuhel. One
day a beggar came asking for a little money or food. The farmer
did not approve of begging so drove him scornfully away.
The stranger shouted back that the stingy farmer
was going to be sorry and that he was going to bring back something
for the farmer shortly to prove it. The sky suddenly turned dark
and black and a cascade of water and debris suddenly came down the
nearby creek. In the middle of the flow was the beggar leading a
large dragon on a red cord.
As the farmer stood and watched in astonishment the
flow of boulders, trees, and mud was being herded toward him by
the dragons deft tail. In a matter of minutes the rich farm was
destroyed and all within killed by the fraging debris.
Next the stranger took the dragons red cord and led
him through the village of Bezau and out the other side never to
be seen again.
In the next tale there is also a lake no more than
an hours stroll from Bezau. There has always been a legend that
there was a large dragon who made the lake his home. The lake is
very deep and no one had ever found out exactly how deep it really
One day several of the braver youths of the area
decided to become heros and find out the exact depth. In the middle
of the lake they attempted to fathom the lake bottom . But they
changed their minds when a low booming voice said “If thou fathomst
me, I will devour thee.”
No one to this day has ever tried to measure the
depth of this enchanted dragon lake. This is true even though another
story of this same dragon says that he guards a fabulous hord and
most believe it is at the bottom of the lake.
ENGLISH DRAGON TALE
There is a deep cleft in the ground in Sussex England
named after the dragon who had resided there. His name was Knucker
and he was reputed to do the usual mischief that most European Dragons
are said to do. In short he wasn’t wanted by the locals.
As usual there are several versions of how he was
killed. One is the tried and worn one of the king offering the princess
to anyone capable of killing this dragon. And eventually some knight
prevailed, killed the dragon and got his reward.
The other two versions are interesting in that they
both involved locals poisoning Knucker. One had a local farmer’s
son named Jim Pulk who put poison in a pie that the dragon ate and
then died. And of course reusing a classic theme the boy then also
died from sucking on his hands and forgetting there was still poison
The third version is that the Mayor of the closest
city named Arundel offered a reward and a man named Jim Puttock
accepted. In this tale Jim put some poison in some pudding and then
when confronted by Knucker talked him into trying the pudding. According
to an article in the Sussex County Magazine Jim lived to a ripe
old age after killing the dragon.
EUROPEAN DRAGON TALE
An ancient Teutonic myth of unknown origins tells
the tale of The Black Worm which is another name for a dragon. In
this tale the Black was discovered sleeping on a hoard of gold when
discovered by a local couple. Since the gold pile was immense the
dragon could not quite curl all the around it and this man took
advantage of that fact to climb up and pick out choice pieces.
But after grabbing all he could he got greedy and
called to his female companion to come up and get her share. Unfortunately
this noise woke the dragon and he roared his wrath at their thievery.
The man threw down his ill gotten gains and fled. Looking back over
his shoulder he saw the dragon and the gold sink out of sight into
the ground, never more to be seen.
GERMAN DRAGON TALE
Another ancient German tale is about a hoard left
by a scholar under three large boulders. Scholars were often believed
to be magical and found in or near the company of dragons.
Atop these boulders was another large rock now called
the Galina gorge outcrop. Shepherds used to shelter from the heat
or rain under this rock. The story tells of a young shepherd boy
who kept finding pieces of silver and gold under them. Eventually
the boys father found out and surmised that they were part of the
scholars hoard which was now guarded by a dragon.
Going to collect this hoard and climbing under the
three boulders the father suddenly encountered a terrible thunderstorm.
He escaped but the three boulders were buried until only the large
rock on top was left flat on the ground.
Locals still believe that someday there will be another
great storm with lightning, terrible winds, and water. Whoever is
brave enough to be waiting on the bridge below will become heir
to this hord as the dragon leaves.
IRISH DRAGON TALE
The most famous of the dragons of Ireland went by
the name of Ollipeist. The story goes that when St. Patrick came
to Ireland the first thing he did was rid the island of snakes.
But then he turned his attention to the dragons and started imprisoning
them. Knowing his fate if he stayed Ollipeist fled the country and
in so doing left his mark with his tail in what is now called the
EUROPEAN DRAGON TALE
On the Island of Largo was a ruler by the name of
Ypocras. Somehow he angered an unnamed goddess who turned his beautiful
daughter into a fierce looking dragon. But still her people loved
her and called her “The lady of the land” and her father built her
a cave inside her former castle.
It was said that if any hero was brave enough to
kiss her on the mouth she would revert to the beautiful princess
once more. Many would be heros came calling but all went away in
fear and died miserably shortly thereafter. The lady is still waiting
for her true love.
GERMAN DRAGON TALE
The German village of Sonntag was a prosperous mountain
village until one day a dragon appeared. The death and destruction
to the region was typical of dragon stories told at this time. Nobody
could kill or drive the dragon away.
But one day a Venediger appeared, befriended the
dragon and rode away with him. A Venediger was the German word for
supernatural being and could be a dwarf or goblin with a love for
crystals and rare minerals. It is also the word for the rock merchants
from the city of Venice so it was either a small Venician or a dwarf,
both with a love of crystals and dragons.
