The Dragon in the West: From Ancient Myth to Modern Legend – Professor Daniel Ogden

How did the dragon get its wings? Everyone in the modern West has a clear idea of what a dragon looks like and of the sorts of stories it inhabits, not least devotees of the fantasies of J. R. R. Tolkien, J. K. Rowling, and George R. R. Martin. A cross between a snake and some fearsome mammal, often sporting colossal wings, they live in caves, lie on treasure, maraud, and breathe fire. They are extraordinarily powerful, but even so, ultimately defeated in their battles with humans. What is the origin of this creature?

Professor Ogden’s book The Dragon in the West was published in 2021 – the first serious and substantial account in any language of the evolution of the modern dragon from its ancient forebears. Daniel Ogden’s detailed exploration begins with the drakōn of Greek myth and the draco of the dragon-loving Romans, and a look at the ancient world’s female dragons. It brings the story forwards though Christian writings, medieval illustrated manuscripts, and the lives of dragon-duelling saints


Daniel Ogden is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Exeter. His previous publications include: Polygamy, Prostitutes and Death: The Hellenistic Dynasties (1999; 2nd ed., 2023); (ed.) The Hellenistic World: New Perspectives (2002); (co-ed. with Elizabeth Carney) Philip and Alexander: Father and Son, Lives and Afterlives (2010); Alexander the Great: Myth, Genesis and Sexuality (2011); and The Legend of Seleucus (Cambridge, 2017).

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6th Nov 2024 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

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