A Little Bit of Dragon in Everyone

Maxfield_parrish__reluctant_dragon "May I come in, St. George?" said the Boy politely, as he paused at the door. "I want to talk to you about this little matter of the dragon, if you’re not too tired of it by this time."  — Kenneth Grahame, The Reluctant Dragon, 1898

Susan Sarah here, with a few thoughts on dragons, dragonslayers, and why we even bother reading about the nasty, scaly, slimy critters….

I wrote my dissertation on images of St. George in medieval art, so for years I was surrounded by…well, images of St. George: alone, with other saints, with the princess, on a horse, off a horse, with and without patrons, and of course…with a dragon.

Stgeorgedragonmanuscript15thc While I was doing all this erudite research, I kept two Gary Larson Far Side cartoons tacked to the bulletin board over my desk. I couldn’t find the images online (and my copies are too tattered to scan well), so let descriptions suffice:

Far Side cartoon #1: Artist at easel, painting an image of a knight in armor, with one hand on a spear, and one foot raised and resting on a little red wagon. A man is looking over the artist’s shoulder. “No, the king wanted St. George and the dragon! Dragon!”

Far Side cartoon #2: A dragon outside a cave, tossing a small armored knight in his forepaws. Steam is coming out of the knight’s very hot armor. Dragon: “Ow, ow, Phyllis, hurry up with them hot pads!”

Why dragons? Why do some people find them fascinating, and some do not (including some very fine authors on our Wenches team)?  What is it about dragons? Dragons and dragon-like monsters exist in just about every culture and occur in innumerable myth cycles from cultures all over the world.

Y’all can relax, because I’m not going to info-dump my dissertation work here in the blog, but I thought I’d look at the symbolism, and ponder a little of why that dragon has so much appeal (and St. George too…in the 14th century, he was HOT, and not because the dragon roasted him in steel).

Vanderweyden In most images, St. George is in the act of killing the dragon–-thrusting the spear into its side (yes, religious connotations there), or more commonly, down the poor critter’s throat “to breke its harte” as one medieval text put it. Truly, I felt sorry for the dragon, just doing its dragonian thang, and along comes this guy on a horse, and pow, it’s lights out.

St. George was well established early on as a martyred saint, his martyrdom involving not dragon-slaying, but various tortures and multiple executions that included fire, drowning, beheading (and he came back again), and, IIRC, rolling downhill in barrels. Somewhere around the 6th century, in Byzantian/Georgian imagery, he starts showing up with a dragon. In England, he quickly becomes an early favorite saint, his cult growing by leaps and bounds. Soon images of Saint George contain not only the dragon, but a princess being rescued. He starts popping up in medieval romance literature, and that dragon-and-princess thing gets rolling. St. George was a superstar hero in medieval England and parts of Europe. In images and in literature, he teams up with the Virgin Mary (a privilege reserved only for the creme de la creme), he marries his princess (who is pregnant before the wedding) and–-if you can believe this–-he’s secretly the twin brother of the dwarf Oberon, king of the fairies.

Rossettistgsabra He was the only saint to cross over into the truly secular arena, the movie star hero of his day, killing dragons and rescuing princesses for the sake of adventure and chivalry, rather than religious fervor. Very likely the Saxon English responded to him early on because St. George reminded them of Beowulf and Grendel, and the various Viking and Germanic/Saxon tales that include dragons. They understood and could enjoy George, with his dragon and princess. Newly Christian Britain retained a pagan flavor in their beliefs (and that still exists today).

There are other dragon and monster slayers: Beowulf and Grendel, Siegfried and Fafnir, Lancelot, Sir Guy of Warwick, Sir Bevis of Hampton, the Archangel Michael –- the list goes on and on, and expands greatly as one looks at other cultures, Germanic, Norse, Celtic, Chinese, Japanese, and so on.  We’re all aware of the dragons as sea-monsters that appeared on early maps before Columbus and others proved that they weren’t really there. Well, except for the Kraken, as Cap’n Jack Sparrow can attest….

What is it about dragons that had medieval people and others on the edge of their seats? And do they appeal to us today for the same reasons?

To the medieval mind, dragons represented evil, the devil, sin –- qualities and forces to be vanquished and conquered. Saint George and other dragonslayers had the strength, discipline, virtue, faith, and purity needed to defeat the dark forces of evil. That’s a large part of the dragon mythology –- that dark side of ourselves. Like vampires, werewolves, and so on, dragons too can be what Joseph Campbell called the shadow side of ourselves, and as he put it:

“The nature of your shadow is a function of the nature of your ego…It is the backside of your light side…the monster that has to be overcome, the dragon. It is the dark thing that comes up from the abyss and confronts you the minute you begin moving down into the unconscious.”

Gund_dragon_fafner But dragons, unlike vampires and werewolves, have a positive side too. They are flexible monsters in that sense. They can even be cute ‘n cuddly, well, almost. A stuffed toy dragon for your kid? Sure! A cuddly toy werewolf? No thanks!

This positive side of the dragon is what I think so many of us respond to and find most fascinating. The dragon, even if it seems evil and violent, has enormous potential for greatness and goodness. Across cultures, dragons represent unlimited power, wisdom, knowledge, the unconscious, the potential of the soul. To tame or possess that power and wisdom is the best we can do for ourselves. Dragons hoard gold -– the treasure of the Self, the powerful life force. Dragons are not to be trusted when they dwell on the dark side, yet some dragons have a transcendant power.

The dragon, says Campbell, is the shadow–- “the landfill of the self…also a sort of a vault that holds great, unrealized potentialities within you.” The dragon hoards potential in that pile o’ gold – and it is up to the hero, or heroine, to salvage and release it somehow. No one comes away from a dragon encounter unchanged.

Chinese_vase_1 So the dragon has strongly positive, ideal, sublime qualities as well as the deepest, darkest nasty stuff, all combined in one. To read stories about dragons -– dragon quests, meeting dragons, befriending them or defeating them, stealing their treasure or being given a great gift from the dragon itself, to tame or be taught by the good dragons, or to slay the nasty dragons -– these aspects are symbols and metaphors of delving deep within ourselves, learning more about ourselves, and about life. Reading about dragons is exploring the darker, mysterious side of the soul, and vanquishing or befriending them means we emerge from the cave wiser and better than when we went inside.

