This is Research on Babylonian Dragons and their legends
|Research of Dragons; Babylonian Dragons:|
The Babylonian god with which we are most concerned is Ea, who seems to stand in about the same relation to the Sumerian myth of creation as did Osiris to the Egyptian. Among the oldest pictures that have come down to us is one of a creature called Oannos–a human figure whose body, from the middle down, is that of a fish. Perhaps it is meant for Ea, who otherwise is represented as a man wearing a fish-skin, as a fish, or as a composite creature with a fish’s body and tall. Ea was a water-god, personifying and governing all the waters on the earth, above or under it, including rivers and irrigation canals; nevertheless, although regarded as primarily a personification of the beneficent, life-giving powers of water (as in producing and sustaining crops), he was also identified with the devastating forces of wind and water, as in storms. As Osiris was confusingly reincarnated in Horus, so the earlier Enlil was absorbed in Ea, and gradually Ea in his son Marduk, when he became a sun-god, the slayer of Tiamat the water-demon. Tiamat, chaos personified (with just such a troop of malignant subordinates as attended Set), came out of the murky primeval ocean on purpose to baulk in their creative plans the well-intentioned gods of the air who gave the land the blessed rains on which the people depended for life and happiness. Tiamat was feminine; and this she-dragon, a counterpart of Harbor, heads a long line of ‘demons,’ good and bad. 1
Tiamat, a god in Babylonian mythology, was sometimes depicted as a beautiful dragon queen. (In Dungeons & Dragons, Tiamat was viewed in a substantially different way, as a queen and mother of evil dragons.)
Chaos bred monsters, and then the divine Heaven and Earth, as Anshar and Kishar, ancestors of Anu, Enlil, and Ea, prepared for conflict, to maintain order. . . . The eleven opposing monsters of Chaos are created by Tiamat and headed by Kingu, to whom Tiamat gives the tablets of destiny and whom she makes her consort. The peace-loving gods seem to fear; they send a messenger to Tiamat, “May her liver be pacified, her heart softened” [apparently without effect]. . . . At any rate, we next see Bel-Marduk, at the command of his father, going joyfully into battle after preparing for the conflict by making weapons, bow, lance, club, lightning-bolt, storm-winds and a net wherewith to catch Tiamat. The gods get drunk with joy, anticipating victory and hailing Marduk as already lord of the universe. On Storm (his chariot) he rushes forth, haloed with light, from which Kingu shrinks. Him follow the seven winds. Tiamat, however, fears him not, but when Marduk challenges her, she fights, “raging and shaking with fury,” yet all in vain. For Marduk stifles her with a poisonous gas (‘evil wind’), and then transfixes her, also taking the tablets from Kingu and netting the other monsters. But Tiamat he cuts in two, making one half of her the sky. 1
The tradition of Marduk’s titanic battle with Tiamat seems to have been preserved in the famous story in the Apocrypha of Bel and the Dragon.
A list of specific dragons from myth, legend, and folklore.
Dragons are famous the world over, and tales of their deeds and prowess find their way into many myths and folk tales. This is a list of legendary named dragons.
Yamata no Orochi
Mentioned in the Kojiki, Japan's oldest book, Yamata no Orochi was a very big Japanese dragon with eight heads. In Japanese, "eight" sometimes means "many," so Yamata no Orochi may have had "many" heads. Its eyes were as red as cherries, and its belly was always covered in blood. Pine and cypress trees grew on its back, and it was so immense that it covered many hills and valleys.
The warrior Susanoo slayed the dragon by getting it drunk on sake and then cutting off all its heads. In doing so, he saved the princess Kushi'inada, who otherwise would have been sacrificed. She was the last of eight daughters, all the rest of which had already been eaten by Yamata no Orochi.
Susanoo (alternately spelled Susano'o, Susa-no-O, or Susanowo) took a sword which was found in one of the dragon's tails, called Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, which eventually was passed down from generation to generation, becoming one of the three Imperial Regalia of Japan.
Along with Yofune-Noshi, Yamata no Orochi is one of the few eastern dragons seen as an evil monster.
Yu was the rain god in Chinese mythology, a beautiful golden dragon. The legend Yu Controlled the Flood explains how he came to be.
The Yellow Emperor, supreme god of the Chinese, looked upon the earth and the wickedness of its inhabitants. He ordered the rain god to cause a great flood over the earth, to cleanse it of humanity's evil. Kun, the Yellow Emperor's grandson, pleaded with his grandfather to end the rains, but the Yellow Emperor did not listen.
Kun met an old, wise tortoise who offered a solution. He told Kun that the Yellow Emperor kept a jar of magic mud in his treasury, and that this mud would solve his problem. Kun stole the jar of magic mud and began spreading it around. Wherever the mud touched, islands of dry land sprung up from the sea.
Having witnessed this, the Yellow Emperor sent the god of fire to kill Kun. Kun turned into the form of a white horse and hid, but the fire god found him and killed him. From his dead body sprung new life. This new life was Yu, Kun's son. Yu was a beautiful dragon with golden scales, a magnificent mane, and five claws per paw.
