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Folklore Virtual Special Issue: Dragons

Introduced by Dr Juliette Wood

From Fafnir to Smaug, to the pearl-chasing Chinese long and the dragons that stalk the world of Internet games, these mythical creatures, whether traditional or literary, carry great symbolic value. The mound-dwelling, fire-breathing dragon in Beowulf belongs to a group of mythical beasts known throughout the world. J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth novels have influenced the perception of dragons as winged, fire-breathing, reptilian quadrupeds, but, as so often with mythical animals, they come in many forms. Some are wingless, legless, or multi-headed, while the popular heraldic beast, the wyvern, has two legs, wings, and a serpentine tail. The names reveal something of their heritage. ‘Dragon’ comes from the Greek drakon (a large serpent). ‘Wyvern’ is derived from the Latin for viper (vipera), and the Germanic word, wyrm, is cognate with Latin vermis (worm).

    Editor Jessica Hemming and Book Reviews Editor Juliette Wood have brought together a range of articles from Folklore in this Virtual Special Issue. In the podcast introduction, Juliette Wood examines dragon lore in various contexts, but focuses mainly on traditions about dragons in Britain and Europe, as well as the ways in which this dynamic tradition has influenced folktales.

Listen to Dr Wood's exploration of the theme and read the selected articles for free today.

Further Reading

Article Title Author Volume Issue
Prince Mohammad, Fereydun, Thraētaona, and Trita Āptya: Themes and Connections in Persian Narratives Mehri Bagheri 112 2
Snake and Dragon Lore of Japan F. J. Daniels 71 3
An Interpretation of a Lisu Tale Paul Durrenberger 89 1
The Sussex Serpent Jeremy Harte 105 1-2
Some West Sussex Superstitions Lingering in 1868 Charlotte Latham 1 1
Dragons and Big Cats George Monger 103 2
Men, Saints, or Dragons? David S. Reese 87 1
Sussex Local Legends Jacqueline Simpson 84 3