NARRATOR (Clive Russell): Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know what a dragon looks like.
MUSIC: Scary, fantastical
NARRATOR: One of the most iconic—and diabolical—beasts inhabiting medieval bestiaries is the dragon. A monstrous serpent, its killing power comes from its tail, which can lash out and coil around unwitting victims and strangle them. It can even topple an elephant by knotting its body around the great beast’s legs. While the medieval dragons of Europe were to be avoided, other cultures across the world revered them.
The medieval dragons of Europe were thought to come from faraway lands like Ethiopia and India, and lived in caves and mountains. In medieval manuscripts, they are often colorful and scaly, portrayed with thrusting tongues, bat-like wings, and large claws. Some dragons are huge; some small; some long and slender; some have four legs while others have two; and only some of them breath fire. And in addition to lethal breath, some believed they could emit poisonous urine, which immediately rotted human flesh. In short, dragons were terrifying!
Most people believed that dragons, as bearers of death and misfortune, were evil. The dragon symbolized the devil, who followed sinners and pulled them down to hell. Like the devil, the dragon was always lying in wait, and the good Christian (often represented by the elephant) had to remain ever-vigilant against temptation.
The dragon still rears its head in today’s stories.