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Drakon: Dragon Myth and Serpent Cult in the Greek and Roman Wolrdsis the first substantial survey to be focally devoted to the 'dragon' or the supernatural serpent, thedrakonordraco, in Greek and Roman myth and religion. Almost every major myth cycle of the Greek and Roman worlds featured a dragon-fight at its heart, including the sagas of Heracles, Jason, Perseus, Cadmus, and Odysseus. Asclepius, the single most beloved and influential of the pagan gods from the late Classical period until Late Antiquity, was often manifest as a giant serpent and even in his humanoid aspect carried a serpent on his staff. Detailed and authoritative, but lucidly presented, this volume incorporates analyses of all of antiquity's major dragon-slaying myths, and offers comprehensive accounts of the rich sources, literary and iconographic. Ogden also explores matters of cult and the initially paradoxical association of dragons and serpents with the most benign of deities, not only those of health and healing, like Asclepius and Hygieia, but also those of wealth and good luck, such as Zeus Meilichios and Agathos Daimon. The concluding chapter considers the roles of both pagan dragon-slaying narratives and pagan serpent cults in shaping the beginnings of the tradition of the saintly dragon- and serpent-slaying tales we cherish still, the tradition that culminates in our own stories of Saints George and Patrick.
Daniel Ogden is currently Professor of Ancient History at the University of Exeter, and Research Fellow at the University of South Africa. He has published widely on ancient Greek subjects, including myth, religion and magic, traditional narratives, reproduction and sexuality, and Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic dynasties.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements Contents List of figures Abbreviations Introduction 1. Drakon Fights (i): Drakontes Pure 2. Drakon Fights (ii): Drakontes Composite 3. Fights with Kete, Sea-serpents 4. The World of the Slain Drakontes 5. Masters and Mistresses of Drakontes 6. The Symmetrical Battle between Drakon and Slayer 7. Drakontes, Earth and the Dead 8. Drakon Gods of Wealth and Good Luck 9. Drakon Gods of Healing 10. A Day in the Life of a Sacred Snake 11. The Birth of the Christian Dragon Bibliography Index