Welcome to Here be Dragons Day 13.
Today my thoughts are on the dragon slayers who achieved fame, fortune, and heroic status for generations.
The triumph of good over evil, of the pure in heart over the corrupt and wicked, and the acceptance of the fate the gods have set. All these elements feature in the stories of the dragon slayers.
I like to think of them as the bardic star feature, the poet’s gut grabbing tale, or the musician’s ballad to silence the halls.
Courage, tragedy, and love haunt these tales.
The dragon slayer is part of many cultures over many centuries. I have chosen two to consider.
The first dragon slayer I have chosen is the only female one I could find. Margaret of Antioch also known as Saint Marina.
This legend is about two thousand years old. The story takes place in Antioch, at the time part of the Roman Empire. The heroine Margaret, born to a wealthy family, was nursed and tutored by a pious Christian woman. Margaret became Christian and dedicated her virginity to God.
Her infuriated father renounced her as she had ruined any hopes of a good marriage.
To survive Margaret lived with her nurse and kept a flock of sheep. She lived humbly and simply but didn’t stay safe for long. Her beauty caught the eye of the Roman Governor who asked for her hand in marriage on the condition she would renounce her faith.
Margaret refused. She was taken captive and tortured in an effort to make her give up her beliefs. Legend says she was swallowed whole by Satan in the guise of a mighty serpent, but Margaret’s heavy cross around her neck gave him indigestion and she appeared whole and healthy as he spewed her forth, and in great agony the serpent died.
Margaret is not a typical dragon slayer, the event seems almost accidental but her courage shines forth. Sadly, it did not win her a long and happy life. She was executed in AD304 and elevated to the status of Saint. I think this medieval image of Margaret and the dragon is exquisite, even if someone has loped off one of her arms.
My next dragon slayer is Sigurd, son of Sigmund and this is a story of courage and revenge. This little story is part of a much longer Nordic saga involving a lot of treasure and a magic ring. I don’t have time to address all of it here so take it from me Sigurd had good grounds to agree to destroy the evil dragon form of Fafnir. BTW, don’t read this one with your morning toast or mid morning snack, it’s bloody.
The hero visited the smith Regin and instructs him to make a sword. This is done and Sigurd tests the blade by striking the smith’s anvil. The sword shatters. Three blades are made one after the other and each breaks when tested. Finally, Sigurd asks Regin to forge a blade from all the shards of the others that broke. The smith does so and the sword he makes, called Gram slices through the anvil when Sigurd tests it. This is a true blade for a dragon slayer.
Regin advises Sigurd to dig a pit and disguise it. Sigurd must wait down in hiding for the dragon to cross the pit trap. Then, unseen by the beast, he will be able to stab the dragon. The smith also asks for the dragon’s heart for himself.
Odin, in disguise as an old man warns Sigurd to dig trenches to drain the dragon’s blood so he will not drown in the bottom of a bloody pit. Father Odin also instructs the hero to bathe in the blood, too, as it will give invulnerability.
Sigurd follows all the instructions and despite the dangers kills his dragon. He bathes in the blood and even drinks some, which gives him both invulnerability and the blessing of being able to understand the language of birds. True to his promise to take the heart to the smith he cuts it from the dragon’s chest.
The birds tweet to Sigurd the smith, Regin, will betray him and is plotting his death due to the same magic that created the dragon. Sigurd kills the smith, roasts the dragon’s heart and eats some, and this gives him the gift of prophecy.
This dragon slayer attained great gifts for killing the mighty beast
Tomorrow it is Paranormal Romance Thursday and my guest will be Lyndi Lamont and I will be visiting with Flossie Benton Rogers.
Thanks for reading.
Green dragon Image ID : 11298164 Image Type : Stock Photo Copyright : Sattapapan Tratong
Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_tratong'>tratong / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
"Saint Margaret sculpture" by Postdlf from w. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saint_Margaret_sculpture.jpg#/media/File:Saint_Margaret_sculpture.jpg
"1512 Meister des Döbelner Hochaltars Hl. Georg zu Pferde anagoria" by Meister des Döbelner Hochaltars - anagoria. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1512_Meister_des_D%C3%B6belner_Hochaltars_Hl._Georg_zu_Pferde_anagoria.JPG#/media/File:1512_Meister_des_D
"Dragonslayervermithraxp" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dragonslayervermithraxp.jpg#/media/File:Dragonslayervermithraxp.jpg