The Snake Dragon: Between Myth and Reality

snake dragon myth

Have you ever pondered why dragons dominate myth, popular culture, and fantasy? Through media like novels, movies, and video games, these amazing reptiles are popular throughout a wide range of civilizations.

Dragons, however, were already revered and feared by our predecessors during the prehistoric era; it wasn't until Game of Thrones that they rose to prominence in mythological culture.

Due to their close proximity to snakes, dragons have enjoyed enormous popularity throughout history and culture.

1) Dragon and Snake

A) Snake and Dragon: origin of a myth

snake and dragon

There have always been connections between snakes and dragons. The Latin word "draco" and the Greek word "drakon" are the origins of the word "dragon."

The Draco was a mythical creature in ancient Rome that had a wolf's head and a snake's body. Numerous Roman symbols featured the representation of this amazing beast. The Drâkon in Greek mythology were enormous snakes.

What comes to mind as soon as you think of a dragon-like creature? It's probably a snake. Dragons are frequently shown as having long necks and serpentine bodies.

Both instances clearly bear a snake-like likeness. Snakes are ideal for giving birth to a horrific fictitious monster because they may be extremely hazardous, have a sometimes ominous countenance, and sharp fangs.

Thanks to evolution, we have a dread of snakes that is ingrained in us. However, scientists have also discovered that some primates, including macaques, have extremely intense snake phobias in their brains.

This fear of snakes stems from a very straightforward principle: if you are terrified of something, you will take extra precautions not to approach it. And if it approaches you, you'll bolt away right away! When dealing with potentially lethal creatures, this is much more helpful.

It's not surprising that snakes have inspired dreadful mythical creatures like dragons given such a picture!

B) Western Dragon

western dragon

While dragons are often modeled after snakes in various civilizations, this is not always the case.

There are various ways in which the Western Dragon differs from the Eastern Dragon:

  • It has a reptilian (or even dinosaur) shape, but not necessarily a snake.
  • Often it is a Dragon with wings like those of bats.
  • It can breathe fire and has poisonous breath.
  • It can strangle large animals with its tail.
  • The European dragon has 4 legs. If it has 2 it is not a dragon but a Vouivre.
  • The western dragon often has large claws, sharp fangs and horns on its head.
  • Its scales are an impenetrable armor

In European folklore, dragons are strong, malevolent, and dangerous. Due of their ability to breathe fire, they are connected to the fire element. Dragons can represent Satan or sin in Christian faith.

Some make their homes in caves, where they keep priceless artifacts or young princesses they have abducted. When starving, they could capture and eat sheep or cattle that stray too close to their den. These amazing reptiles have the ability to consume humans, particularly young females.

Warriors, knights, and wizards battle vicious, ravenous dragons in epic poems from the Middle Ages in an effort to save a princess. In some myths, the hero slays the dragon and gains fame, respect, and the bride's hand. Others result in his failure and his death or burning.

Both the dragon and the serpent continue to be potent representations of betrayal in European culture today.

In European folklore, dragons frequently dwell in abandoned castles, bogs, and deep caves and caverns containing priceless stones. Some people nap throughout the day and become violent at night.

C) Oriental Dragon

oriental dragon

The Oriental Dragon, sometimes known as the "Chinese Dragon" is the second main type of dragon. Asian dragons, in contrast to their Western counterparts, have lengthy bodies that resemble snakes.

It still has four legs with powerful tail, fangs, and keen claws. The Chinese dragon, though capable of flight, is a Wingless Dragon.

Dragons are said to dwell at the bottom of lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water in Chinese mythology.

The earliest Chinese representation of a snake dragon dates to the fifth millennium BC! Dragons are strong, good-natured emblems that have always been part of Chinese culture.

Dragons served as ancient representations of imperial authority and the emperor himself. They also have some control over natural occurrences involving water, such as calling for rain during a drought. As a result, they are connected to the element of water.

In Asia, dragons are viewed as lucky and beneficial. They so differ greatly from the terrible, perilous, fire-breathing dragons that are common in most Western tales.

Asian dragons represent being fortunate, auspicious, strong, and noble. They can also represent longevity and are less terrifying than in myths from the West. They are still strong beings, though, and an attack on them may be disastrous.

In China today, dragons can still be found everywhere: in rituals, festivals, astrology, art, names, and fortunate charms.

