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EGYPTIAN AND GERMAN DRAGONS.
tions in pictorial treatment, were particularly acceptable to the christian propaganda, because of the sanctity attached to them by African tribes,-a sanctity which continues to this day in many parts of that country, where to kill one of these reptiles is believed to superinduce dangerous inundations. In Semitic traditions, also, Leviathan was generally identified as a demonic crocodile, and the feat of destroying him was calculated to impress the imaginations of all varieties of people in the Southern countries for which Christianity struggled so long. This form contributed
Fig. 29.—From Albert Durer's ‘Passion.' some of its characters to the lacertine dragons which were so often painted in the Middle Ages, with what effect may be gathered from the accompanying design by Albert Durer (Fig. 29). In this loathsome creature, which seeks to prevent deliverance of the spirits in prison,' we may remark the sly and cruel eye: the præternatural vision of such monsters was still strong in the traditions of the sixteenth century. In looking at this lizardguard at the mouth of hell we may realise that it has been by some principle of psychological selection that
the reptilian kingdom gradually gained supremacy in these portrayals of the repulsive. If we compare with Fig. 29 the well-known form of the Chimæra (Fig. 30), most of us will be conscious of a sense of relief; for though the reptilian form is present in the latter, it is but an appendage-almost an ornament—to the lion. It is impossible to feel any loathing towards this spirited Trisomatos, and one may recognise in it a different animus from that which depicted the christian dragon. One was meant to
Fig. 30.—CHIMÆRA. attest the boldness of the hero who dared to assail it; the other was meant, in addition to that, to excite hatred and horror of the monster assailed. We may, therefore, find a very distinct line drawn between such forms as the Chimæra and such as the Hydra, or our conventional Dragon. The hairy inhabitants of Lycia, human or bestial, whom Bellerophon conquered, were not meant to be such an abstract expression of the evil principle in nature as the Dragon, and while they are generalised, the
THE CONVENTIONAL DRAGON.
elements included are also limited. But the Dragon, with its claws, wings, scales, barbed and coiling tail, its fiery breath, forked tongue, and frequent horns, includes the organic, inorganic, the terrestrial and atmospheric, and is the combination of harmful contrivances in nature.
Nearly all of the Dragon forms, whatever their original types and their region, are represented in the conventional monster of the European stage, which meets the popular conception. This Dragon is a masterpiece of the popular imagination, and it required many generations to give it artistic shape. Every Christmas he appears in some London pantomime, with aspect similar to that which he has worn for many ages. His body is partly green, with memories of the sea and of slime, and partly brown or dark, with lingering shadow of storm-clouds. The lightning flames still in his red eyes, and flashes from his fire-breathing mouth. The thunderbolt of Jove, the spear of Wodan, are in the barbed point of his tail. His huge wings—batlike, spiked-sum up all the mythical life of extinct Harpies and Vampyres. Spine of crocodile is on his neck, tail of the serpent, and all the jagged ridges of rocks and sharp thorns of jungles bristle around him, while the ice of glaciers and brassy glitter of sunstrokes are in his scales. He is ideal of all that is hard, obstructive, perilous, loathsome, horrible in nature: every detail of him has been seen through and vanquished by man, here or there, but in selection and combination they rise again as principles, and conspire to form one great generalisation of the forms of Painthe sum of every creature's worst.
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The pre-Munchausenite world— The Colonial Dragon-Io's journey
---Medusa-British Dragons—The Communal Dragon-Savage Saviours—A Mimac helper—The Brutal Dragon-Woman protected— The Saint of the Mikados.
THE realm of the Unknown has now, by exploration of our planet and by science, been pretty well pressed into annexation with the Unknowable. In early periods, however, unexplored lands and seas existed only in the human imagination, and men appear to have included them within the laws of analogy as slowly as their descendants so included the planets. The monstrous forms with which superstition now peoples regions of space that cannot be visited could then dwell securely in parts of the world where their existence or non-existence could not be verified. Science had not yet shown the simplicity and unity underlying the superficial varieties of nature; and though Rudolf Raspe appeared many times, and related the adventures of his Baron Munchausen in many languages, it was only a hundred years ago that he managed to raise a laugh over them. It has taken nearly another hundred to reveal the humour of Munchausenisms that relate to invisible and future worlds.
The Dragon which now haunts the imagination of a few compulsory voyagers beyond the grave originated in
PRE-MUNCHA USENITE WORLD.
speculations concerning the unseen shores of equally mythical realms, whose burning zones and frozen seas had not yet been detached from this planet to make the Inferno of another. In our section on Demonology we have considered many of these imaginary forms in detail, limiting ourselves generally to the more realistic embodiments of special obstacles. Just above that formation comes the stratum in which we find the separate features of the previous demonic fauna combining to forms which indicate the new creative power which, as we have seen, makes nature over again in its own image.
Beginning thus on the physical plane, with a view of passing to the social, political, and metaphysical arenas where man has successively met his Dragons, we may first consider the combination of terrors and perils, real and imaginary, which were confronted by the early colonist. I will venture to call this the COLONIAL DRAGON.
This form may be represented by any of those forms against which the Prometheus of Æschylus cautions Io on her way to the realm which should be called Ionia. 'When thou shalt have crossed the stream that bounds the continents to the rosy realms of the morning where the sun sets forth, . . . thou shalt reach beyond the roaring sea Cisthene's Gorgonian plains, where dwell the Phorkides, ... and hard by are their three winged sisters, the Snakehaired Gorgons, by mortals abhorred, on whom none of human race can look and live. . . . Be on thy guard against the Gryphons, sharp-fanged hounds of Jove that never bark, and against the cavalry host of one-eyed Arimaspians, dwelling on the gold-gushing fount, the stream of Pluto. Thou wilt reach a distant land, a dark tribe, near to the fount of the sun, where runs the river Æthiops.'1
1 Æsch. Prom. 790, &c. VOL. I.
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