Even those of us who say we don’t like dragons with scales and fire-breath, have read and enjoyed characters who have all the qualities of the dragon persona: Ebenezer Scrooge, for example, is a prime dragon character. He hoards gold, he snarls and spits fire, he goes down deep into the cave over one long night and emerges–-as we do, with him-–changed for the better, wiser, and willing to release that hoarded potential within himself.

There’s my dragonistic thoughts for a snowy Wednesday.

Beaufort_dragonsjcc ~Susan Sarah

76 thoughts on “A Little Bit of Dragon in Everyone”

  1. Wow. Thank you. I want to read your dissertation! Beautifully done, and fascinating.
    I do like dragons, both evil and good, and they are a great metaphor for the intensity of the inner struggle of good and evil.
    So, is your dissertation online? 😀

    Reply
  2. Wow. Thank you. I want to read your dissertation! Beautifully done, and fascinating.
    I do like dragons, both evil and good, and they are a great metaphor for the intensity of the inner struggle of good and evil.
    So, is your dissertation online? 😀

    Reply
  3. Wow. Thank you. I want to read your dissertation! Beautifully done, and fascinating.
    I do like dragons, both evil and good, and they are a great metaphor for the intensity of the inner struggle of good and evil.
    So, is your dissertation online? 😀

    Reply
  4. Wow. Thank you. I want to read your dissertation! Beautifully done, and fascinating.
    I do like dragons, both evil and good, and they are a great metaphor for the intensity of the inner struggle of good and evil.
    So, is your dissertation online? 😀

    Reply
  5. Art attributions for my blog today:
    #1 — Maxfield Parrish, The Reluctant Dragon
    #2 — manuscript illumination, 15th c. Flemish or German
    #3 — Rogier Van Der Weyden, St. George and the Dragon, National Gallery of Art, DC
    #4 — Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Wedding of St. George and Princess Sabra
    #5 — Gund, stuffed dragon (aww! I want one!)
    #6 — Chinese vase
    #7 — ms. illumination, St G. and the D., The Beaufort Hours/York Psalter, 15th c.

    Reply
  6. Art attributions for my blog today:
    #1 — Maxfield Parrish, The Reluctant Dragon
    #2 — manuscript illumination, 15th c. Flemish or German
    #3 — Rogier Van Der Weyden, St. George and the Dragon, National Gallery of Art, DC
    #4 — Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Wedding of St. George and Princess Sabra
    #5 — Gund, stuffed dragon (aww! I want one!)
    #6 — Chinese vase
    #7 — ms. illumination, St G. and the D., The Beaufort Hours/York Psalter, 15th c.

    Reply
  7. Art attributions for my blog today:
    #1 — Maxfield Parrish, The Reluctant Dragon
    #2 — manuscript illumination, 15th c. Flemish or German
    #3 — Rogier Van Der Weyden, St. George and the Dragon, National Gallery of Art, DC
    #4 — Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Wedding of St. George and Princess Sabra
    #5 — Gund, stuffed dragon (aww! I want one!)
    #6 — Chinese vase
    #7 — ms. illumination, St G. and the D., The Beaufort Hours/York Psalter, 15th c.

    Reply
  8. Art attributions for my blog today:
    #1 — Maxfield Parrish, The Reluctant Dragon
    #2 — manuscript illumination, 15th c. Flemish or German
    #3 — Rogier Van Der Weyden, St. George and the Dragon, National Gallery of Art, DC
    #4 — Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Wedding of St. George and Princess Sabra
    #5 — Gund, stuffed dragon (aww! I want one!)
    #6 — Chinese vase
    #7 — ms. illumination, St G. and the D., The Beaufort Hours/York Psalter, 15th c.

    Reply
  9. Art attributions for my blog today:
    #1 — Maxfield Parrish, The Reluctant Dragon
    #2 — manuscript illumination, 15th c. Flemish or German
    #3 — Rogier Van Der Weyden, St. George and the Dragon, National Gallery of Art, DC
    #4 — Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Wedding of St. George and Princess Sabra
    #5 — Gund, stuffed dragon (aww! I want one!)
    #6 — Chinese vase
    #7 — ms. illumination, St G. and the D., The Beaufort Hours/York Psalter, 15th c.

    Reply
  10. Art attributions for my blog today:
    #1 — Maxfield Parrish, The Reluctant Dragon
    #2 — manuscript illumination, 15th c. Flemish or German
    #3 — Rogier Van Der Weyden, St. George and the Dragon, National Gallery of Art, DC
    #4 — Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Wedding of St. George and Princess Sabra
    #5 — Gund, stuffed dragon (aww! I want one!)
    #6 — Chinese vase
    #7 — ms. illumination, St G. and the D., The Beaufort Hours/York Psalter, 15th c.

    Reply
  11. Art attributions for my blog today:
    #1 — Maxfield Parrish, The Reluctant Dragon
    #2 — manuscript illumination, 15th c. Flemish or German
    #3 — Rogier Van Der Weyden, St. George and the Dragon, National Gallery of Art, DC
    #4 — Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Wedding of St. George and Princess Sabra
    #5 — Gund, stuffed dragon (aww! I want one!)
    #6 — Chinese vase
    #7 — ms. illumination, St G. and the D., The Beaufort Hours/York Psalter, 15th c.

    Reply
  12. Art attributions for my blog today:
    #1 — Maxfield Parrish, The Reluctant Dragon
    #2 — manuscript illumination, 15th c. Flemish or German
    #3 — Rogier Van Der Weyden, St. George and the Dragon, National Gallery of Art, DC
    #4 — Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Wedding of St. George and Princess Sabra
    #5 — Gund, stuffed dragon (aww! I want one!)
    #6 — Chinese vase
    #7 — ms. illumination, St G. and the D., The Beaufort Hours/York Psalter, 15th c.