2) Snake Dragon in Mythology

After learning about snake dragons, how about a survey of the most illustrious and terrifying creatures from all mythologies?

A) Leviathan

Leviathan

Leviathan is a dreadful and extremely enormous primeval creature that is mentioned in the Bible. All other sea animals were subject to him.

The origins and purposes of the creature have been described in a variety of historical accounts. But everyone acknowledges that Leviathan is hazardous and capable of inflicting havoc.

One of God's first creations, the huge sea serpent known as Leviathan is well known. Other animals with comparable strength were also produced, but Leviathan was regarded as the most hazardous of them all.

Although Leviathan can be shown in many various forms, it most frequently appears as an enormous snake.

B) The Basilisk Serpent

The Basilisk Serpent

The Basilisk, a dragon-like creature from European folklore, was occasionally shown as a massive snake emerging from the corpse of the Gorgon Medusa.

Some sources referred to it as the king of snakes and asserted that it was capable of paralyzing a person with a single glance or injecting a lethal poison whose sole remedy was a phoenix tear.

Once you locked eyes with the basilisk, you were powerless to turn away, and your demise was inevitable.

In Greco-Roman mythology, the Basilisk is referred to as a giant serpent, but in the Middle Ages, it was also described as a cross between a rooster and a serpent (the Basilicoq).

C) The Hydra of Lerna

The Hydra of Lerna

In Greek mythology, the Hydra also known as the Hydra of Lerna was the child of Typhon and Echidna. It was a massive water snake-like monster with nine heads, one of which could never die (the number fluctuates). The Lerna marshes, which are close to Argos, were the haunt of the monster.

It frequently emerged from its den to harm the people and animals of Lerna. Anyone who attempted to decapitate the Hydra discovered that after removing one head, two additional heads protruded from the open wound. In one of his 12 labors, Hercules was ultimately the one to defeat the Hydra.

Slavic legend dragons had several heads and a serpentine body, just like the Hydra.

D) Jörmungand

Jörmungand

In Norse mythology, a huge snake named Jörmungand dwells in the ocean's depths. It is the largest monster in Scandinavian mythology, which is saying something considering that Jotunheim, a land full of giants, is a part of Norse mythology! In his conflict with the beast, even the god Thor himself was unable to defeat the serpent.

Jörmungand, which translates to "necklace of soil" is a fitting name for this snake. He is so enormous that he can hold the tail's tip in his teeth like the Ouroboros and wrap his body around Midgard (Earth, the home of mortals). Its venomous teeth-lined mouth is large enough to fit a giant or a god inside of it.

E) Ladon

Ladon

In Greek mythology, Ladon is a gigantic dragon that surrounds the trees in the Garden of the Hesperides and watches over the golden apples. One hundred snake heads, each speaking a different language, are perched on his reptile torso.

This being's disproportionate stature is explained by the fact that it is one of the sons of the titans Typhon and Echidna. Hera, the goddess, gave Ladon the responsibility of watching over this legendary tree.

The Hesperides nymphs assist Ladon in completing his quest. Although he is not an evil being, he is nevertheless quite deadly. The Hesperides tree is protected by him from any intruders.

In the eleventh of his works, Heracles used a poisoned arrow to slay Ladon. Hera made Ladon go to heaven after his death as payment for his loyalty, and he later became the constellation of the dragon.

F) Nìdhögg

Nìdhögg

The enormous black serpent known as Ndhögg, also known by the Old Norse name Nhöggr, which means "He who strikes with malice," is nibbling at the third root of the Yggdrasil world tree.

The monster also consumes the bodies of murderers and adulterers. According to the Norse mythology from whence he descended, Ndhögg wants to destabilize the cosmos.

The end of the world, Ragnarök, features Ndhögg prominently. Ndhögg is mentioned as flying out from under Yggdrasil during Ragnarök in a very significant Norse poem (the Völuspá), probably to aid the giants' cause.

Other traditions claim that the advent of Ndhögg will mark the end of Ragnarök and that the dragon-serpent will take the dead soldiers' remains with it.

On the other hand, other traditions state that Ndhögg will herald the start of Ragnarök when it spreads its roots to tread the ground of Midgard.

The artifacts bearing his effigy, according to the narrative, allowed him to displace the evil serpent's evil eye out of vanity.

