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Monday, 9 December 2013

Is There Some Truth to Dragon Myths?

The Dragon of Boeotia
The Dragons of Abas the Abominable

Greek Mythology
The Dragon of Boeotia
(Monsters of Mythology Series)
Bernard Evslin
Chelsea House, New York: 1987

The Story

The story constructed from pieces in Greek mythology of the Dragon of Boeotia and Cadmus the dragon slayer is related. Many other famous characters from Greek myth, including Zeus, the Three Fates, Prometheus, and Arachne are introduced.

The Dragon of Boeotia was once an ambitious and cruel prince named Abas, crown prince of Eleusis. For mocking Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest, he was turned into a helpless lizard. When the Three Fates recommended him to be the destruction of mankind, he was turned into the fierce king of dragons by feasting on the shoulder bone of the buried Uranus. This flesh fed and nurished Abas who became the king of all dragons.

Cadmus, prince of Phoenicia, received instructions and help from Prometheus and the Smith God Hephaestus, on the quest to slay this dragon. The weak and peaceful prince used the reflection from the shield of Abas himself for a surprise attack and the dragon was so taken aback that he gasped -- which means he swallowed his own firing breath. That's the end of the dragon.

However, the teeth of the dragon were planted by Cadmus and soon grew into a giant army of soldiers. Before Cadmus died by the attack of these dragon-men, he realized his real mission of life: to capture sounds and make a written language, the Cadmean alphabet.

Is There Some Truth to Dragon Myths?
by Brian Thomas, M.S. *

Harry Potter fans are looking forward to the boy wizard’s next screen adventure, when Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince opens this month. Pottermania broke loose when J. K. Rowling’s first book appeared on bookstands in 1997, prompting the creation of films, fan websites, and dozens of similarly themed books. Rowling’s world of wizardry has even inspired the name of a dinosaur fossil, Dracorex hogwartsia. But serious researchers are seeing evidence that dragons were more than just fantastical creatures.

Adrienne Mayor, a Stanford visiting scholar, has found solid links between certain dinosaur fossils and dragons—enough information, in fact, for her to write three books on the subject. Mayor was consulted in 2008 by the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, which built a dragon exhibit that presented some of her research.

Legends of dragons have existed throughout the world and across many, if not all, ancient cultures. Mayor believes that these tales emerged from ancient imaginings of what fossil dinosaurs would have looked like in life. In her view, if ancient people had unearthed a fossil that looked like Dracorex hogwartsia, it is easy to speculate that they would have come up with dragon stories to explain it.
Dracorex “surprised the scientists” when it was discovered because of its long muzzle and spiky horns. In a Stanford University press release, Mayor stated, “The skull looks strangely familiar to anyone who has studied dragons! Dracorex has a remarkable resemblance to the dragons of ancient China and medieval Europe.”
Dracorex is apparently a one-of-a-kind fossil that was uncovered in North America, not China or Europe. So how did the ancient Chinese, Australian aboriginal, Egyptian, Babylonian, Welsh, and so many other cultures come up with such robust dragon lore if the fossils that fueled their fancies were so rare and located on the other side of the world?
There are other reasons to doubt that dragon legends arose from fossil-based speculations. Tales of dragons are almost universal and were incorporated into the historical background of virtually every people group on every continent.3 How could so many different cultures conjure up such similar details in their dragon legends, unless their ancestors actually encountered them?

It would be easily explained if humans had actually seen living dinosaurs. The book of Job in the Bible records one such event. God spoke to a troubled Job, “Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee…he moveth his tail like a cedar.”4 However, if this and so many other accounts are to be taken at face value, it would jeopardize the scientific consensus that dinosaurs and humans did not live at the same time. Thus, one of the main reasons to reject these voluminous accounts of encounters with real dragons is the presupposition of a separate dinosaur age.

Over a decade ago, a creation scientist wrote, “The creation model of origins makes many predictions, one of them being that evidence will be found that tells us that in the recent past, dinosaurs and man have co-existed.”2 Indeed, evidence continues to fulfill this prediction.5 Whereas most of the Harry Potter world is grounded firmly in fancy, the concept that certain “strangely familiar”1 dragon-looking dinosaurs existed with humans has a broad foundation in history.

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