Why Dragons Were the #1 Medieval Monster

While medieval tales had ghosts and werewolves and other assorted monsters, the dragon dominated the stories of good vs. evil. We know how St. George slew a dragon. Dragons factored in quite a few Arthurian legends, and Arthur's surname was Pendragon. Quite a few of the fairy tales passed down from medieval Europe involved dragons in one way or another. It was a monster understood by everyone, even though no one had ever seen one in the flesh.

But stories of dragons in the medieval era were not concocted just for thrills. They were fables, intended to drive home moral absolutes. Dragons were a threat, but virtuous and heroic man could defeat them. More often, though, it was a religious and devout hero who was required to slay the dragon. Dragons were metaphors for devils, demons, and sin itself. Read about the proliferation of dragons in medieval Europe, or in the literature at least, at Smithsonian. The article does not address the preponderance of dragons in Asian legends.


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