NORSE DRAGON TALE
There are many stories told of Jormungand by the Norse
people. He is said to be the offspring of the god of mischief Loki
and his bride Angurboda. He is also called the Midgard serpent who
lives in the sea and is so long that he encircles the whole planet
and has swallowed his own tail. This is why he is also prominent
in their stories as the World Serpent. There are to many stories
and versions to tell here. But they are another example of dragon
and serpent stories told at this time.
GERMAN DRAGON TALE OF NOTE
The city of Heidelburg has always had a love affair
with dragons unlike most other parts of Europe. For much of the
early middle ages this city seemed to be the very epicenter of friendly
Dragon eggs were first found in the Neckar river
nereby. When incubated in the home and raised properly they were
grew into loyal protectors of the hearth of the home. The dragons
all had the ability to breath fire and so were especially loved
by the local blacksmiths who produced the finest steel in the region
because of their reptile helpers.
The males of this larger species could fly and a
few of the especially brave of the city residents actually became
dragon riders. The female dragons were more water lovers and often
helped the fishermen. The females were also said to be highly intelligent
and some could converse in the human tongues which made them very
popular with the scholars and wise-women who would spend much time
learning philosophy from them.
In addition to the big dragons there was a race of
dwarf flying dragons who nested in the warm hillsides near the city.
They were very popular with the city dwellers who did not have the
room of the country residents and farmers. AQ small dragon would
be a better asset to an apartment dweller than their larger cousins.
All this happy interactions and love affair between
the people of Heidelburg and the dragons came to an end when the
christian church moved into the area and the clergymen convinced
the people that dragons were actually the offspring of the creatures
of hell. When they were turned away from and even killed by their
former friends the dragons saddly all left the area and were not
seen again. Many in Heidelburg wish they would come back and festivals
commemorate this ancient friendship.
AUSTRIAN DRAGON TALE
In the Austrian capitol of Innsbruck of the province
of Tyrol was a narrow gorge carved by the Sill river. The Sill ran
through a mountain forest that was shunned by the locals because
of the rumors of a dragon living there guarding a huge horde of
The locals knew this was true because after floods
they would find pieces of the dragons hord washed out of his lair
by the high waters.
Problems arose when the dragon found out that some
of his gold was missing and went on a rampage to find where it was.
He would destroy fields, farms, orchards, and houses until he found
his missing gold. No one could stand against the dragon and the
region became impoverished and desolate.
A nobleman of royal birth by the name of Haymo lived
some distance away but heard of the cities plight. He was a giant
of a man standing some 12 feet in height. He gathered up his armor
and weapons and came searching for the dragon. When he found the
creature the battle began.
The tide quickly turned against the dragon and he fled to the refuge
of his cave in the forest. But Haymo pursued his foe into his very
lair and after a fierce struggle killed the dragon and cut out his
tongue to bring back to the waiting locals.
Upon seeing this proof the locals asked their new
hero to become their leader and he accepted. Many more adventures
befell this dragonslayer but in later years he regretted all the
killing he had to do and founded the monastery of Wilten on the
spot where he had killed the dragon years earlier.
EUROPEAN DRAGON TALE
Another dragonslayer was St. Margaret. She lived in
Antiochia and the story says that she converted to christianity
and was then tempted by the governor Olybrius who wanted her as
wife. She was imprisoned in a tower and tortured when she refused
She was also tortured and tempted by satan who finally
sent a dragon against her. But she was strong in her belief in the
Lord and made the sign of the cross over the dragon and he was killed.
After this the governor lost patience with this christian virgin
and dragonslayer and had her beheaded. This is still another example
of stories that show dragonslayers have a short life after killing
SWITZERLAND DRAGON TALE
This is the story of St. Magnus and his exploits against
dragonkind. As a historical figure Magnus is known to have been
born between 1698 and 1702 and is variously claimed by the Irish,
Romans, and Alemannians. He died sometime between 1750 and 1772.
With some companions he traveled into the then pagan
or neo pagan areas of Southern Germany where he constantly battled
on behalf of his christian beliefs. He was credited with founding
several notable churches and monasteries.
Magnus had his first encounter with a dragon at the
city of Kempton. This city was originally founded by the Roman’s
around the time of Christ but over the intervening years became
a battleground for beliefs. It was repeatedly conquered and occupied
by both pagan and christian armies only to be lost again. It was
certainly an interesting place to live in if you liked war.
When Magnus came to the city it was said to be empty
of men and filled with dragons and snakes. Against his companions
advice he decided to sleep in the open just outside the city and
was predictably attacked that evening by the dragon (worm) Boas.
Calling on the power of his God Magnus was able to kill this powerful
boss dragon and chase the rest of them out of the city. The humans
moved back in right after this of course.
His next encounter was in a valley called the Rosshaupten
on his way to the city of Fussen. Here he had to pass by a dragon
who allowed no one to leave his valley unmolested unless he was
out hunting. This dragon lived in a cave next to a beautiful apple
tree. Everything else was said to be bare and desolate because of
the dragons wrath.
