Dragons are large, serpentine mythological creatures. These creatures appear in folktales of many cultures across the world. Today, dragons’ stories continue to capture the public's imagination in books, films, and television shows, with today’s fiction dragons having been invented and reinvented to fit different people’s ideas and descriptions. Today, few people believe in the literal existence of dragons. With modern technology of satellite imagery, it is unlikely that any giant monsters inhabit the earth’s skies unseen.
Dragons are typically depicted as powerful and fearsome. Some dragons have wings while others are wingless, some can talk and breathe fire while others cannot. Additionally, some dragons are a few feet long while others span for miles. In today’s fiction, some dragons live under the ocean while other live in mountains and caves.
History of Dragons
Even though it is not clear when and where the stories of dragon first emerged, the history of dragons remains long and rich in many forms.
Dragons were described by Sumerians and Ancient Greeks. According to them, dragons were thought of as exotic animals that possessed both good and bad characteristics, sometimes being useful and protective and other times being harmful and dangerous.
In some cultures, for instance, in communities that people had no knowledge about the existence of dinosaurs, the belief in dragons was not just based on legends and other stories, but on hard evidence such as the gigantic bones that were periodically excavated from the earth.
According to scholars, the fire-breathing aspect of dragons is thought to have begun in the Middle Ages depictions of the mouth of hell. Art from the Middle Ages, such as the art by Bosch, showed the entrance to hell portrayed as the literal mouth of a monster with smoke and flames coming out of it.
Dragons in Christianity
When Christianity spread across the world, the interpretation of dragons changed to represent Satan. In fact, anything heard about dragons in the Middle Ages was probably from the Bible, with many Christians believing in the literal existence of dragons.
An example of a dragon description from the Bible is the description of Leviathan, a massive creature with the form of a sea monster described in Chapter 41 of the Book of Job and also in the books of Psalms, Isaiah, and Amos. In Christianity, godly saints and legends of righteousness are seen battling with Satan in form of dragons.
A good example in the Catholic faith is Saint George, also known as the dragon slayer. When Saint George arrives at a town endangered by a gruesome dragon, he protects himself with the sign of the cross and kills the dragon. The citizens of the town are impressed by Saint George’s rare faith and courage which prompts them to instantly convert to Christianity.