In order to go to Valhallah in the event of death in the battlefield (and avoid ending up in the Ndhögg's mouth! ), the Nordic warriors decorated themselves with jewels in his image, such as this silver Ndhögg necklace.

G) The Vouivres

The Vouivres

The Vouivre is an incredible hybrid of a dragon and a snake. The Latin word for it is viperae ("Viper"). It has two bat wings on top of a reptile body. A vouivre only has two legs, which sets it apart from dragons, which often have four.

One of the fiercest dragons is the fabled vouivre of medieval Europe. A vouivre has the ability to breathe fire from its mouth or nose and deadly, foul air onto its prey. Its two legs are strong enough to topple a villager's unfortunate cottage.

These dragons are the ferocious defenders of a jewel or buried treasure in European mythology.

H) Python and Apollo

Python and Apollo

In Greek mythology, the Python was a colossal serpent-dragon that presided over the Delphic oracle.

According to tradition, the twin gods Artemis and Apollo were inside the womb of the goddess Leto when she became pregnant with Zeus. Zeus's wife, Hera, was furious when she found out about her husband's adultery, though.

In order to prevent Leto from giving birth somewhere where the sun shines, she gave Python the command to chase Leto away.

On the newly created island of Delos, Leto was welcomed, and there she gave birth to her twins. When Apollo reached adulthood, he sought the dragon because he desired retribution.

Python left his home on Mount Parnassus and traveled to Delphi while being pursued by Apollo. Zeus warned Apollo that he had to atone for his sacrilegious act after he had discovered and murdered Python. Apollo established the renowned Pythian Games as a means of self-purification.

I) Bahamut

snake jewelry

In Arab cosmography, the beast known as Bahamut (also known as the Behemoth) supports the entire planet (the study of cosmic organization).

He is also thought to be the biggest beast ever produced on Earth in Hebrew mythology. He is right now underground, hiding. However, legend has it that he will make a comeback during the chaos and devastation of Judgment Day.

Bahamut is typically portrayed as an enormous, half-fish, half-snake creature in Arabic mythology. According to ancient tradition, if all the water in the world were placed inside of one of his nostrils, it would be the size of a mustard seed in the desert.

Bahamut is said to have an elephant or hippopotamus-like head in certain stories. He takes on a more hideous appearance in the Hebrew writings. This gives him the appearance of a massive crimson dragon or sea serpent with sharp limbs and teeth.

3) A Dragon Snake as a Real Animal

A) A Dragon Snake?

You are already familiar with the main dragon snakes from myth. But did you realize that such a thing exists or at least that it's almost real?

Southeast Asia is home to the non-venomous Colubrid snake species known as the dragon snake, also known as Xenodermus javanicus. Several nations, including Indonesia, Myanmar, Brunei, Malaysia, and Thailand, are home to the species.

The dragon snake is most frequently observed in woodlands, marshes, swamps, and particularly rice fields that are close to bodies of water or streams.

It is a Semi-Fossorial snake that spends the majority of its time underground and can live in galleries that it has dug. These snakes hunt at night, when they are most active.

B) A Dragon Scale Snake

Dragon Scale Snake

The unique skin of these dragon snakes is their most striking characteristic. On the back, it has three rows of "keel" scales. These scales have a crocodile-snake hybrid appearance.

Given that their scales are suggestive of dragons, it is fairly simple to see why they are frequently referred to as dragon snakes.

They have a peculiar behavior in addition to having a strange appearance. They stiffen up when touched or picked up, much like a board.

Because the species thrives poorly in captivity and typically does not survive very long, dragon snakes are considered unusual and are not kept as pets very frequently. It is generally preferable to leave them in the wild because there is so little knowledge about them and breeding tips available.

C) The mystery of the Dragon Snakes

Quite a bit is still unknown about this snake with dragon scales. According to reports, dragon snakes have a grayish appearance and can reach lengths of about 70 cm.

They have an extended tail and a somewhat larger skull. The species was initially described in 1836 by Danish biologist Johannes T. Reinhardt.

The dragon snake is the only species classified in the monotypic genus Xenodermus, which has no known subspecies.

The Greek words "xeno," which means unusual, and "derma," which means skin, are used to create the scientific name of the species, which alludes to the snakes' extraordinarily bizarre look.