    Reply
  13. OK, I do not know why that posted twice, sorry… I’ve had nothing but trouble today from Typepad, but as Susan Miranda so wisely pointed out to me this morning, perhaps Typepad was my dragon to slay today. *g*
    Thanks, Susanna, glad you enjoyed the blog.
    I haven’t completed my dissertation — I passed the oral exams, did the research, got it most of it written, but at the same time I had three babies, and was knee-deep in diapers, toy trucks, and toy dragons…by the time the youngest went to pre-school, I was halfway through writing my first historical romance(a great way to preserve sanity during the diapering years)…and then my first book got published.
    So, no dissertation, but I have a lot of books you could read. **g**
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  14. OK, I do not know why that posted twice, sorry… I’ve had nothing but trouble today from Typepad, but as Susan Miranda so wisely pointed out to me this morning, perhaps Typepad was my dragon to slay today. *g*
    Thanks, Susanna, glad you enjoyed the blog.
    I haven’t completed my dissertation — I passed the oral exams, did the research, got it most of it written, but at the same time I had three babies, and was knee-deep in diapers, toy trucks, and toy dragons…by the time the youngest went to pre-school, I was halfway through writing my first historical romance(a great way to preserve sanity during the diapering years)…and then my first book got published.
    So, no dissertation, but I have a lot of books you could read. **g**
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  15. OK, I do not know why that posted twice, sorry… I’ve had nothing but trouble today from Typepad, but as Susan Miranda so wisely pointed out to me this morning, perhaps Typepad was my dragon to slay today. *g*
    Thanks, Susanna, glad you enjoyed the blog.
    I haven’t completed my dissertation — I passed the oral exams, did the research, got it most of it written, but at the same time I had three babies, and was knee-deep in diapers, toy trucks, and toy dragons…by the time the youngest went to pre-school, I was halfway through writing my first historical romance(a great way to preserve sanity during the diapering years)…and then my first book got published.
    So, no dissertation, but I have a lot of books you could read. **g**
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  16. OK, I do not know why that posted twice, sorry… I’ve had nothing but trouble today from Typepad, but as Susan Miranda so wisely pointed out to me this morning, perhaps Typepad was my dragon to slay today. *g*
    Thanks, Susanna, glad you enjoyed the blog.
    I haven’t completed my dissertation — I passed the oral exams, did the research, got it most of it written, but at the same time I had three babies, and was knee-deep in diapers, toy trucks, and toy dragons…by the time the youngest went to pre-school, I was halfway through writing my first historical romance(a great way to preserve sanity during the diapering years)…and then my first book got published.
    So, no dissertation, but I have a lot of books you could read. **g**
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  17. Loved your medieval illustrations. I do seem to recall the faintest whiff of a dragon with the persona of a wise elder. The mental image of him with mortarboard and spectacles doesn’t, unfortunately, come with a footnote telling me where I saw it.
    Too bad about the thesis; same thing happened to mine (except for the romance novel part). I’ve been told that about 40% of advanced degree candidates fall by the wayside at that stage. Eaten by dragons, perhaps, or daunted by the dragon-like aspects of their review committee. I can get behind the idea of a charming dragon, but the picture of a cute and cuddly review committee notably fails to materialize in my mind’s eye!

    Reply
  18. Loved your medieval illustrations. I do seem to recall the faintest whiff of a dragon with the persona of a wise elder. The mental image of him with mortarboard and spectacles doesn’t, unfortunately, come with a footnote telling me where I saw it.
    Too bad about the thesis; same thing happened to mine (except for the romance novel part). I’ve been told that about 40% of advanced degree candidates fall by the wayside at that stage. Eaten by dragons, perhaps, or daunted by the dragon-like aspects of their review committee. I can get behind the idea of a charming dragon, but the picture of a cute and cuddly review committee notably fails to materialize in my mind’s eye!

    Reply
  19. Loved your medieval illustrations. I do seem to recall the faintest whiff of a dragon with the persona of a wise elder. The mental image of him with mortarboard and spectacles doesn’t, unfortunately, come with a footnote telling me where I saw it.
    Too bad about the thesis; same thing happened to mine (except for the romance novel part). I’ve been told that about 40% of advanced degree candidates fall by the wayside at that stage. Eaten by dragons, perhaps, or daunted by the dragon-like aspects of their review committee. I can get behind the idea of a charming dragon, but the picture of a cute and cuddly review committee notably fails to materialize in my mind’s eye!

    Reply
  20. Loved your medieval illustrations. I do seem to recall the faintest whiff of a dragon with the persona of a wise elder. The mental image of him with mortarboard and spectacles doesn’t, unfortunately, come with a footnote telling me where I saw it.
    Too bad about the thesis; same thing happened to mine (except for the romance novel part). I’ve been told that about 40% of advanced degree candidates fall by the wayside at that stage. Eaten by dragons, perhaps, or daunted by the dragon-like aspects of their review committee. I can get behind the idea of a charming dragon, but the picture of a cute and cuddly review committee notably fails to materialize in my mind’s eye!

    Reply
  21. From Sherrie:
    Aha! The minute I looked at that first picture, I thought, Maxfield Parrish! That is the sweetest dragon. In the horse world, we say a horse has a “kind eye” when it has a gentle look about the eyes. That Parrish dragon definitely has a kind eye.
    Enjoyed your informative, intelligent, and fascinating dissertation on dragons, Susan/Sarah. I always love it when you talk art, especially symbolism in art.
    I hope your snow goes away soon (unless you’re a snow lover). Yesterday we had an unseasonably warm and balmy 62 degrees here in western Washington State, and I spent most of the day on my hands and knees in my shirtsleeves, paying homage to Nature by pulling weeds in my gravel driveway. The catkins on my pink-pussywillow tree are fit to burst, and the air has the sweet scent of approaching spring. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find a tiny Maxfield Parrish dragon peeping out at me from under the leaf mold in the garden.

    Reply
  22. From Sherrie:
    Aha! The minute I looked at that first picture, I thought, Maxfield Parrish! That is the sweetest dragon. In the horse world, we say a horse has a “kind eye” when it has a gentle look about the eyes. That Parrish dragon definitely has a kind eye.
    Enjoyed your informative, intelligent, and fascinating dissertation on dragons, Susan/Sarah. I always love it when you talk art, especially symbolism in art.
    I hope your snow goes away soon (unless you’re a snow lover). Yesterday we had an unseasonably warm and balmy 62 degrees here in western Washington State, and I spent most of the day on my hands and knees in my shirtsleeves, paying homage to Nature by pulling weeds in my gravel driveway. The catkins on my pink-pussywillow tree are fit to burst, and the air has the sweet scent of approaching spring. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find a tiny Maxfield Parrish dragon peeping out at me from under the leaf mold in the garden.

