Is there a creature in mythology or folklore more beloved than the dragon? Fairy tales, allegories, and fantasy often contain dragons of all sizes and colors. Wikipedia says that “a dragon is a legendary creature, typically with serpentine or reptilian traits, that features in the myths of many cultures.” They contend there are two main dragons: ones found in European tradition and ones found in Asian traditions.
In appearance, dragons could be compared to a flying lizard or flying snake with legs. The scales and other features often resemble those of a crocodile or some dinosaurs. Dragons have traits similar to birds or reptiles, such as flying and their young hatching from eggs. Many are said to breathe fire or be poisonous. European dragons are more often winged, while Chinese dragons resemble large snakes.
In art, dragons are a frequent theme—as symbols of sin but also as a nature force, fighting against man. Dragons have been found in stories from Europe to the Middle East to India to the Far East. People love to use dragons to represent evil against a hero fighting for good. Examples of literature containing dragons are J.R.R. Tolkien’s Silmarillion and The Hobbit, J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern. The character Eustace Scrubb is turned into a dragon in the C.S. Lewis book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. In the Bible, the book of Revelation, John on the Isle of Patmos describes Satan as a dragon. In The Neverending Story, Falkor (Fuchur in the original German version) is a luckdragon, portrayed as white, furry, and friendly. Eragon is the first novel in the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini.
Movies and television programs also love the myth of the dragon. From Smaug in The Hobbit to the Dragonheart movies to Pete’s Dragon, dragons can be ferocious, whimsical, or just plain fun. As far as television, in Avatar: The Last Airbender, dragons taught humans the art of Firebending, which is based on the dragons’ movements. Spike, the baby dragon, in My Little Pony and Spot, the dragon in The Munsters are creatures that are more like pets than monsters.
Dragons were even brought to life in an Animal Planet show, Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real. I turned this show on after missing the beginning and they had me convinced that dragons really could have existed. It’s one show that’s worth watching.
Dragons, myth or reality? There doesn’t seem to be a physical evidence to support their reality, but they live on in the minds and imaginations of people worldwide.
Do you believe?
Writing Prompt: You are making a documentary of a specific type of lizard in Australia when you come upon a newly hatched dragon. What would you do? Let your imagination flow as you jot down a few paragraphs.