A dragon is a legendary creature, typically scaled or fire-spewing and with serpentine, reptilian or avian traits, that features in the myths of many cultures around world. The two most well-known cultural traditions of dragon are
- The Western dragon, derived from Western European folk traditions such as Roman, then later Welsh,Germanic, Nordic and Asturian that became popular in the Middle Ages in French and English romances. Most are depicted as reptilian creatures with animal-level intelligence, and are uniquely six-limbed (four legs and a separate set of wings).
- The Chinese dragon, with counterparts in Japan (namely the Japanese dragon), Korea and other East Asian and South Asian countries. Most are depicted as benevolent serpentine creatures with above-average intelligence, and are quadrupeds (four legs and wingless).
The two traditions may have evolved separately, but have influenced each other to a certain extent, particularly with the cross-cultural contact of recent centuries (since Marco Polo) . The English word dragon and Latin word draco derives from Greek δράκων (drákōn), "dragon, serpent of huge size, water-snake". While not as common as in many other myths and legends, several dragons play prominent roles in Arthurian myth.
Merlin's Dragon ProphecyEdit
Originally described in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia regum Britanniae, tales tell of Merlin being summoned by Vortigern to explain why his new castle kept falling down. Merlin has a vision of two dragons, a red and a white dragon, battling beneath the mountain where the keep is being built. Some interpretations have this as a prophecy, with the red dragon representing the Britons and the white dragon representing the Saxons. Other versions have the problem as literal dragons that need to be dealt with.
Several versions of the Tristan story include the hero traveling to Ireland to slay a dragon. In one, King Goram promised his daughter's hand to whoever could slay a dragon terrorizing his lands. Tristram slays the dragon to win Isolde's hand for King Mark. After slaying the creature Tristram collapses, either from previous wounds or from the dragon's venom. One of King Anguish's stewards tries to claim credit for slaying the dragon, but is exposed.
In the Prose Lancelot, Lancelot encounters a dragon in a cemetery in the land of Corbenic. Lancelot dispatches the monster and is invited by King Pelles into his castle, where the king's daughter Elaine falls in love with him.