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Dragons: A Very Short History

Additional Reading

Have you seen a living, breathing dragon in person lately? Me neither. But that doesn't mean they don't exist.

The history of dragons goes back at least six thousand years, and there are dragon tales and legends from every continent except Antarctica. In some places, dragons have been considered helpful to people -- they were the national symbol of China -- but in European history, they have generally been considered to be evil, often hoarding treasure or about to devour a fair maiden. Men who succeeded in slaying one have generally been acclaimed as heroes and saints. Some famous dragon-slayers include Siegfried, Sigmund, Beowulf, Arthur, Tristram, Lancelot, Saint Michael, and Saint George.

While most people today don't worry much about dragons, until about a hundred years ago, everyone took them seriously. Sightings were reported worldwide. One dragon in France was said to kill over 3,000 people before the twelfth century.

There have been many different types of dragons and they have been reported to live in the center of the word, the middle of the ocean, in caves and other dark and damp places, and in fire. At the time of Christopher Columbus, when the world was flat (or at least people thought so), maps said "Here Be Dragons" at the edge of the world.

It may be that dragon stories partly grew out of people finding dinosaur bones. Since the concept of dinosaurs didn't come into science until the 1800s, any large fossilized bone found before then had to from a dragon, a giant, or in some parts of the world, an elephant.

Whatever the actual origins of dragon tales may be, dragons are immensely popular now. They turn up in video games, films, books, and other art forms. There are many dragon posters. Dragons have become powerful symbols of the forces that exist in our world, and of the complexities of the human spirit.

About the Author

Rosana Hart is a reference librarian turned webmaster. Visit her site at http://www.infoandhelp.com/posters/ for a selection of popular posters and articles about their subjects.


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