Types of Dragons

amphiptere

This post showcases a range of different dragon types.

Different Dragon Types

    1. Wyvern
    2. Basilisk
    3. Hydra
    4. Amphiptere
    5. Guivre / Gargouille
    6. Dragonet
    7. Drake
    8. Faerie
    9. Lindworm
    10. Wyrm

1. Wyvern

wyvern2
Carlisle City Council, Coat of Arms

1. This type of dragon originated in Europe

2. Nearly always depicted as having two bird-like legs and two wings, sometimes with eagle’s claws on the wingtips

3. Some had a serpent’s head and the hind end of a serpent or lizard

4. Wyverns have been depicted in heraldry on shields, coats of arms and banners for hundreds of years, and are a symbol of strength and endurance

5. Name derived from the Saxon word Wivere, which means “serpent”

Image from Dragon School and Chevin.

6. Other variations include:

  • Wyvere [Middle English which means “viper”]
  • Wouive, Vouivre [names for the French Wyvern]
  • Old English form: Wyvre
  • Old North French: Wivre

7. The French Wyvern is depicted with the head and upper body of a voluptuous woman. A ruby set between her eyes helps her find her way through the Underworld

8. Wyverns became vicious and sinister creatures of pure evil in Western culture

9. Delighted in killing young maidens, other wyverns and relishing the taste of human flesh

10. Modern depictions of wyverns include:

  • Fiery beady red eyes
  • Foul-smelling poisonous and corrupt breath
  • A razor sharp stinger filled with poison on the end of their tails

11. Came to symbolise envy, famine, war and hatred

12. This depiction of wyverns is associated with pestilence and viciousness

2. Basilisk

basilisk
Basilisk fountain in Basel, Switzerland. From Basel Journal.

1. One of the most feared monsters in the early Western world

2. Small, horrific reptile

3. Large tuft on its head represented a crown

4. Had thick bird-like legs

5. Hailed as king of the serpents

6. Derived from the Greek word basileus meaning “little king”

7. Other variations include: Regulus [Latin]

8. Could split boulders with a single glance from their deadly eyes

9. Noxious breath would wither trees and bushes

10. Streams and rivers they drank from would be permanently poisoned

11. Odour of its sweat was foul and toxic

12. Land they passed through would become barren wasteland

13. These would counter the basilisk’s lethal powers:

  • The weasel [somehow immune to its death-dealing gaze]
  • The rooster [the basilisk would flee at the rooster’s crowing]
  • The Rue plant [could withstand the basilisk’s breath and was used by weasels to heal themselves if they were attacked by the basilisk]

14. Became known as the cockatrice in medieval times because of depictions with a cockerel’s head and feathered wings

15. Would be destroyed by seeing its own reflection in a mirror

3. Hydra

hydra_sargent
Hercules and the Hydra. By John Singer Sargent.

1. Originated in ancient Greece

2. Related to the Chimera, Ceberus, and Ladon, the ferocious dragon protector of the garden of the Hesperides and its golden apples

3. Had nine horned dragon heads which would duplicate when cut off

4. Was a long writhing water snake which resided in Lake Lerna

5. Hercules had to serve King Eurystheus of Tiryns for 12 years and perform 10 labours for him so that he could be purified for killing his sons during a moment of insanity

6. Vanquishing the Hydra was Hercule’s second task

7. Hercules was aided by Iolaus who suggested searing the Hydra’s necks after Hercule’s cut them off

8. This cut the blood flow and new heads were prevented from growing

9. The Hydra died after all the heads were slain except for an immortal head, which Hercules and Iolaus buried under a rock

10. The rock is said to be found on the road from Lerna to Elaeus

11. The Hydra’s gall was poisonous, so Hercules dipped his arrows in them. This would later cause Hercules’s death.

12. The Constellation Hydra is the longest constellation in the sky and the largest in terms of area

13. Hydra’s brightest star is called Alphard, which means “the solitary one”

14. Located in the area of the sky known as “the Sea”, it is said to represent the great dragon of chaos, Tiamat, in early Babylonian mythology

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4. Amphiptere

amphiptere
Amphiptere, by William O’Connor in Dracopedia.