    Reply
  23. From Sherrie:
    Aha! The minute I looked at that first picture, I thought, Maxfield Parrish! That is the sweetest dragon. In the horse world, we say a horse has a “kind eye” when it has a gentle look about the eyes. That Parrish dragon definitely has a kind eye.
    Enjoyed your informative, intelligent, and fascinating dissertation on dragons, Susan/Sarah. I always love it when you talk art, especially symbolism in art.
    I hope your snow goes away soon (unless you’re a snow lover). Yesterday we had an unseasonably warm and balmy 62 degrees here in western Washington State, and I spent most of the day on my hands and knees in my shirtsleeves, paying homage to Nature by pulling weeds in my gravel driveway. The catkins on my pink-pussywillow tree are fit to burst, and the air has the sweet scent of approaching spring. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find a tiny Maxfield Parrish dragon peeping out at me from under the leaf mold in the garden.

    Reply
  24. From Sherrie:
    Aha! The minute I looked at that first picture, I thought, Maxfield Parrish! That is the sweetest dragon. In the horse world, we say a horse has a “kind eye” when it has a gentle look about the eyes. That Parrish dragon definitely has a kind eye.
    Enjoyed your informative, intelligent, and fascinating dissertation on dragons, Susan/Sarah. I always love it when you talk art, especially symbolism in art.
    I hope your snow goes away soon (unless you’re a snow lover). Yesterday we had an unseasonably warm and balmy 62 degrees here in western Washington State, and I spent most of the day on my hands and knees in my shirtsleeves, paying homage to Nature by pulling weeds in my gravel driveway. The catkins on my pink-pussywillow tree are fit to burst, and the air has the sweet scent of approaching spring. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find a tiny Maxfield Parrish dragon peeping out at me from under the leaf mold in the garden.

    Reply
  25. Wow, I would have loved to read that thesis! The Uccello St. George and the Dragon in the British National Gallery is one of my very favorite paintings! Of course, it does live in the room of greatness with the Arnolfini wedding…

    Reply
  26. Wow, I would have loved to read that thesis! The Uccello St. George and the Dragon in the British National Gallery is one of my very favorite paintings! Of course, it does live in the room of greatness with the Arnolfini wedding…

    Reply
  27. Wow, I would have loved to read that thesis! The Uccello St. George and the Dragon in the British National Gallery is one of my very favorite paintings! Of course, it does live in the room of greatness with the Arnolfini wedding…

    Reply
  28. Wow, I would have loved to read that thesis! The Uccello St. George and the Dragon in the British National Gallery is one of my very favorite paintings! Of course, it does live in the room of greatness with the Arnolfini wedding…

    Reply
  29. Absolutely fantastic post, Susan/Sarah. And in my ignorance, I can add nothing to it, except to say that even I have a dragon poster, one of the dragon aiming a cannon at a computer and saying “make my day.”
    If typepad keeps burping on you, I’ll send you a copy. “G”

    Reply
  30. Absolutely fantastic post, Susan/Sarah. And in my ignorance, I can add nothing to it, except to say that even I have a dragon poster, one of the dragon aiming a cannon at a computer and saying “make my day.”
    If typepad keeps burping on you, I’ll send you a copy. “G”

    Reply
  31. Absolutely fantastic post, Susan/Sarah. And in my ignorance, I can add nothing to it, except to say that even I have a dragon poster, one of the dragon aiming a cannon at a computer and saying “make my day.”
    If typepad keeps burping on you, I’ll send you a copy. “G”

    Reply
  32. Absolutely fantastic post, Susan/Sarah. And in my ignorance, I can add nothing to it, except to say that even I have a dragon poster, one of the dragon aiming a cannon at a computer and saying “make my day.”
    If typepad keeps burping on you, I’ll send you a copy. “G”

    Reply
  33. Pat, that sounds like a perfect dragon poster!
    Sara, the Uccello St. George and the Dragon is absolutely gorgeous -interesting juxtaposition of serenity of design and rather a violent subject.
    Sherrie, you’re right about the “kind eye” with that dragon!I’m a Maxfield Parrish fan, I love everything he did, and he captured the sense of that story just perfectly.
    Elaine, that’s an interesting statistic. I think the responsibilities of marriage and babies does in quite a good percentage of doctoral candidates. I wasn’t bothered by the thought of a draconian review committee–in fact I looked forward to that part of the process. I just had way too much going on in my life in those years, and took a leave of absence intending to return…and then started writing fiction…I guess I didn’t expect to be published! 🙂
    Susan Sarah

    Reply
  34. Pat, that sounds like a perfect dragon poster!
    Sara, the Uccello St. George and the Dragon is absolutely gorgeous -interesting juxtaposition of serenity of design and rather a violent subject.
    Sherrie, you’re right about the “kind eye” with that dragon!I’m a Maxfield Parrish fan, I love everything he did, and he captured the sense of that story just perfectly.
    Elaine, that’s an interesting statistic. I think the responsibilities of marriage and babies does in quite a good percentage of doctoral candidates. I wasn’t bothered by the thought of a draconian review committee–in fact I looked forward to that part of the process. I just had way too much going on in my life in those years, and took a leave of absence intending to return…and then started writing fiction…I guess I didn’t expect to be published! 🙂
    Susan Sarah

    Reply
  35. Pat, that sounds like a perfect dragon poster!
    Sara, the Uccello St. George and the Dragon is absolutely gorgeous -interesting juxtaposition of serenity of design and rather a violent subject.
    Sherrie, you’re right about the “kind eye” with that dragon!I’m a Maxfield Parrish fan, I love everything he did, and he captured the sense of that story just perfectly.
    Elaine, that’s an interesting statistic. I think the responsibilities of marriage and babies does in quite a good percentage of doctoral candidates. I wasn’t bothered by the thought of a draconian review committee–in fact I looked forward to that part of the process. I just had way too much going on in my life in those years, and took a leave of absence intending to return…and then started writing fiction…I guess I didn’t expect to be published! 🙂
    Susan Sarah

