To answer your last post on the crypto forum, the Hebrew/Christian religious teachings didn't introduce the idea of dragons to the Romans, they were already widely believed in. The famous poet Lucan wrote a poem about flying dragons chasing african herds, Scientists like Pliny the Elder wrote of their habits, suggesting personal observation and there were many representations of them. This man was no crackpot, but the commander of the Roman Fleet based in Naples. These creatures were completely "real" to the Roman world, as surely as any elephant or lion, although unlike these animals, dragons were recognized as servants to their Gods just as in the Judao Christian religions. For example a dragon loyal to Aries guarded the Golden Fleece in a tree, and this fleece granted eternal life, just as the fruit of the tree guarded by a dragon in the Hebrew Eden story, originally a Sumerian story where the dragon's role as its guardian is even clearer. Just as the Jewish God sent dragon servants to punish humans, so did the dragons were sent by Gods to punish humans in Greco-Roman and other cultures. Dragons for example were sent by Athena to devour a priest and his sons who was going to reveal the secret of the Greeks hiding in the Trojan Horse. And of course, the maiden sacrifice to dragon legends stem from angry Greek Gods sending dragons to punish some kingdom in this manner.
This is why the dragons in Judao-Christian theology brought to Rome were readily accepted by them and dragons appear in all of their relgious art. The Romans, being a maritime people, completely understood and depiected whales, sharks and fish in their art, yet always portrayed the creature swallowing Jonah as a dragon, because this is what is was called in the bible before more modern Christians rewrote this scripture and many others concerning dragons, and of course many other subjects. It is very interesting that these dragons depicted in Greco Roman art look very much like the supposed loch ness monster, other sea and lake monsters and long necked dinosaurs. It strongly suggests these peoples all knew these "dragons" as living creatures, unlike most of the "mythological" animals depicted in their art which were impossible combinations of lion or horse bodies with fish tails.
The Greco-Roman dragons are very much like a Pliosaur, but with clawed front feet, and when in water, their wings pressed tightly to their bodies. Were they actually seeing a real marine reptile, which their artistic impressions so uncannily resemble, and just made them fly at times as well? Or if God is real, or some unknown intelligence that deserves a better name, has this entity somehow "improved" existing perhistoric creatures we now call dragons to do his bidding as legends and religious texts all around the world suggest?
Or could the firm belief of dragons as real creatures in the whole ancient world, a world nearly as educated and sophisticated as our own, all be nothing but a worldwide international mass hysteria based just on some alledgedly discovered fossil bones, for which the ancients would have no way of even determining belonged to reptiles, or that these creatures had wings and flew?
To think so, sceptics would have to have more "faith" in the improbable hysteria created by a few bones that spread all over the word turning them all into a near identical creature, than the faith in a "power" above mortal man have which the believers in "religion" have.
Edited by SaRuMaN, 30 November 2005 - 04:02 PM.