Saturday, March 17, 2012

Dragons in history?

Doing a little research on my next novel (which I'm going to try to have ready in September), I stumbled on this tasty little piece of "historia" by a certain St. John Damascene, as translated by a Russian reverand.

I have no idea exactly why I am drawn to this sort of thing.  I must confess that during my long quest for truth I have been truly enriched by the fruits of the constructive work of many scientists, and by the spiritual endeavour of many mystics and esotericists, and also by the moral example of many human beings of good will -- and though I owe nothing to polemics or polemicists, I have at times learnt much through them, if not from them

For instance, I owe nothing to early Christian authors who attack paganism, nor again to pagan authors who attack Christianity.  But in their vitriol they have still given me a lot in the way of objects of knowledge.

So while in the below, it can be construed that the goodly saint was exercising a mocking tone, hey, it's still pretty damn interesting...  

"I am not telling you, after all, that there are no dragons; dragons exist but they are serpents borne of other serpents. Being just born and young, they are small; but when they grow up and get mature, they become big and fat so that exceed the other serpents in length and size. It is said they grow up more than thirty cubits; as for their thickness, they get as thick as a big log. Dio the Roman (ab. 155 - ab. 236) who wrote the history of Roman empire and republic, reports the following: one day, when Regulus, a Roman consul, was fighting against Carthage, a dragon suddenly crept up and settled behind the wall of the Roman army. The Romans killed it by order of Regulus, excoriated it and sent the hide to the Roman senate. When the dragon's hide, as Dio says, was measured up by order of the senate, it happened to be, amazing, one hundred and twenty feet long, and the thickness was fitting to the length."

       "There is one more kind of dragons; those have wide head, goldish eyes and horny protuberances on the back of the head. They also have a beard [protruding] out of the throat; this kind of dragons is called "agaphodemons" and it is said they have no faces. This dragon is a sort of beasts, like the rest of the animals, for it has a beard, like a goat, and horn at the back of its head. Its eyes are big and goldish. These dragons can be both big and small. All serpent kinds are poisonous, except dragons, for they do not emit poison."