    Reply
  36. Pat, that sounds like a perfect dragon poster!
    Sara, the Uccello St. George and the Dragon is absolutely gorgeous -interesting juxtaposition of serenity of design and rather a violent subject.
    Sherrie, you’re right about the “kind eye” with that dragon!I’m a Maxfield Parrish fan, I love everything he did, and he captured the sense of that story just perfectly.
    Elaine, that’s an interesting statistic. I think the responsibilities of marriage and babies does in quite a good percentage of doctoral candidates. I wasn’t bothered by the thought of a draconian review committee–in fact I looked forward to that part of the process. I just had way too much going on in my life in those years, and took a leave of absence intending to return…and then started writing fiction…I guess I didn’t expect to be published! 🙂
    Susan Sarah

    Reply
  37. Hi Susan/Sarah,
    FABULOUS post!
    I loved the Ebenezer Scrooge/ dragon analogy.
    Perhaps the “shadow self” is one reason JK Rowling named Harry Potter’s nemesis “Draco Malfoy” (I KNEW that Latin major would come in handy one day!).
    Melinda

    Reply
  38. Hi Susan/Sarah,
    FABULOUS post!
    I loved the Ebenezer Scrooge/ dragon analogy.
    Perhaps the “shadow self” is one reason JK Rowling named Harry Potter’s nemesis “Draco Malfoy” (I KNEW that Latin major would come in handy one day!).
    Melinda

    Reply
  39. Hi Susan/Sarah,
    FABULOUS post!
    I loved the Ebenezer Scrooge/ dragon analogy.
    Perhaps the “shadow self” is one reason JK Rowling named Harry Potter’s nemesis “Draco Malfoy” (I KNEW that Latin major would come in handy one day!).
    Melinda

    Reply
  40. Hi Susan/Sarah,
    FABULOUS post!
    I loved the Ebenezer Scrooge/ dragon analogy.
    Perhaps the “shadow self” is one reason JK Rowling named Harry Potter’s nemesis “Draco Malfoy” (I KNEW that Latin major would come in handy one day!).
    Melinda

    Reply
  41. Perhaps I should have qualified that comment by saying “Harry’s SCHOOLYARD nemesis”–seeing as how Voldemort is, like, a million times evil-er, duh.
    Melinda, hoping not to embarrass her teen daughter too much today

    Reply
  42. Perhaps I should have qualified that comment by saying “Harry’s SCHOOLYARD nemesis”–seeing as how Voldemort is, like, a million times evil-er, duh.
    Melinda, hoping not to embarrass her teen daughter too much today

    Reply
  43. Perhaps I should have qualified that comment by saying “Harry’s SCHOOLYARD nemesis”–seeing as how Voldemort is, like, a million times evil-er, duh.
    Melinda, hoping not to embarrass her teen daughter too much today

    Reply
  44. Perhaps I should have qualified that comment by saying “Harry’s SCHOOLYARD nemesis”–seeing as how Voldemort is, like, a million times evil-er, duh.
    Melinda, hoping not to embarrass her teen daughter too much today

    Reply
  45. Interesting point about Draco, Melinda.
    Since we’re highlighting dragons this month at Word Wenches, I find it interesting that there are so many human fictional characters with dragonesque traits. The archetype runs pretty deep–as good archetypes will do–into even the most un-dragonlike stories.
    Some of the best villains are shadow dragons in their essence–they might be hoarders, or protecting self to the point of mania, or sucking all the air out of the room.
    And some of the best supporting characters are good dragons–teachers, dispensers of wisdom, threshold guardians, and so on.
    I’m a bit bleary-eyed today, but I’ll bet you all can think of other examples…!
    Susan Sarah

    Reply
  46. Interesting point about Draco, Melinda.
    Since we’re highlighting dragons this month at Word Wenches, I find it interesting that there are so many human fictional characters with dragonesque traits. The archetype runs pretty deep–as good archetypes will do–into even the most un-dragonlike stories.
    Some of the best villains are shadow dragons in their essence–they might be hoarders, or protecting self to the point of mania, or sucking all the air out of the room.
    And some of the best supporting characters are good dragons–teachers, dispensers of wisdom, threshold guardians, and so on.
    I’m a bit bleary-eyed today, but I’ll bet you all can think of other examples…!
    Susan Sarah

    Reply
  47. Interesting point about Draco, Melinda.
    Since we’re highlighting dragons this month at Word Wenches, I find it interesting that there are so many human fictional characters with dragonesque traits. The archetype runs pretty deep–as good archetypes will do–into even the most un-dragonlike stories.
    Some of the best villains are shadow dragons in their essence–they might be hoarders, or protecting self to the point of mania, or sucking all the air out of the room.
    And some of the best supporting characters are good dragons–teachers, dispensers of wisdom, threshold guardians, and so on.
    I’m a bit bleary-eyed today, but I’ll bet you all can think of other examples…!
    Susan Sarah

    Reply
  48. Interesting point about Draco, Melinda.
    Since we’re highlighting dragons this month at Word Wenches, I find it interesting that there are so many human fictional characters with dragonesque traits. The archetype runs pretty deep–as good archetypes will do–into even the most un-dragonlike stories.
    Some of the best villains are shadow dragons in their essence–they might be hoarders, or protecting self to the point of mania, or sucking all the air out of the room.
    And some of the best supporting characters are good dragons–teachers, dispensers of wisdom, threshold guardians, and so on.
    I’m a bit bleary-eyed today, but I’ll bet you all can think of other examples…!
    Susan Sarah

    Reply
  49. I’m jumping on the “GREAT POST, Susan Sarah” bandwagon. So many wonderful dragonish thoughts, accompanied by a real retrograde Typepad dragon. 🙂
    Elaine, I’m not surprised at how many doctoral candidates end up ABD. (All But Dissertation, for thos of you who don’t hang out with academics.) Getting a doctorate is like a race course with ever more challenging hurdles, and it requires tremendoous academic rigor and persistence. Even my b-i-l, who is a born academic, says he had trouble completing his.
    Mary Jo, who wouldn’t even TRY!