Yu went to the Yellow Emperor, and, like his late father, begged him to end the flood. He consented, and gave Yu enough magic mud to restore the land. He also appointed Yu the rain god. Yu ended the rain and, with the help of the old tortoise, used the mud to restore the land.
Yu then used his great tail to carve out rivers in the land. The people, having seen this great deed, asked Yu to be their emperor. He consented, and changed from the form of a dragon into the form of a human. He ruled as their emperor, founding the Xia dynasty.
Zû was an ancient dragon from mythology of ancient Mesopotamia, Sumer, and Babylon. Zu stole the Tablets of Law and threatened to plunge the world into chaos.
Zû, also known as Anzû (from An, meaning "heaven," and Zû, meaning "far"), is sometimes described as a huge dragon, and other times described as a griffin or storm bird. He is the son of the bird goddess Siris. Both Zû and Siris were massive birds who could breathe fire and water.
As the myth goes, Zû was a servant of the sky god Enlil, ruler of the universe. He was also the attendent of the monstrous Tiamat. Zû stole the Tupsimati, or Tablet of Destinies, from Enlil. Whoever posessed the Tablet of Destinies would have power to rule the universe.
Zû flew high up to the top of the Sabu Mountains, and cached the tablets away like eggs in his nest. Enlil sent his son Ninurta, the sun god, to retrieve them. Ninurta killed Zû and returned the Tablet of Destinies to Enlil.
Tannin and the Prophet Daniel:
Many, many years ago, several centuries before the birth of Christ, in the sumptuous and pagan Babylon, there lived a young exile from Jerusalem named Daniel. The King of the Babylonians, Nebuchadnezzar, held the young man in high esteem because of his wisdom and he often invited him to his table. Daniel knew how to interpret dreams and his prophecies were always fulfilled, which is why Nebuchadnezzar felt obliged to ask his advice. However, the prophet, who came from the tribe of Judah, was not able to convince the powerful monarch that the stone and metal idols which the Babylonians worshipped were false.
At that time, in the city of Babylon, there lived a dragon called Tannin who was worshipped as a god.
Tannin, who had made a pact of friendship and goodwill with the Babylonians, lived in the temple of Bel, where there were priests and servants to take care of his needs and where the same Nebuchadnezzar often visited him, for he was an ancient and wise dragon.
One day, when Daniel had demonstrated to the Babylonian monarch the falsity of the god Bel, Nebuchadnezzar asked him angrily:
"And why don't you worship the dragon god? You cannot deny that the dragon is alive. He is not made of stone or metal like the other gods in this land."
"He is alive but he is not a god, for he can die and gods do not die," replied the prophet.
"He has been alive since the time when my father and his father were young, and even long before. He has lived in the temple for countless generations of men, and there is nobody who remembers when he was born. He eats and drinks and speaks with wisdom, and he is very knowledgeable. I do not imagine or believe that he will ever die. He is without a doubt a god," retorted Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel then wanted to demonstrate to the King that the dragon could die and was therefore no different from other creatures. He made cakes of pitch and sheep's fat and wool, and gave them to the poor, trusting Tannin, who, accustomed to being given food by men, did not suspect anything and ate them.
The poisoned cakes soon began to work and the dragon died in two days. Thus the king of the Babylonians was convinced that Tannin was mortal, and he lost his wise dragon god forever.
The ungrateful populace, enraged at this Herculean feat demanded Daniel’s death, and the king reluctantly cast him into a den of lions kept as royal executioners, where he stayed a full week unharmed, but likely to starve to death–as also were the lions, inhibited by magic from their prey. On the seventh day another Jew, Habbakuk, was cooking dinner for his harvest-hands on his farm somewhere in the country, when he was lifted up by an angel (as once happened to Ezekiel) and carried to the capital with a quantity of provisions to feed the unfortunate reformer. Daniel was thereupon restored to liberty and power as chief magician, and the famishing lions were fed with humbler priests.
Very ancient Babylonian drawings show Tiamat harnessed to a four-wheeled chariot in which is seated a god who, in the opinion of Dr. William Hayes Ward, we may call Marduk. She is drawn as a composite and terrifying quadruped with the head, shoulders and fore-limbs of a lion, a body covered with scaly feathers, two wings, the hind legs like those of an eagle, and a protruding, deeply forked tongue like that of a snake. In another glyph a goddess sits on a similar beast, holding the ‘lightning trident.’ A third cylinder-design exhibits such a beast standing on its hind legs and with open mouth over a kneeling man. A curious feature of all these representations is that a second, smaller dragon always appears, running along on all fours like a dog, the meaning of which remains unexplained. Another figure, reproduced by Maspero, and said to represent Nergal, an underworld agent of war and pestilence, shows him accompanied by many ‘devils’ combining horrid animal and human features, and also Nergal’s consort Ereskigal, a serpent-wielding queen, the ugliest picture of a woman imaginable. Nergal has here the body, fore-limbs and tail of a big, square-headed dog, four wings, the under and foremost two being small and roundish, while the posterior pair reach back beyond the creature’s rump like the shards of a beetle; the body is scaly, and the hind legs have the shape of an eagle’s.