Trusting again in his God Magnus walked up to the
lair and challenged the beast. The dragon rushed out to eat this
impudent holy man whereupon the human tossed resin and pitch into
the dragons mouth which erupted in flame and burned the creature
The local version of this is that magnus and his
companion Tozzo built a monastery on this very spot. But the official
church version is that the monastery was built at Waltenhofen a
mile further up the valley from the dragon slaying.
Interestingly many other villages in the area claimed
to have had dragons that were driven off by this saint as well.
The village of Ronsberg was one of these. Here it was claimed that
three dragons were ransacking the area. One of the locals was a
sorcerer and he had succeeded in convincing these dragons to spare
the village and instead raid the other areas.
This they did until nothing was left standing or
alive except Ronsberg where they turned their attention to once
more. Before the sorcerer could again negotiate with the dragons
they killed and ate him. The villagers offered the dragons a cow
which held them long enough for them to bring Magnus to the village.
He brought with him a tribe of bears that he had
tamed and set them on the dragons. Outnumbered the dragons tried
to get back to their lairs but eventually they were burned out and
destroyed by the saint and his tame bears.
In still another story Magnus killed a family of dragons
but spared the young one because he was innocent of the crimes of
his older relatives. The villagers raised the young dragon and fed
him on mice and rats.
In return as the dragon grew he helped to clear the
forest of logs and rocks. He even cut the trees into lumber for
the locals. As he continued grow he cleared snow from the fields
and even helped build new roads. But he was constantly hungry.
The local villagers refused to feed him anything
other than the vermin he could catch and so one night he stole a
calf for food. Maddened the villagers attempted to kill him in his
sleep. One of the villagers cut him with an ax and a stream of milk
shot from the wound.
This was by far the best milk ever tasted and so
the locals tried to make amends to their dragon. But he would have
nothing to do with them and left the area and never came back.
A RUSSIAN DRAGON TALE
This the story about a well regarded and handsome
hero named Dobrynja who lived with his mother who was very wise.
He always had to listened to her sage advice on just about everything.
That may explain why he was always going off on quests and such.
She especially counseled him never to bath in the river several
hours away from their home as it was home to a terrible dragon who
killed or imprisoned everyone who went into the river.
One hot summer day the hero was riding near this
same river and forgetting his mothers warning decided to take a
cool bath. Taking of his weapons and armor he left them on his horse
as he strolled leisurely into the river to cool off.
He now remembered his mothers words that the rivers
first wave would spit fire, the second sparks, and the third wave
would bring steam. But everything seemed peaceful and calm.
Suddenly the sky turned black and a three headed
dragon with seven tails flew down at him saying “I am Gorynytch.
It was prophesied that a hero named Dobrynja would be my death,
but instead I see a naked fish in my river that I think I will eat.”
To escape the hero swam under the water and out of
sight of the dragon until he reached the shore where he had left
his weapons. Exiting the waters he discovered the horse and all
his possessions had disappeared and the dragon was waiting.
Flames came from one dragon head, steam came from
another, and sulfur was thick in the air. Looking around in his
helpless condition the hero saw only his helmet was still here so
he knelt down beside it. The dragon thinking he was begging for
his life did not immediately strike.
In this short interval the hero had filled the helmet
with sand and rock and then jumped up and swung it so mightily that
one of the heads was knocked off and the dragon fell to the shore
Gorynytch now begged for his life. But not for himself
so much as for his own hatchlings who would starve if he was killed.
The noble hearted hero felt sorry for the dragon and gave him his
parole provided he never again attacked him and the creature agreed.
The dragon had other things in mind now however,
and immediately flew up North to the city of Kiev and kidnapped
the High Duke Vladimir’s virgin daughter.
On his way home Dobrynja saw the dragon flying towardhis
caves with the Dukes daughter and changed his course to go straight
away to Kiev where he met with the Duke to see what had happened.
It seemed that no one had the courage to go after the Duke’s daughter
and when he was informed that the hero and the dragon were recently
seen together at the river the Duke order Dobrynja to go to “his
friend the dragon” and retrieve the girl.
Not knowing what to do the hero went home and told
his mother what had happened. His mother was very wise and sent
her son to bed to rest. That night she made a special kind of silk
whip and in the morning told the hero to go get his grandfathers
horse. He was then to go to the cave which would be unguarded and
by laying the whip to the horse the dragons younglings would be
trampled to death.
Doing what he was advised he had just destroyed the
brood before the dragon rushed in to see what was happening. Calling
the knight an oath breaker the fight was joined and the two antagonists
fought for 3 days and nights until Dobrynja remembered the whip.
Using it he soon subdued Gorynytch and then quickly cut off his
remaining two heads.
But the knight had been wounded and sorely taxed
by the fight so he bathed in the dragons blood for three days before
he recovered and used the whip to remove any poison in the blood
he was soaking in. Next he went out to search for the Dukes daughter.
One by one the hero searched eleven caves and freed
hundreds of the dragons prisoners. But it was not until the twelfth
cave that he found the virgin tied to the wall with golden chains.
He freed her and took her back to her father where the story ends
without telling us what his reward was.