    Reply
  50. I’m jumping on the “GREAT POST, Susan Sarah” bandwagon. So many wonderful dragonish thoughts, accompanied by a real retrograde Typepad dragon. 🙂
    Elaine, I’m not surprised at how many doctoral candidates end up ABD. (All But Dissertation, for thos of you who don’t hang out with academics.) Getting a doctorate is like a race course with ever more challenging hurdles, and it requires tremendoous academic rigor and persistence. Even my b-i-l, who is a born academic, says he had trouble completing his.
    Mary Jo, who wouldn’t even TRY!

    Reply
  51. I’m jumping on the “GREAT POST, Susan Sarah” bandwagon. So many wonderful dragonish thoughts, accompanied by a real retrograde Typepad dragon. 🙂
    Elaine, I’m not surprised at how many doctoral candidates end up ABD. (All But Dissertation, for thos of you who don’t hang out with academics.) Getting a doctorate is like a race course with ever more challenging hurdles, and it requires tremendoous academic rigor and persistence. Even my b-i-l, who is a born academic, says he had trouble completing his.
    Mary Jo, who wouldn’t even TRY!

    Reply
  52. I’m jumping on the “GREAT POST, Susan Sarah” bandwagon. So many wonderful dragonish thoughts, accompanied by a real retrograde Typepad dragon. 🙂
    Elaine, I’m not surprised at how many doctoral candidates end up ABD. (All But Dissertation, for thos of you who don’t hang out with academics.) Getting a doctorate is like a race course with ever more challenging hurdles, and it requires tremendoous academic rigor and persistence. Even my b-i-l, who is a born academic, says he had trouble completing his.
    Mary Jo, who wouldn’t even TRY!

    Reply
  53. Great post, Susan.
    I think one reason the dragon is different to most other “monsters” is that it’s not inherently supernatural. Sure, they don’t exist (now*G*) but they’re not connected to the devil, to damnation, or to moon-madness. They’re big lizards, usually able to fly. Breathing fire is the closest they come to mystical.They generally eat large animals as food, but so what? So do lions and other big cats, and orcas etc. The food chain is completely natural and normal.
    To me, dragons are very variable, and I’m not sure why that is. I’m open to vicious attack dragons and to cuddly book dragons, to ones that just want to be left alone to count their pretty toys and ones that feel called upon for some great world-defending role.
    Therefore, to come around to your question in the end, Susan, I think you’re right. There’s a dragon for every type of person.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  54. Great post, Susan.
    I think one reason the dragon is different to most other “monsters” is that it’s not inherently supernatural. Sure, they don’t exist (now*G*) but they’re not connected to the devil, to damnation, or to moon-madness. They’re big lizards, usually able to fly. Breathing fire is the closest they come to mystical.They generally eat large animals as food, but so what? So do lions and other big cats, and orcas etc. The food chain is completely natural and normal.
    To me, dragons are very variable, and I’m not sure why that is. I’m open to vicious attack dragons and to cuddly book dragons, to ones that just want to be left alone to count their pretty toys and ones that feel called upon for some great world-defending role.
    Therefore, to come around to your question in the end, Susan, I think you’re right. There’s a dragon for every type of person.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  55. Great post, Susan.
    I think one reason the dragon is different to most other “monsters” is that it’s not inherently supernatural. Sure, they don’t exist (now*G*) but they’re not connected to the devil, to damnation, or to moon-madness. They’re big lizards, usually able to fly. Breathing fire is the closest they come to mystical.They generally eat large animals as food, but so what? So do lions and other big cats, and orcas etc. The food chain is completely natural and normal.
    To me, dragons are very variable, and I’m not sure why that is. I’m open to vicious attack dragons and to cuddly book dragons, to ones that just want to be left alone to count their pretty toys and ones that feel called upon for some great world-defending role.
    Therefore, to come around to your question in the end, Susan, I think you’re right. There’s a dragon for every type of person.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  56. Great post, Susan.
    I think one reason the dragon is different to most other “monsters” is that it’s not inherently supernatural. Sure, they don’t exist (now*G*) but they’re not connected to the devil, to damnation, or to moon-madness. They’re big lizards, usually able to fly. Breathing fire is the closest they come to mystical.They generally eat large animals as food, but so what? So do lions and other big cats, and orcas etc. The food chain is completely natural and normal.
    To me, dragons are very variable, and I’m not sure why that is. I’m open to vicious attack dragons and to cuddly book dragons, to ones that just want to be left alone to count their pretty toys and ones that feel called upon for some great world-defending role.
    Therefore, to come around to your question in the end, Susan, I think you’re right. There’s a dragon for every type of person.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  57. Just as an aside, there were, of course, important pagan antecedents to the St.George dragon-slaying scene, principally the story, and images, of the hero Bellerophon slaying the Chimaera. The Chimaera was not reptilian in appearance: she had the body of a lioness, a serpentine tail, and a goat’s head growing out of her back, but she laid countryside to waste and breathed fire in a characteristically draconian fashion.
    Bellerophon was mounted on the winged horse, Pegasus, when he slew the Chimaera. Christians adopted the symbolism (Good overcoming Evil and so forth), and then the story was adapted to that of the Thracian saint allegedly martyred during the persecution of Christians under the Emperor Diocletian in AD 303.
    St. George became Patron Saint of England in the reign of Edward III (1327-77), but he is patron saint of many other countries and institutions as well.

    Reply
  58. Just as an aside, there were, of course, important pagan antecedents to the St.George dragon-slaying scene, principally the story, and images, of the hero Bellerophon slaying the Chimaera. The Chimaera was not reptilian in appearance: she had the body of a lioness, a serpentine tail, and a goat’s head growing out of her back, but she laid countryside to waste and breathed fire in a characteristically draconian fashion.
    Bellerophon was mounted on the winged horse, Pegasus, when he slew the Chimaera. Christians adopted the symbolism (Good overcoming Evil and so forth), and then the story was adapted to that of the Thracian saint allegedly martyred during the persecution of Christians under the Emperor Diocletian in AD 303.
    St. George became Patron Saint of England in the reign of Edward III (1327-77), but he is patron saint of many other countries and institutions as well.