1. An amphiptere resembles a large snake with two feathered wings, but with a dragon’s head

2. They are the most serpent-like dragons; they have no legs

3. Related to the wyvern

4. Also known as jaculus, and javelin-snake

5. The Henham [Essex, England] Amphiptere was as thick as a man’s leg and was about 9 feet [3 m] long

6. Had two tongues – one normal, the other shaped like an arrow

7. Villagers managed to shoo it simply by hurling a few stones and farming tools at it [wasn’t it a nice fellow]

8. The Arabian Amphiptere lives in treetops, mainly the frankincense trees of Arabia

9. If an animal comes too close to the trees, the amphiptere falls backwards from high in the branches and stabs the animal with its barbed tail

10. This causes death to most animals, including humans

11. The Quetzalcoatl was a kind of Amphiptere

12. The Quetzalcoatl was a feathered snake god dating as far back as the Mayan culture of Mexico [500 B.C – A.D. 900]

13. Also known as a dragon-being who created the fifth cycle of mankind by using ancestral ashes and bones to create the human body

14. Was conceived after his mother swallowed a piece of jade

15. Aztec, Toltec and Middle American legends also attribute him with being the son of the virgin goddess Coatlicue

16. The god was a symbol of wisdom, life and the wind

17. In dragon form, the quetzacoatl was a magnificent sky dragon that streaked across the sky in resplendent emerald plumes

18. It was actually identified by zoologists as being a mythological fusion of a serpent and quetzal bird

5. Guivre, Gargouille

Guivre, Dragon of France.

1. Guivres plagued France during the medieval times

2. Their breath was toxic and spread diseases

3. Guivres represented death and destruction

4. Could be defeated by a novel means

5. The sight of a naked man left them witless

6. Used to good effect because:

  • no guivre came close again to human habitation
  • they eventually disappeared from France!

7. The Gargouille spout fountains of water instead of toxins

8. First emerged from the Seine waters in the year 520

9. Described as having a long, reptilian neck, a slender snout and jaws, heavy brows, and membranous wings

10. Dubbed “gargouille” or “gargler” by the locals after the entire region was severely flooded by the jets of water that spewed out of the gargouille’s throat

11. This gargouille was defeated by an archbishop who placed two fingers against one another in the form of the Cross

12. Gargoyles derive their name and water-spouting talents from gargouilles

13. Churches and cathedrals in France and around the world still have gargoyles

14. They sit on their haunches, projecting outwards so that water is drained and spouted well clear of the base of the building

15. Gargoyle figures served the role of books during the Medieval period too, telling stories and reporting on life because many people were illiterate

6. Dragonet

dragonet
A Methindor dragon delivers this dragonet back to his family. The dragonet had been taken away in a dreadful cage. Detailed pewter from the Tudor Mint, England.

1. Small dragon, slightly larger than a man.

2. This doesn’t mean they were any less deadly.

3. The Dragon of Mt. Pilatus had blood that was instantly lethal.

4. These dragons like cool air.

5. Dragonets are described as having slender jaws, long necks, and pointed wings.

6. In Middle English, dragonet means a “young dragon”.

7. In Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series, a dragonet’s internal clock is set to wake every morning when the sun rises.

7. Drake

drake_dragon
The illustration depicts the Spanish eagle above the Drake-dragon. La Dragontea, etc. From The British Library

1. Relatively young in comparison to their ancient Dragon brethren.

2. Drakes are always flying when moving. Many dragons typically walk while moving.

3. Drakes have four legs, and are very much like western dragons.

4. Can grow to be approx 60 feet (18m) long.

5. Appear in Teutonic myths.

6. A common breed of winged, fire-breathing dragon, known to terrorize villages.

7. Nest in rocky cliffs, and/or other inaccessible places.

8. Four powerful legs armed with razor sharp claws are capable of cutting through all but the strongest armour.

9. Fire Drakes are reddish and have a firey breath weapon. They spout great gouts of withering flame upon their foes. A light shimmer of heat may rise from their body.

