Dragonslayers

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For other uses, see dragon slayer (disambiguation).
Saint George slaying the dragon, as depicted by Paolo Uccello, c. 1470

Dragonslayers are people who slay dragons for various reasons. Dragonslayers and the creatures they hunt have been popular in traditional stories from around the world: they are a type of story classified as type 300 in the Aarne–Thompson classification system. They continue to be popular in modern books, films, video-games and other entertainments. Dragonslayer-themed stories are also sometimes seen as having a chaoskampf theme - in which an heroic figure struggles against a monster that epitomises chaos.


A dragonslayer character is often the hero in a Princess and dragon tale. In this type of tale - the dragonslayer will kill the dragon to rescue a high-class female character from being devoured by a dragon, and she is likely then be the love interest of the tale. An example is the story of Ragnar Loðbrók killing a giant serpent, thereby saving Þóra borgarhjörtr whom he later married.

Saint George Saint George and the Dragon overcomes the dragon as part of a plot which ends with the conversion of the dragon's grateful victims to Christianity, rather than marriage to the rescued Princess character.

In Norse legend from the Völsunga saga, the dragonslayer Sigurd kills Fafnir - a dwarf who has turned into a dragon as part of a plot about a cursed ring, greed and revenge. By eating some of the dragon, Sigurd is able to understand the speech of birds, and is warned of the treachery planned by his companion, Regin[1]

Mythologists such as Joseph Campbell have argued that dragonslayer myths can be seen as a psychological metaphor:[2]

"But as Siegfried [Sigurd] learned, he must then taste the dragon blood, in order to take to himself something of that dragon power. When Siegfried has killed the dragon and tasted the blood, he hears the song of nature. he has transcended his humanity and re-associated himself with the powers of nature, which are powers of our life, and from which our minds remove us.

...Psychologically, the dragon is one's own binding of oneself to one's own ego."

[3]

Dragonslayer characters[edit]

Susanoo slaying the Yamata no Orochi, by Kuniteru
antiquity
medieval and early modern legend
Tolkien's legendarium

References[edit]

  1. ^ Byock, Jesse L. (1990). Saga of the Volsungs: The Norse Epic of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-23285-2.
  2. ^ The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyes, Anchor Books 1988 eISBN 978-0-307-79472-7
  3. ^ The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyes, Anchor Books 1988 eISBN 978-0-307-79472-7