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Dragons, Serpents, and Slayers in the Classical and Early Christian Worlds: A Sourcebook

Dragons, Serpents, and Slayers in the Classical and Early Christian Worlds: A Sourcebook

Hardback

By (author) Daniel Ogden

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 360 pages
  • Dimensions: 186mm x 256mm x 28mm | 880g
  • Publication date: 20 May 2013
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0199925097
  • ISBN 13: 9780199925094
  • Illustrations note: 29 illus.

Product description

Stories about dragons, serpents, and their slayers make up a rich and varied tradition within ancient mythology and folklore. In this sourcebook, Daniel Ogden presents a comprehensive and easily accessible collection of dragon myths from Greek, Roman, and early Christian sources. Some of the dragons featured are well known: the Hydra, slain by Heracles; the Dragon of Colchis, the guardian of the golden fleece overcome by Jason and Medea; and the great sea-serpent from which Perseus rescues Andromeda. But the less well known dragons are often equally enthralling, like the Dragon of Thespiae, which Menestratus slays by feeding himself to it in armor covered in fish-hooks, or the lamias of Libya, who entice young men into their striking-range by wiggling their tails, shaped like beautiful women, at them. The texts are arranged in such a way as to allow readers to witness the continuity of and evolution in dragon stories between the Classical and Christian worlds, and to understand the genesis of saintly dragon-slaying stories of the sort now characteristically associated with St George, whose earliest dragon-fight concludes the volume. All texts, a considerable number of which have not previously been available in English, are offered in new translations and accompanied by lucid commentaries that place the source-passages into their mythical, folkloric, literary, and cultural contexts. A sampling of the ancient iconography of dragons and an appendix on dragon slaying myths from the ancient Near East and India, particularly those with a bearing upon the Greco-Roman material, are also included. This volume promises to be the most authoritative sourcebook on this perennially fascinating and influential body of ancient myth.

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Author information

Daniel Ogden is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Exeter, UK and Research Fellow in UNISA (University of South Africa). He is the author of numerous books on the ancient world, including another sourcebook, Magic, Witchcraft and Ghosts in the Greek and Roman Worlds (2nd ed., OUP USA, 2009) and the authoritative treatment of the dragon in antiquity, Drakon: Dragon Myth and Serpent Cult in the Greek and Roman Worlds (forthcoming OUP 2013).

Review quote

"This is a charming and comprehensive collection of texts on ancient pagan and Christian dragon-lore. There is no doubt that it will be immensely helpful for scholars and students alike in finding their way through a tangle of traditions buried in often inaccessible texts, and will provide an authoritative basis for further research."--Graham Anderson, University of Kent"Ogden's book deserves very high marks, bringing together in the compass of a single volume the narrative sources for ancient, medieval, and other dragons, together with their opponents, all supplemented by a generous number of well-chosen illustrations."--William F. Hansen, Indiana University"Ogden has produced a terrifically entertaining and extremely useful sourcebook that marvelously fulfills its promise of providing a comprehensive collection of dragon tales from the ancient and medieval periods. The reader will find fascinating excerpts from the Greek Homer to the Norse Eddas, and dragon-slayers from Heracles to St. Hilarion."--Debbie Felton, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Table of contents

Dedication ; Acknowledgements ; List of Figures ; Abbreviations ; Quick Key to Some Special Terms and Conventions Used in this Book ; Introduction ; Schema of motifs ; PART ONE: THE CLASSICAL DRAGON ; i. The Genealogy of the Great Dragons ; ii. Typhon, Slain by Zeus ; iii. Python, Slain by Apollo ; iv. Heracles' Dragons (i): Baby Heracles and the Dragon-pair Sent by Hera ; v. Heracles' Dragons (ii): the Hydra ; vi. Heracles' Dragons (iii): Ladon, the Dragon of the Hesperides ; vii. Heracles' Dragons (iv): Cerberus, the Hound of Hades ; viii. The Chimaera, Slain by Bellerophon ; ix. Medusa, Slain by Perseus ; x. Lamia, Slain by Eurybatus and Others ; xi. The Dragon of Ares, Slain by Cadmus ; xii. The Dragon of Nemea, Slain by the Seven against Thebes ; xiii. The Dragon of Colchis, Slain or Put to Sleep by Jason and Medea ; xiv. The Dragon-pair Sent against Laocoon and his Sons ; xv. The Dragon of the River Bagrada, Slain by Regulus and his Army ; xvi. Some Unique Dragon-slaying and Dragon-averting Narratives in Later Greek Sources ; xvii. The Sea-monster of Troy, Slain by Heracles ; xviii. The Sea-Serpent of Ethiopia, Slain by Perseus ; xix. Scylla, Slain by Heracles and Encountered by Odysseus ; PART TWO: THE CHRISTIAN DRAGON ; xx. The Serpents of the Bible and its Apocrypha ; xxi. The Dragons of the Early Hagiographical Tradition ; xxii. St Philip, the Echidna and the Ophianoi ; xxiii. St Silvester and the Dragon of Rome ; xxiv. Saintly Tales Originating between the Fourth and Sixth Centuries AD ; xxv. Saintly Tales of the Central Medieval Period ; xxvi. St Patrick and St George ; APPENDICES ; Appendix A: World-foundational Dragon-slaying Tales from the Ancient Near East and India ; Appendix B: Germanic Dragon fights of the eighth to thirteenth centuries AD ; Appendix C: A Selection of Dragon- and Serpent-slaying Tales of Folkloric Interest ; List of Editions Used ; References ; Source Index ; General Index