10. Cold Drakes are usually white or bluish and breathe frost, snow, and hail. They fight using tooth and claw.

11. Winged Drakes are the most terrifying of all dragons. Their huge bat-like wings allow them to take to the air and wreak havoc on their enemies from above.

12. Smaug the Golden from “The Hobbit” was a winged drake.

13. Drakes are more than capable of destroying entire armies single-handed.

14. Beowulf fought a Firedrake.

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8. Faerie

Photography Prints
1. Thought to be the tiniest dragons.

2. The faerie dragon makes its home amidst the tangled forests of the world.

3. Can also be found in extremely secluded natural areas, especially areas with flowers and water.

4. Faerie dragons are about one foot long. They have thin bodies, long tails, gossamer butterfly wings, and huge smiles.

5. Their colors range through the spectrum, changing as they age, from the red of a hatchling to the black of a great wyrm.

6. The hides of females have a golden tinge that sparkles in the sunlight; males have a silver tinge.

7. They are linguists, well-versed in Draconic, Human, and Elven tongues.

8. Some say they can turn invisible.

9. Faerie dragons can communicate telepathically with one another, within a range of 2 miles.

10. Quick flying dragons.

11. While often depicted with butterfly wings, wings may also be faerie-like instead.

12. Faerie dragons may often take great amounts of time just to prepare one joke; they also often enlist the help of pixies and sprites.

13. Most faerie dragons have a temperament that is Chaotic Good. They have pure intentions, but are extremely fond of mischief.

9. Lindorm

lindworm
Lindworm (Draco Serpentalis)

1. Similar to the European Wyrm.

2. Falls between the birdlike wyvern and the snakelike guivre. Has a serpentine body with one pair of legs, or forelimbs.

3. Lindworms cannot fly.

4. The name consists of two Germanic roots meaning “ensnaring serpent”.

5. Are supposedly very large and eat cattle, horses, and human bodies. They also invade churches and churchyards.

6. Would also dig up corpses in churchyards, which contributes to their reputation as a creature of death, war and disease.

7. In legend, the hero Siegfried conquered a lindwyrm that lived near the town of Worms in Germany.

8. In 1335, when the skull of a wooly rhinoceros was found in a cave nearby Klagenfurt in Germany, it was believed to be a dragon’s skull.

9. In Nordic and German heraldry, the lindworm is the same as a wyvern, though the folkloric lindworm lacks wings.

10. The Italian traveller, Marco Polo, wrote of the lindworm in his travelogue. The book title I know of is “The Description of the World beyond Venice”.

10. Wyrm

wyrm
“The Swamp Wyrm.” Copyright Jeff Lee Johnsen.

1. Wyrms resemble gigantic serpents, crawling on their bellies without legs or wings.

2. Their lack of limbs should not lead to underestimation, as their snapping jaws and powerful tails are more than adequate to dispatch all but the strongest.

3. Wyrms are of European origin.

4. Found mainly in England and the Northern territories.

5. Have a layer of hard, protective scales.

6. Wyrms like to live in watery depths. They also like to coil around things, like hills.

7. The Lambton Worm was drawn out of a well, and was said to dwell in Lambton Hall after cursing the heir(s) to the Lambton castle.

8. Scatha the Worm, was a mighty long worm dragon of the Grey Mountains. Scatha is in the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien.

9. Wyrms are associated with all round mean-ness.

10. “Worm” is often used as a derogatory term to dragons, so be selective with its usage.

11. No wings, and usually no limbs.

12. Can rejoin themselves if cut into pieces.

References: Dragons: A Natural History, by Dr. Karl Shuker, The Serene Dragon (old URL), The Phoenixian Book of Creatures


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