    Reply
  59. Just as an aside, there were, of course, important pagan antecedents to the St.George dragon-slaying scene, principally the story, and images, of the hero Bellerophon slaying the Chimaera. The Chimaera was not reptilian in appearance: she had the body of a lioness, a serpentine tail, and a goat’s head growing out of her back, but she laid countryside to waste and breathed fire in a characteristically draconian fashion.
    Bellerophon was mounted on the winged horse, Pegasus, when he slew the Chimaera. Christians adopted the symbolism (Good overcoming Evil and so forth), and then the story was adapted to that of the Thracian saint allegedly martyred during the persecution of Christians under the Emperor Diocletian in AD 303.
    St. George became Patron Saint of England in the reign of Edward III (1327-77), but he is patron saint of many other countries and institutions as well.

    Reply
  60. Just as an aside, there were, of course, important pagan antecedents to the St.George dragon-slaying scene, principally the story, and images, of the hero Bellerophon slaying the Chimaera. The Chimaera was not reptilian in appearance: she had the body of a lioness, a serpentine tail, and a goat’s head growing out of her back, but she laid countryside to waste and breathed fire in a characteristically draconian fashion.
    Bellerophon was mounted on the winged horse, Pegasus, when he slew the Chimaera. Christians adopted the symbolism (Good overcoming Evil and so forth), and then the story was adapted to that of the Thracian saint allegedly martyred during the persecution of Christians under the Emperor Diocletian in AD 303.
    St. George became Patron Saint of England in the reign of Edward III (1327-77), but he is patron saint of many other countries and institutions as well.

    Reply
  61. Absolutely, AgTigress, there are ancient precedents for dragon and monster slaying heroes, and Saint George clicked right into the mold and fed new life into the old myths that were then Christianized. Bellerophon, Perseus, Horus, some others if I recall, though it’s been a while since I looked at the older sources. And Saint George covers a wide range as a patron saint–he was particularly special to England, and in Burgundy and the Netherlands as well, where some gorgeous medieval art was produced to honor him, and his patrons.
    What’s so interesting to me in all of this, as I said above I think, are the archetypes — as AgTigress pointed out, they go way, way back to the ancients. Dragons have ruled in one way or another for a very long time….
    I think we can even take the discussion and theorizing back to the dinosaurs. Where did that dragon myth get started, anyway? Huge, hot-breathed, winged, lizard-like creatures…. 😉
    Susan Sarah (who knows many of them became birds, or whatever, but that lizard-reptile analogy sure fits!)

    Reply
  62. Absolutely, AgTigress, there are ancient precedents for dragon and monster slaying heroes, and Saint George clicked right into the mold and fed new life into the old myths that were then Christianized. Bellerophon, Perseus, Horus, some others if I recall, though it’s been a while since I looked at the older sources. And Saint George covers a wide range as a patron saint–he was particularly special to England, and in Burgundy and the Netherlands as well, where some gorgeous medieval art was produced to honor him, and his patrons.
    What’s so interesting to me in all of this, as I said above I think, are the archetypes — as AgTigress pointed out, they go way, way back to the ancients. Dragons have ruled in one way or another for a very long time….
    I think we can even take the discussion and theorizing back to the dinosaurs. Where did that dragon myth get started, anyway? Huge, hot-breathed, winged, lizard-like creatures…. 😉
    Susan Sarah (who knows many of them became birds, or whatever, but that lizard-reptile analogy sure fits!)

    Reply
  63. Absolutely, AgTigress, there are ancient precedents for dragon and monster slaying heroes, and Saint George clicked right into the mold and fed new life into the old myths that were then Christianized. Bellerophon, Perseus, Horus, some others if I recall, though it’s been a while since I looked at the older sources. And Saint George covers a wide range as a patron saint–he was particularly special to England, and in Burgundy and the Netherlands as well, where some gorgeous medieval art was produced to honor him, and his patrons.
    What’s so interesting to me in all of this, as I said above I think, are the archetypes — as AgTigress pointed out, they go way, way back to the ancients. Dragons have ruled in one way or another for a very long time….
    I think we can even take the discussion and theorizing back to the dinosaurs. Where did that dragon myth get started, anyway? Huge, hot-breathed, winged, lizard-like creatures…. 😉
    Susan Sarah (who knows many of them became birds, or whatever, but that lizard-reptile analogy sure fits!)

    Reply
  64. Absolutely, AgTigress, there are ancient precedents for dragon and monster slaying heroes, and Saint George clicked right into the mold and fed new life into the old myths that were then Christianized. Bellerophon, Perseus, Horus, some others if I recall, though it’s been a while since I looked at the older sources. And Saint George covers a wide range as a patron saint–he was particularly special to England, and in Burgundy and the Netherlands as well, where some gorgeous medieval art was produced to honor him, and his patrons.
    What’s so interesting to me in all of this, as I said above I think, are the archetypes — as AgTigress pointed out, they go way, way back to the ancients. Dragons have ruled in one way or another for a very long time….
    I think we can even take the discussion and theorizing back to the dinosaurs. Where did that dragon myth get started, anyway? Huge, hot-breathed, winged, lizard-like creatures…. 😉
    Susan Sarah (who knows many of them became birds, or whatever, but that lizard-reptile analogy sure fits!)

