Dragons, Serpents, and Slayers in the Classical and Early Christian Worlds: A Sourcebook

ISBN : 9780199925094

Daniel Ogden
360 ページ
186 x 257 mm

Stories about dragons, serpents, and their slayers make up a rich and varied tradition within ancient mythology and folklore. In this sourcebook, Daniel Ogden presents a comprehensive and easily accessible collection of dragon myths from Greek, Roman, and early Christian sources. Some of the dragons featured are well known: the Hydra, slain by Heracles; the Dragon of Colchis, the guardian of the golden fleece overcome by Jason and Medea; and the great sea-serpent from which Perseus rescues Andromeda. But the less well known dragons are often equally enthralling, like the Dragon of Thespiae, which Menestratus slays by feeding himself to it in armor covered in fish-hooks, or the lamias of Libya, who entice young men into their striking-range by wiggling their tails, shaped like beautiful women, at them. The texts are arranged in such a way as to allow readers to witness the continuity of and evolution in dragon stories between the Classical and Christian worlds, and to understand the genesis of saintly dragon-slaying stories of the sort now characteristically associated with St George, whose earliest dragon-fight concludes the volume. All texts, a considerable number of which have not previously been available in English, are offered in new translations and accompanied by lucid commentaries that place the source-passages into their mythical, folkloric, literary, and cultural contexts. A sampling of the ancient iconography of dragons and an appendix on dragon slaying myths from the ancient Near East and India, particularly those with a bearing upon the Greco-Roman material, are also included. This volume promises to be the most authoritative sourcebook on this perennially fascinating and influential body of ancient myth.


List of Figures
Quick Key to Some Special Terms and Conventions Used in this Book
Schema of motifs
i. The Genealogy of the Great Dragons
ii. Typhon, Slain by Zeus
iii. Python, Slain by Apollo
iv. Heracles' Dragons (i): Baby Heracles and the Dragon-pair Sent by Hera
v. Heracles' Dragons (ii): the Hydra
vi. Heracles' Dragons (iii): Ladon, the Dragon of the Hesperides
vii. Heracles' Dragons (iv): Cerberus, the Hound of Hades
viii. The Chimaera, Slain by Bellerophon
ix. Medusa, Slain by Perseus
x. Lamia, Slain by Eurybatus and Others
xi. The Dragon of Ares, Slain by Cadmus
xii. The Dragon of Nemea, Slain by the Seven against Thebes
xiii. The Dragon of Colchis, Slain or Put to Sleep by Jason and Medea
xiv. The Dragon-pair Sent against Laocoon and his Sons
xv. The Dragon of the River Bagrada, Slain by Regulus and his Army
xvi. Some Unique Dragon-slaying and Dragon-averting Narratives in Later Greek Sources
xvii. The Sea-monster of Troy, Slain by Heracles
xviii. The Sea-Serpent of Ethiopia, Slain by Perseus
xix. Scylla, Slain by Heracles and Encountered by Odysseus
xx. The Serpents of the Bible and its Apocrypha
xxi. The Dragons of the Early Hagiographical Tradition
xxii. St Philip, the Echidna and the Ophianoi
xxiii. St Silvester and the Dragon of Rome
xxiv. Saintly Tales Originating between the Fourth and Sixth Centuries AD
xxv. Saintly Tales of the Central Medieval Period
xxvi. St Patrick and St George
Appendix A: World-foundational Dragon-slaying Tales from the Ancient Near East and India
Appendix B: Germanic Dragon fights of the eighth to thirteenth centuries AD
Appendix C: A Selection of Dragon- and Serpent-slaying Tales of Folkloric Interest
List of Editions Used
Source Index
General Index


Daniel Ogden is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Exeter, UK and Research Fellow in UNISA (University of South Africa). He is the author of numerous books on the ancient world, including another sourcebook, Magic, Witchcraft and Ghosts in the Greek and Roman Worlds (2nd ed., OUP USA, 2009) and the authoritative treatment of the dragon in antiquity, Drakon: Dragon Myth and Serpent Cult in the Greek and Roman Worlds (forthcoming OUP 2013).