Thursday, March 24, 2011


When I was in sixth grade, we had to do a report on Dragons. We were studying Medieval times and I think that the idea was to teach us as students about the mythology of the time and to help remove caricatured perceptions of medieval times.

I picked up two books; one was some kind of a high school-level(ish) text on the development of dragon mythology, which I did not understand. The other book that I found was a pseudo-zoological study called
Dragons and Unicorns: A Natural History. The book goes through a possible evolution of each of the animals and different subspecies. It's quite a fascinating portrait.
Dragons and Unicorns: A Natural History
I remembered this because of the piece I posted about yesterday on unicorns. I thought, overall, that the panel was pretty fascinating. I was especially amused by the use of narwhal horn being sold as unicorn horn. Melvyn Bragg, once again [1], got into a minor conflict with one of the established scholars he brought on to talk because he was less interested in the importance of the mythology than the "real world" correlation between myth and unicorns.

As someone who enjoys Herodotus, I found the discussion of the historians who retold alleged sightings of unicorns and the fact that unicorns were not just a powerful symbol but something in which people truly believed. This reminded me of things such as dog-sized gold-digging ants in Herodotus.

  1. Melvyn Bragg got into a slightly more stroppy with a scholar during the poetics.

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