    Reply
  65. Mary Jo, it is tough to finish that PhD, though I’m content with the ABD, since I was led to writing novels, something I hadn’t anticipated…yet somehow all that work prepared me to do that. *g*
    Interesting point about the supernatural aspects, Jo. Dragons do have attributed magical powers in some versions, but not all. They’re sometimes very destructive, pissed-off dinosaurian critters…and sometimes they’re as wise as Yoda.
    Though I prefer the cuddly ones…now I’m yearning to have that little stuffed guy I found for the blog…
    he’s available here:
    http://www.plushfriends.com/g20072f.html
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  66. Mary Jo, it is tough to finish that PhD, though I’m content with the ABD, since I was led to writing novels, something I hadn’t anticipated…yet somehow all that work prepared me to do that. *g*
    Interesting point about the supernatural aspects, Jo. Dragons do have attributed magical powers in some versions, but not all. They’re sometimes very destructive, pissed-off dinosaurian critters…and sometimes they’re as wise as Yoda.
    Though I prefer the cuddly ones…now I’m yearning to have that little stuffed guy I found for the blog…
    he’s available here:
    http://www.plushfriends.com/g20072f.html
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  67. Mary Jo, it is tough to finish that PhD, though I’m content with the ABD, since I was led to writing novels, something I hadn’t anticipated…yet somehow all that work prepared me to do that. *g*
    Interesting point about the supernatural aspects, Jo. Dragons do have attributed magical powers in some versions, but not all. They’re sometimes very destructive, pissed-off dinosaurian critters…and sometimes they’re as wise as Yoda.
    Though I prefer the cuddly ones…now I’m yearning to have that little stuffed guy I found for the blog…
    he’s available here:
    http://www.plushfriends.com/g20072f.html
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  68. Mary Jo, it is tough to finish that PhD, though I’m content with the ABD, since I was led to writing novels, something I hadn’t anticipated…yet somehow all that work prepared me to do that. *g*
    Interesting point about the supernatural aspects, Jo. Dragons do have attributed magical powers in some versions, but not all. They’re sometimes very destructive, pissed-off dinosaurian critters…and sometimes they’re as wise as Yoda.
    Though I prefer the cuddly ones…now I’m yearning to have that little stuffed guy I found for the blog…
    he’s available here:
    http://www.plushfriends.com/g20072f.html
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  69. What a wonderful blog! And thanks for the plush dragon link, Susan/Sarah. I just ordered one for the five-year-old grand, who is a great fan of dragons and dinosaurs and stages elaborate plays with his collection.
    I have a theory about the permanent ABD status, at least for grad students in the humanities. I think the greater the love for research, the greater the probability of not completing the dissertation. There just always seems to be one more source that must be checked. So says one who would probably still be researching had she not been blessed with a director who insisted sternly,”You have to let this go NOW. No more research!”

    Reply
  70. What a wonderful blog! And thanks for the plush dragon link, Susan/Sarah. I just ordered one for the five-year-old grand, who is a great fan of dragons and dinosaurs and stages elaborate plays with his collection.
    I have a theory about the permanent ABD status, at least for grad students in the humanities. I think the greater the love for research, the greater the probability of not completing the dissertation. There just always seems to be one more source that must be checked. So says one who would probably still be researching had she not been blessed with a director who insisted sternly,”You have to let this go NOW. No more research!”

    Reply
  71. What a wonderful blog! And thanks for the plush dragon link, Susan/Sarah. I just ordered one for the five-year-old grand, who is a great fan of dragons and dinosaurs and stages elaborate plays with his collection.
    I have a theory about the permanent ABD status, at least for grad students in the humanities. I think the greater the love for research, the greater the probability of not completing the dissertation. There just always seems to be one more source that must be checked. So says one who would probably still be researching had she not been blessed with a director who insisted sternly,”You have to let this go NOW. No more research!”

    Reply
  72. What a wonderful blog! And thanks for the plush dragon link, Susan/Sarah. I just ordered one for the five-year-old grand, who is a great fan of dragons and dinosaurs and stages elaborate plays with his collection.
    I have a theory about the permanent ABD status, at least for grad students in the humanities. I think the greater the love for research, the greater the probability of not completing the dissertation. There just always seems to be one more source that must be checked. So says one who would probably still be researching had she not been blessed with a director who insisted sternly,”You have to let this go NOW. No more research!”

    Reply
  73. Ooooh I’d love to order one of those dragons too. Glad the link was of some help, Janga!
    I’ve known a few grad students who had some trouble letting go of the research–and some authors who have trouble deciding when enough is enough on a book as well. Most do have a good sense when it’s done and are glad to let go of it, and I’m usually in the latter camp — get it OFF my desk, I’m so done with those characters/that subject!
    I’m ABD mostly because babies (and risky pregnancies) didn’t mix with intense scholarly pursuits, and that’s about it, I didn’t go back. Now intense writing pursuits swallow my time and energy, but at least the wee ones are big guys now, and what a relief that is!
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  74. Ooooh I’d love to order one of those dragons too. Glad the link was of some help, Janga!
    I’ve known a few grad students who had some trouble letting go of the research–and some authors who have trouble deciding when enough is enough on a book as well. Most do have a good sense when it’s done and are glad to let go of it, and I’m usually in the latter camp — get it OFF my desk, I’m so done with those characters/that subject!
    I’m ABD mostly because babies (and risky pregnancies) didn’t mix with intense scholarly pursuits, and that’s about it, I didn’t go back. Now intense writing pursuits swallow my time and energy, but at least the wee ones are big guys now, and what a relief that is!
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  75. Ooooh I’d love to order one of those dragons too. Glad the link was of some help, Janga!
    I’ve known a few grad students who had some trouble letting go of the research–and some authors who have trouble deciding when enough is enough on a book as well. Most do have a good sense when it’s done and are glad to let go of it, and I’m usually in the latter camp — get it OFF my desk, I’m so done with those characters/that subject!
    I’m ABD mostly because babies (and risky pregnancies) didn’t mix with intense scholarly pursuits, and that’s about it, I didn’t go back. Now intense writing pursuits swallow my time and energy, but at least the wee ones are big guys now, and what a relief that is!
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  76. Ooooh I’d love to order one of those dragons too. Glad the link was of some help, Janga!
    I’ve known a few grad students who had some trouble letting go of the research–and some authors who have trouble deciding when enough is enough on a book as well. Most do have a good sense when it’s done and are glad to let go of it, and I’m usually in the latter camp — get it OFF my desk, I’m so done with those characters/that subject!
    I’m ABD mostly because babies (and risky pregnancies) didn’t mix with intense scholarly pursuits, and that’s about it, I didn’t go back. Now intense writing pursuits swallow my time and energy, but at least the wee ones are big guys now, and what a relief that is!
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply

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