Dragons and Vikings

30 08 2008

 

I am beginning the research phase for a few features on the Vikings and thier conversion to Christianity.  I was reading a translation last night of an early Norse Saga.  The introduction included the following description of the region we know today as the Ukraine and North/Western Russia.

The northern part of Swithiod lies uninhabited on account of frost and cold, as likewise the southern parts of Blueland are waste from the burning of the sun.  In Swithiod are many great domains, and many races of men, and many kinds of languages.  There are giants, and there are dwarfs, and there are also blue men, and there are any kinds of stranger creatures.  There are huge wild beasts, and dreadful dragons.

I’m intrigued by the reference to dragons.  I know that some people point to early writings like this which are also full of fanciful stories of Odin to suggest that dragons are merely mythical.  However, an interesting article by Timofey Alferov suggests that these dragons may have been dinosaur decendants of those that had been saved from the flood (article available here).  If dragons were real creatures it wouldn’t be surpising that dragons show up in mythology of both the Norse (those west of the Volga river) and in Asian cultures (east of the Volga river).

From Job 40:

15 “Look now at the behemoth, which I made along with you;
      He eats grass like an ox. 
16 See now, his strength is in his hips,
      And his power is in his stomach muscles.
17 He moves his tail like a cedar;
      The sinews of his thighs are tightly knit.
18 His bones are like beams of bronze,
      His ribs like bars of iron.
19 He is the first of the ways of God;
      Only He who made him can bring near His sword.
20 Surely the mountains yield food for him,
      And all the beasts of the field play there.
21 He lies under the lotus trees,
      In a covert of reeds and marsh.
22 The lotus trees cover him with their shade;
      The willows by the brook surround him.
23 Indeed the river may rage,
      Yet he is not disturbed;
      He is confident, though the Jordan gushes into his mouth,
24 Though he takes it in his eyes,
      Or one pierces his nose with a snare.

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