research on Persian dragons on our Earth and their legends
|Research of Dragons; Persian Dragons:
The Persian Azhi, or Ashi Dahaka, is described in Yasti IX as a “fiendish snake, three-jawed and triple-headed, six-eyed, of thousand powers and of mighty strength, a lie-demon of the Daevas, evil for our settlements, and wicked, whom the evil spirit Angra Mainyu made.” Darmesteter asserts that the original seat of the Azhi myth was on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea. He says that Azhi was the ‘snake’ of the storm-cloud, and is the counterpart of the Vedic Ahi or Vritra. “He appears still in that character in Yasti XIX seq., where he is described struggling against Atar (Fire) in the sea Vourukasha. His contest with Yima Khshaeta bore at first the same mythological character, the ‘shining Yima’ being originally, like the Vedic Yima, a solar hero: when Yima was turned into an earthly king Azhi underwent the same fate.” He became then the symbol of the enemies of Iran, first the hated Chaldeans and later the Arabs who persecuted the Zoroastrians. A well-known poem of Firdausi relates the legend of how Ahriman in disguise kisses the shoulders of Zohak, a knight who is Azhi in human form, from which kiss sprang venomous serpents. These are replaced as fast as destroyed, and must be fed on the brains of men. In the end Zohak is seized and chained to a rock, where he perishes beneath the rays of the sun. “Fire is everywhere the deadly foe of these ‘fiendish’ serpents, which are water-spirits; they are ever powerless against the sun, as was Azhi, lacking wit, against Ormuzd.”
In his famous epic the Shah Nameh, translated by Atkinson, Firdausi describes the wondrous adventures of the Persian hero Rustem, who like Hercules had to perform seven labours. At the third stage of this task he was alone in a wilderness with his magical horse Rakush, and lay down to sleep at night, after turning the horse loose to graze. Presently a great dragon came out of the forest. “It was eighty yards in length, and so fierce that neither elephant nor demon nor lion ever ventured to pass by its lair.” As it came forth it saw and attacked the horse, whose resistance awakened Rustem; but when Rustem looked around nothing was visible–the dragon had vanished and the horse got a scolding. Rustem went to sleep again. A second time the vision frightened Rakush, then vanished. The third time it appeared the faithful horse “almost tore up the earth with its heels to rouse his sleeping master.” Rustem again sprang angrily to his feet, but at that moment sufficient light was providentially given to enable him to see the prodigious cause of the horse’s alarm.
Then swift he drew his sword and closed in strife
With that huge monster.–Dreadful was the shock
And perilous to Rustem, but when Rakush
Perceived the contest doubtful, furiously
With his keen teeth he bit and tore among
The dragon’s scaly hide; whilst, quick as thought,
The champion severed off the grisly head,
And deluged all the plain with horrid blood.
Another hero of popular legend woven into his history by Firdausi was Isfendiar (son of King Gushtask, himself a dragon-killer), who also had to perform seven labours, the second of which was to fight an enormous and venomous dragon such as this:
Fire sparkles round him; his stupendous bulk
Looks like a mountain. When incensed his roar
Makes the surrounding country shake with fear,
White poison foam drips from his hideous jaws,
Which, yawning wide, display a dismal gulf,
The grave of many a hapless being, lost
Wandering amidst that trackless wilderness.
Isfendiar’s companion, Kurugsar, so magnified the power and ferocity of the beast, which he knew of old, that Isfendiar thought it well to be cautious, and therefore had constructed a closed car on wheels, on the outside of which he fastened a large number of pointed instruments. To the amazement of his admirers he then shut himself within this armoured chariot, and proceeded towards the dragon’s haunt. Listen to Firdausi:
. . . Darkness now is spread around,
No pathway can be traced;
The fiery horses plunge and bound
Amid the dismal waste.
And now the dragon stretches far
His cavern-throat, and soon
Licks the horses and the car,
And tries to gulp them down.
But sword and javelin sharp and keen,
Wound deep each sinewy jaw;
Midway remains the huge machine
And chokes the monster’s maw.
And from his place of ambush leaps,
And brandishing his blade,
The weapon in the brain he steeps,
And splits the monster’s head.
But the foul venom issuing thence,
Is so o’erpowering found,
Isfendiar, deprived of sense,
Falls staggering to the ground.
As for the dragon–
In agony he breathes, a dire
Convulsion fires his blood,
And, struggling ready to expire,
Ejects a poison flood.
And thus disgorges wain and steeds.
And swords and javelins bright;
Then, as the dreadful dragon bleeds,
Up starts the warrior knight.
Eglė the Queen of Serpents:
A Lithuanian folk tale, also known as Eglė the Queen of Grass Snakes
Once upon a time, there lived an old man and his wife. Together, they had twelve sons and three daughters. The youngest girl was named Eglė. On a warm summer evening, all three girls decided to go swimming. After bathing with her two sisters, Eglė discovered a serpent in the sleeve of her blouse.
The eldest girl grabbed Eglė's blouse, threw it down, and jumped on it, but the serpent did not leave. Turning to the youngest, Eglė, the serpent spoke to her in a man's voice, saying, "Eglė, promise to become my bride, and I will gladly come out."
In order to get him to leave her clothes, Eglė pledged herself to him, not understanding the possible consequences.
Three days later, thousands of serpents came for Eglė, but her relatives tricked them three times in a row. A goose, a sheep, and a cow were given instead of the girl, despite the warnings of a cuckoo. Finally, the enraged serpents returned and took Eglė with them to their master at the bottom of the sea.
Instead of seeing a serpent, Eglė met her bridegroom Žilvinas, a handsome man and the Serpent Prince. They married and bore four children, living happily.
One day, Eglė wished to visit her home, but her husband would not allow her. In order to be allowed the visit, Eglė would be required to fulfill three impossible tasks: to spin a never-ending tuft of silk, wear down a pair of iron shoes, and bake a pie with no utensils. Upon advice from a sorceress, Eglė was able to complete these tasks. She and her children left Žilvinas to visit her home.
After meeting with Eglė and her children, her family wished to keep her rather than let her return to the sea. They plotted to kill Žilvinas. Eglė's brothers asked her sons to reveal the secret calling of Žilvinas, but they would not. Finally, one of Eglė's daughters disclosed it:
"Žilvinas, dear Žilvinas,
If alive - may the sea foam milk
If dead - may the sea foam blood..."
The twelve brothers then called Žilvinas out from the sea, and killed him with scythes. They kept the secret of their deed from Eglė. Worried, Eglė called her husband, but only foams of blood returned from the sea.
Discovering that her beloved husband was dead, Eglė turned herself and her children into trees. Her sons were turned into strong trees: oak, ash and birch; her daughter was turned into a common aspen, and Eglė was turned