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European Dragon Lesson for Kids: Names & Mythology

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

Dragons have been a part of mythology and literature for hundreds of years. In this lesson, you'll learn about the European dragon. Read on to find out what it looked like and how it behaved, and discover some famous dragons.

What's a Dragon?

You've probably seen a lot of dragons in movies or read about them in books. European dragons are ones that are described in stories and myths from countries in Europe like Germany, England, Greece, and Italy, and they are nasty and cruel animals. They usually live in caves, where they often guard hoards of gold and treasure, and they're known for eating humans and livestock.

The European dragon has wings and a long tail with a spike on the end of it, making the tail useful as a weapon. Some stories claim that the blood of the dragon is poisonous. Dragons breathe fire, or may have poisonous breath. They usually have either two or four legs, although a basilisk is a dragon-like creature that has no legs at all.

Beowulf and the Dragon
Beowulf

Another feature of European dragons is that they're covered with tough scales that protect them like a suit of armor. They often have spikes down their backs and tails. These dragons are said to have a forked tongue and many sharp teeth. A special characteristic of a European dragon is the 'dracontia,' which looks like a third eye. It's said to be a gem or precious stone that gives the dragon magical powers.

Lindwurms and Tatzlwurms

Stories about dragons and dragon-like creatures have been told for hundreds of years. In Germany, the Lindwurm was a legless, dragon-like creature, with wings and greenish-gold or greenish-silver scales. Lindwurms guarded treasure.

Lindwurm
lindwurm

Another German dragon was the Tatzlwurm, which could breathe fire. It was a huge monster with wings, and four legs with claws. The Tatzlwurm lived in the mountains and liked to eat cattle and lost children.

Dragons in Mythology

The word 'dragon' actually comes from the Greek word drakon, which means 'to watch.' In many tales, dragons have treasures or other valuable items that they are guarding. In ruins of Greek and Roman temples that survive today, you can see statues and images of dragons that were put there to guard the temples.

One famous dragon in Greek mythology is Typhon. He was so large that the sun's light could be blocked by his wings, and his head could touch the stars. Typhon could not only breathe fire, but also spit out rocks. When Zeus, the king of the gods, killed Typhon, he was buried under a mountain called Mt. Etna. Mt. Etna, which is actually a volcano, would sometimes spit out smoke and stones. This led people to believe that the dragon would someday come alive again.

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