In Greece the word drakōn, from which the English word was derived, was used originally for any large serpent (see sea serpent), and the dragon of mythology, whatever shape it later assumed, remained essentially a snake.
In general, in the Middle Eastern world, where snakes are large and deadly, the serpent or dragon was symbolic of the principle of evil. But the Greeks and Romans, though accepting the Middle Eastern idea of the serpent as an evil power, also at times conceived the drakontes as beneficent powers—sharp-eyed dwellers in the inner parts of the Earth.
On the whole, however, the evil reputation of dragons was the stronger, and in Europe it outlived the other. Christianity confused the ancient benevolent and malevolent serpent deities in a common condemnation. In Christian art the dragon came to be symbolic of sin and paganism and, as such, was depicted prostrate beneath the heels of saints and martyrs.
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Factoid of the Week:
The name dragon is derived from the Latin word ‘draconem’ which means ‘huge serpent’.
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So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their ending! -J. R. R. Tolkien
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