Archive file# r112899a
donated by L. Savage
On the Existence of Dragons ...
Now as they descended the mountain, they say a they came in for a dragon hunt, which I must needs describe. For it is utterly
absurd for those who are amateurs of hare-hunting to spin yarns about the hare as to how it is caught or ought to be caught, and
yet that we should omit to describe a chase as bold as it is wonderful, and in which the sage was careful to assist; so I have
written the following account of it: The whole of India is girt with dragons of enormous size; for not only the marshes are full
of them, but the mountains as well, and there is not a single ridge without one. Now the marsh kind are sluggish in their habits
and are thirty cubits long, and they have no crest standing up on their heads, but in this respect resemble the she-dragons.
Their backs however are very black, with fewer scales on them than the other kinds; and Homer has described them with
deeper insight than have most poets, for he says that the dragon that lived hard by the spring in Aulis had a tawny back; but
other poets declare that the congener of this one in the grove of Nemea also had a crest, a feature which we could not verify
in regard to the marsh dragons.
AND the dragons along the foothills and the mountain crests make their way into the plains after their quarry, and prey upon
all the creatures in the marshes; for indeed they reach an extreme length, and move faster than the swiftest rivers, so that
nothing escapes them. These actually have a crest, of moderate extent and height when they are young; but as they reach their
full size, it grows with them and extends to a considerable height, at which time also they turn red and get serrated backs.
This kind also have beards, and lift their necks on high, while their scales glitter like silver; and the pupils of their eyes
consist of a fiery stone, and they say that this has an uncanny power for many secret purposes. The plain specimen falls the
prize of the hunters whenever it draws upon itself an elephant; for the destruction of both creatures is the result, and those
who capture the dragons are rewarded by getting the eyes and skin and teeth. In most respects they resemble the largest swine,
but they are slighter in build and 'flexible, and they have teeth as sharp and indestructible as those of the largest fishes.
Now the dragons of the mountains have scales of a golden colour, and in length excel those of the plain, and they have bushy
beards, which also are of a golden hue; and their eyebrows are more prominent than those of the plain, and their eye is sunk
deep under the eyebrow, and emits a terrible and ruthless glance. And they give off a noise like the clashing of brass
whenever they are burrowing under the earth, and from their crests, which are all fiery red there flashes a fire brighter than a
torch. They also can catch the elephants, though they are themselves caught by the Indians in the following manner. They
embroider golden runes on a scarlet cloak, which they lay in front of the animal's burrow after charming them to sleep with
the runes; for this is the only way to overcome the eyes of the dragon, which are otherwise inflexible, and much mysterious
lore is sung by them to overcome him. These runes induce the dragon to stretch his neck out of his burrow and fall asleep over
them: then the lndians fall upon him as he lies there, and despatch him with blows of their axes, and having cut off the head
they despoil it of its gems. And they say that in the heads of the mountain dragons there are stored away stones of flowery
colour, which flash out all kinds of hues, and possess a mystical power if set in a ring; like that which they say belonged to
Gyges. But often the Indian, in spite of his axe and his cunning, is caught by the dragon, who carries him off into his burrow
and almost shakes the mountains as he disappears. These are also said to inhabit the mountains in the neighbourhood of the
Red Sea, and they say that they heard them hissing terribly and that they saw them go down to the shore and swim far out into
the sea. It was impossible however to ascertain the number of years that this creature lives, nor would my statements be
believed. This is all I know about dragons.
THEY tell us that the city under the mountain is of great size and is called Parax, and that in the centre of it are stored up a
great many heads of dragons, for the Indians who inhabit it are trained from their boyhood in this form of sport. And they are
also said to acquire an understanding of the language and ideas of animals by feeding either on the heart or the liver of the
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