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Origins of Dragons - Theories and researches

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  • Origins of Dragons - Theories and researches

    With coming book Scion: Dragon, I think in order is topic about researching Dragons in myths. Here is great compilation why humans in almost all cultures on Earth have myths about Dragons.



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  • #2
    Oh... Extra Mythology. :/

    Okay you may not have known but I'll just make this a public announcement: Extra Mythology is hot garbage of the worst kind and should never be used as a resource by anybody for anything, except possibly as a resource for "How Much Can One Channel Fuck Things Up?" Their videos about Aztec Myth and Celtic Myth are especially egregious.

    Like, their research is exceptionally poor. I remember our forum's own Watcher did a breakdown of their first Celtic Myth video. His final takeaway was essentially "How do you make Scion 1e's Tuatha writeup look like a sourced academic paper by comparison?!"

    And, the kicker, is that between parts 1 and 2 of their Celtic Myth video, Watcher contacted James from Extra Credits, going "Hey I'm actually working on this and I can get you translations to the source material so you can do a correction video later or something" and he basically got laughed off, since they found a source (from a guy basically laughed out of the field) and were sticking to it. So not only did they present lies and fabrications as heavily researched fact, but they also turned away someone willing to give them better information.

    That's not even getting into how they're being especially "Well everything with scales in myth is some kind of dragon" which is a topic that's come up as Troubled in the OTHER Scion Dragon thread, but mostly I just wanted to mention this to anybody who may click on this thread:

    tl;dr - The video being linked is a bad source done with bad research and run by a guy who refused input from an expert in a different topic because he made up his mind already. Do not use it as a source for anything


    Disclaimer: I'll huff, grump, and defend my position, but if you're having fun I'll never say you're doing it wrong.

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    • #3
      Big issue we have here is one that is fairly difficult to answer.

      What is and is not, a Dragon? What does a Dragon mean? What role does said Dragon Play?
      Because there are many different beings that could be considered a Dragon, the Tarasque was said to be a dragon despite being mostly Mammalian, while Apep, despite being a huge Serpant, likely isn't. Au Guong despite being a fairly big jerk, was still an important member of the Shen and one of the 4 Dragon Kings of the Seas, meanwhile the Hydra is basically pure poison with a single immortal head (Greek immortality, so Herc needed to bury it under a huge rock) is also considered a Dragon, and if you Planted the teeth of some Dragons in the dirt, they would emerge as Warriors who, after you make them fight amongst themselves, would later obey your commands. Norse Dragons like Fafnir were Greed personified, being the negative consequences of Hoarding wealth. Tiamat has been conflated with a Dragon, but so has Kukulkan and they are vastly different deities.

      One can't just try and say all Dragons are the same when it very clearly is not true.

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      • #4
        You know why I think so many cultures have a "Large reptile that if you squint and are a little high you COULD call it a dragon"?

        Because lizards and snakes exist.

        And people throughout history looked at them and went "Wow, a big one of those would be scary"

        Where's my dishonorary degree in applied anthropology?


        Disclaimer: I'll huff, grump, and defend my position, but if you're having fun I'll never say you're doing it wrong.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Kyman201 View Post
          You know why I think so many cultures have a "Large reptile that if you squint and are a little high you COULD call it a dragon"?

          Because lizards and snakes exist.

          And people throughout history looked at them and went "Wow, a big one of those would be scary"

          Where's my dishonorary degree in applied anthropology?
          while Extra Mythology clearly has no standards in the sources they use, I do think there’s some merit to dinosaur bones underlying creatures with similar morphologies in various world mythologies


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          • #6
            Originally posted by Kyman201 View Post
            Oh... Extra Mythology. :/

            Okay you may not have known but I'll just make this a public announcement: Extra Mythology is hot garbage of the worst kind and should never be used as a resource by anybody for anything, except possibly as a resource for "How Much Can One Channel Fuck Things Up?" Their videos about Aztec Myth and Celtic Myth are especially egregious.
            That's disappointing. I thought that their first few videos were pretty okay (mostly because they heavily emphasized that they were being incredibly reductive), but I stopped watching Extra Credits as a whole after the harassment incident last year and haven't been keeping up.


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            • #7
              Originally posted by Errol216 View Post
              That's disappointing. I thought that their first few videos were pretty okay (mostly because they heavily emphasized that they were being incredibly reductive), but I stopped watching Extra Credits as a whole after the harassment incident last year and haven't been keeping up.
              If you want some decent if simplified 101 stuff, look up the Miscellaneous Myths by Overly Sarcastic Productions. Sometimes the stuff is a bit simplified but Red doesn't really outright lie.


              Disclaimer: I'll huff, grump, and defend my position, but if you're having fun I'll never say you're doing it wrong.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Penguinbowler View Post
                Big issue we have here is one that is fairly difficult to answer.

                What is and is not, a Dragon? What does a Dragon mean? What role does said Dragon Play?
                Because there are many different beings that could be considered a Dragon, the Tarasque was said to be a dragon despite being mostly Mammalian, while Apep, despite being a huge Serpant, likely isn't. Au Guong despite being a fairly big jerk, was still an important member of the Shen and one of the 4 Dragon Kings of the Seas, meanwhile the Hydra is basically pure poison with a single immortal head (Greek immortality, so Herc needed to bury it under a huge rock) is also considered a Dragon, and if you Planted the teeth of some Dragons in the dirt, they would emerge as Warriors who, after you make them fight amongst themselves, would later obey your commands. Norse Dragons like Fafnir were Greed personified, being the negative consequences of Hoarding wealth. Tiamat has been conflated with a Dragon, but so has Kukulkan and they are vastly different deities.

