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Myths and legends


A dragonA dragon In many myths and legends, dragons are fire-breathing, lizard-like creatures with scaly bodies, bat-like wings, four legs, a spiny back and a long tail with an arrowhead at its tip. Heroes slay them in battles of good over evil. Because of their reputation for fierceness, dragons were seen as symbols of military might by both the Romans and the Celts (to this day the dragon appears on the flag of Wales, a Celtic nation). A dragon is slain by Beowulf, a Norse warrior, in a story dating from Anglo-Saxon times. In Chinese legends, however, dragons are symbols of happiness, good fortune and wealth.

Dragons in the ancient world

Roman mosaic of a dragonRoman mosaic of a dragonIn ancient Egyptian mythology, the dragon Apophis was the enemy of Re, the sun god. In ancient Greek mythology, the god Apollo fought the dragon Python, which guarded the oracle at Delphi. Dragons are also mentioned in the Bible: the Book of Revelation describes Satan as "a great dragon, flaming red with seven heads and ten horns”. 

The word “dragon” comes derived from the Latin word draco, itself taken directly from the Greek word for a giant sea serpent. There is a constellation of that name.

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