In European folklore, a dragon is a legendary creature with a serpentine shape. Its body is composed of two pairs of legs (lizard-like), membranous wings (bat-like) that stand on its back. It is also called the western dragon. The enormous beast with scaly skin, spits fire, has horns and an imposing tail. ?
The European Dragon Symbolism and meaning
The European dragon is generally associated with evil, with the main exception of Welsh folklore and modern fiction. Unlike Asian dragons, which are traditionally portrayed as benevolent creatures.
Dragon blood often has magical properties. In the opera Siegfried, it allowed Siegfried to understand the language of the forest bird. The typical European dragon protects a cave or castle full of gold and treasure and is often associated with a great hero who tries to kill it. Although it is a winged creature, the dragon is in an underground lair, a cave that identifies it as an ancient land creature. It is possible that the dragons in European mythology come from the cult of snakes found in religions around the world.
European Dragon Mythology
The European dragons that hide in the stories are powerful, evil and dangerous. In the Christian tradition, they may symbolize Satan or sin. Many of them nest in caves and guard wonderful treasures. When they are hungry, they devour livestock. The European dragon also feeds on human beings, especially young girls. In European tales, some sleep during the day and go wild at nightfall. ?
Epic poems from the Middle Ages tell of warriors and knights fighting cruel and voracious dragons. In some stories, the hero kills the mythical monster and then gains glory, fortune and honor. In others, he fails miserably and suffers a terrible death.
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Western Dragon Origin
Western dragons are thought to be descended from Roman dragons. The Roman dragons evolved from the Greek serpentine dragons, combined with the dragons of Persia, in the mixture that characterized the hybrid Greek/Eastern Hellenistic culture. The last Babylonian dragon venerated by the court of Persian Cyrus the Great, in the Hebrew account of Bel and the Dragon, probably dates from the end of the second century BC.
The Apocalypse of John (Greek and non-Roman literature) describes Satan as “a great dragon, fiery red, with seven heads and ten horns”. Much of John’s literary inspiration is of late Hebrew and Greek origin, but both John’s dragon and his Satan are more likely to have come from Persia. Perhaps our distinctions between Western and Chinese dragons are arbitrary.
European Dragon In Christianity
The European dragon is evil, it is an important symbol of the Christian faith. In verse 12:3 of Revelation, a huge red dragon with seven heads is described, whose tail sweeps a third of the stars from heaven to earth (held to be symbolic of the fall of the angels). The Latin word for a dragon is “draco“, it actually means snake and is thus related to the relationship between snakes and the devil in Christianity.
Saint George And The Dragon Story
Among the legends about European dragons are “Saint George and the Dragon“, in which a brave knight defeats a dragon that holds a princess captive. This legend may be a Christianized version of the myth of Perseus, or of the Phrygian god Sabazios on horseback who triumphs over the Chthonian serpent, but its origins are obscure.
The legend of Saint George and the dragon is well known in Italy. But other saints are depicted fighting a dragon. For example, the first bishop of the city of Forlì, named Mercurial, killed a dragon and saved Forlì. He is often depicted killing the dragon.
The European dragon appears in Catalan myths and legends, largely because Saint George (Catalon Sant Jordi) is the patron saint of Catalonia. The Catalan dragon (drac catalan) is an enormous two-legged, or rarely, four-legged snake, sometimes with a pair of wings. They can also emit a foul odor, which can make everything in its path rot. ?
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The European Dragon In The Middle Ages
In medieval symbolism, European dragons were often the symbol of apostasy and betrayal, but also of anger and envy, and symbolized in a turbulent way a great calamity. Several heads represented decadence and oppression, but also heresy. They also served as symbols of independence, leadership and strength. The colors often determined the symbolism that a dragon carried.
In the hero’s travel scheme, the dragons represented fear. European dragons are often considered to have major spiritual significance in various religions and cultures around the world. In many Eastern cultures, European dragons were, and still are in some cultures, revered as representative of the primary forces of nature and the universe.
European Dragons In Heraldry
During the Middle Ages, European dragons became popular figures in heraldry, appearing on banners, seals and other emblems of authority and military power. Holy dragon slayers adorn coins in the Christian kingdoms, but they are also found in the Islamic world.
The typical European dragon, with wings and four legs, is the second most popular symbol after Wyverne, representing wealth and power. In Great Britain, this type of image was made famous by King Arthur’s father, Uther Pendragon, who had a dragon on his crest, and also by the story of St. George and the dragon. It can be noted that even if the images of European dragons in heraldry could be positive, it did not change the general negative attitude towards the European dragon. ?
European Dragon Tattoo
A European dragon tattoo comes in a plethora of styles that reflect how deeply rooted they are in human beliefs. The creature has deep ties to many cultures around the world, from Western folklore and Middle Eastern mythologies to Asian influences.
In Europe, dragons were considered to be evil creatures that had to be killed by a noble knight. Legends of dragon and snake slayers such as Beowulf, Archangel Michael and Tristan abound. Dragon mythism appears in Judaism and Christianity in the form of a snake and killing a dragon is often interpreted as defeating the evil one. Dragon tattoos embody a variety of virtues and characteristics, including :
?Wisdom and longevity
?Strength and power
?Tranquillity, mediation and subconsciousness
?Spirituality, masculinity and prosperity
?Sexual desire and passion
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