                One can't just try and say all Dragons are the same when it very clearly is not true.
                There's a fairly simple answer to that problem, though not a very fashionable one - what can and can't be called a dragon shouldn't extend beyond Europe. The word itself has a history, deriving from the Greek drakon via Latin draco, and I think that should lead us in our application of the term. Everything derived from that prototype is a dragon, everything that isn't, isn't. So there can't be dragons as such outside Europe; even for East Asia, indigenous terms like long, ryu, etc. are to be preferred. That automatically solves the issues in trying to bring both the water-focussed, potentially benevolent East Asian "dragons" and European dragons with their focus on fire and malice under one term. Their only similarity is that both are rendered as "dragon" in English, but that's ultimately just the mythological equivalent of 4Kids localising rice cakes as hamburgers back in their old anime dubs. Additionally, I'd also say that not every big reptiloid in European lore is automatically a dragon. For example, while the firewyrm of the Beowulf epic fits the bill of European dragon perfectly and certainly derives from Christian conceptions of that being, applying that term to Jörmungandr is far more difficult. Jörmungandr is a being of water, a sea serpent, more akin to the Greek ketos (Latin cetus) than the usually terrestrial drakon; unlike with the firewyrm, an origin of Jörmungandr in the Romano-Christian cultural complex is unlikely. So I'd personally hold back on calling it a dragon. And the Tarasque is an even weirder case - while definitely assimilated to the dragon of St George in the Christian hagiography of St Martha, the origins of the Tarasque are probably Gaulish and not necessarily draconian (Watcher could tell you more about that). So yeah, maybe it takes the fun out of things a little, but I really see no mystery or problem with "dragons" appearing all over the world. That's a problem of perception, not of origins. And it doesn't mean one has to call Ao Guang a long wang instead of a Dragon King (though admit it, it's pretty funny calling him that). But one shouldn't let this simplification of terminology mislead oneself into believing there is a mysterious problem where there isn't.

                Originally posted by glamourweaver View Post
                while Extra Mythology clearly has no standards in the sources they use, I do think there’s some merit to dinosaur bones underlying creatures with similar morphologies in various world mythologies
                Oh, it absolutely has merit. The wonderful Classicist Adrienne Mayor has written two books on the topic which, if you don't know them yet, you might enjoy:
                https://www.amazon.com/First-Fossil-.../dp/0691058636
                https://www.amazon.com/Fossil-Legend.../dp/0691130493

                On that note, I wouldn't completely discard their idea of "universal ophidophobia" entirely either. Great reptiles do play a role around the world, in spite of the narrow definition of dragon I attempted above. And something like that might help explain it, though when you burn it down like this, it's really just: "Reptiles are kinda impressive." As are bovines. And birds. And thunder. And the sun, moon, and stars. Just to name a few other of the "mysteriously" universal mythological motifs. For all the diversity around the world, we are after all one species with common neurological capacities, and the same things are bound to inspire us - though, and I emphasise that, in vastly different ways! Yes, the Mexica, Lakota, and Yanomami all have thunder deities. But one is a goggle-eyed blue man with anger management issues, one a bi-sexed bird living at the edge of the cosmos, and one a fucking tapir. What's interesting is not why everyone is impressed with thunder all around the world. It's understanding why that universal stimulus provoked this cultural reaction out of an infinite number of possibilities, and understanding what this expression means within the broader cultural framework. But you don't get to the answers to these questions with Structuralist approaches like ExtraCredits attempted here (you also don't get answers by reading no further than Wikipedia, but that's the EC standard technique, soooo ...)

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                • #9
                  What's this about a Yanomami tapir thunder god?

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                  • #10
                    My personal term for the ketos is the Oceanic Death Snake, and it's a very Mediterranean phenomenon. (The Hydra is more properly one of these rather than a fiery drakon, too!) They're super fun.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Wannabe Demon Lord View Post
                      What's this about a Yanomami tapir thunder god?
                      That's honestly all I know about them, but it was too fun an example not to use it XD


                      Originally posted by MorsRattus View Post
                      My personal term for the ketos is the Oceanic Death Snake, and it's a very Mediterranean phenomenon. (The Hydra is more properly one of these rather than a fiery drakon, too!) They're super fun.
                      Correct me if I'm mistaken, but I don't think there are any fiery drakones, seeing as I don't think there are any fiery repitle-beings for Greek mythology at all. I also wouldn't call the Hydra a ketos, though I do agree that it is in a weird category separate from drakones/dragons for sure. By name, it is no more than a water-dwelling snake; the Water Snake of Lerna the way there's a Nemean Lion and a Calydonian Boar. With its swampy habitat and associations with poison and rot, I'd actually say the Hydra is closest in associations to the drakainai, the feminine, sometimes half-human freshwater "dragons" like Ekhidna and Python. Literature most often likens them to eels in addition to serpents, so maybe this is in fact a sub-category to its own. But really, ultimately this drive to classify only takes one so far, and I guess it's always best to take a creature on its own terms without comparison and systematisation, if possible.

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                      • #12
                        Fair enough.

                        I just like saying Oceanic Death Snake.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MorsRattus View Post
                          Fair enough.

                          I just like saying Oceanic Death Snake.
                          Absolutely. Very important and aptly descriptive term! I was merely pointing out that the Hydra is more of the Fatal Freshwater type, to be contrasted with Oceanic Death Snakes, Terrestrial Terror Serpents, and Fiendish Fire Flap-flaps.

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