“Dragon’s Breath” by Grzegorz Rutkowski.


a fantastic, winged monster resulting from teratomorphization of a ➚ snake. Its combined morphology features somatic elements characteristic of other animals, generally related to the chthonic powers. Commonly, these are: ➚ lion, ➚ wolf and ➚ goat. Contamination of the dragon’s form with uranic and chthonic elements (wings and serpentine body respectively) arouse from relation of the monster to heavenly and earthly waters, as well as the treasures buried in earth (see FAFNIR). Moreover it was the result of a symbolic “unity of opposites” (compare with the widespread theme of a battle of bird/eagle with snake, e.g. ➚ Garuda and ➚ Nagas; see also [1]). Fiery dragon (water versus fire or fire versus earth, see FIRE SERPENT) also follows this trend.

Dragon could be valued positively or negatively, depending on whether its uranic or chthonic qualities were emphasized. Romans made offerings to dragons in the form of golden figurines in the dragon shape [2] and regarded snake as belonging to the water, viper to the earth and dragon to the temple [3]. Relation of a dragon to the natural and supernatural symbols of fertility (as ➚ water or ➚ Demeter [4]) also allowed for the positive evaluation (compare with East Slavic tradition on formation of the Dnepr riverbed).

Emphasizing of dragon’s chthonism made it an enemy of god (mostly the ➚ Thunderer) or his heroic hypostasis in the ➚ cosmogonic duel.


[1] H o m., Il., XII, 199 ff.; [2] CIL VI, 143; 30, 866; [3] S e r v. de Verg., Aen., I, 204; [4] O v i d., Met., V, 642 ff;

E. S m i t h., The Evolution of Dragon, Manchester 1919; W. B ö l s c h e, Drachen, Sage und Naturwissenschaft, Stuttgart 1929; B. K ü r b i s, Holophagus. O smoku wawelskim i innych smokach (in group work) Ars historica. Prace z dziejów powszechnych i Polski, Poznań 1976; J. C a r p e n t e r, D. B o y d, Dragon-Houses: Euboia, Attika, Karia, „American Journal of Archaeology” 81, 1977.


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