chapter
Mythical Animals: Dragon
Motif B11
ByHande A. Birkalan, Jane Garry
Pages 7

G. Elliot Smith describes the dragon as a modified serpent, lizard, fish, shellfish, toad, elephant, horse, ram, deer, or another animal. Dragons are imaginary and composite creatures. While female dragons appear to be a rarity, the Motif-Index refers to a "she-dragon" motif in Irish myth and legend. The dragon figures prominently in the mythology of various Asian countries. The earliest dragon story in Sumerian myth, from about 5000 BCE, tells of a dragon named Zu, the Sumerian storm god, also known as Anzu. Another ancient dragon story is contained in the Babylonian creation myth, the Enuma Elish. There are many famous dragon slayers in myth and literature, including Perseus, Marduk, Apollo, Siegfried, Saint Michael, Saint George, Beowulf, Arthur, and Tristan. The widespread European folktale theme of a princess being saved from a dragon by a young hero may not stem directly from the story of Perseus and Andromeda, but it certainly is analogous.