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The Evolution of the Dragon

Nature volume 104, pages 350351 (04 December 1919) | Download Citation



THE dragon may be regarded as the most venerable symbol employed in ornamental art, and it has been the inspiration of much of the world's great literature in every age and clime. The dragon-myth also represents the earliest doctrine or systematic theory of astronomy and meteorology. The study of dragon-lore thus leads us back to some of the most primitive workings of the human mind, and embraces many subjects which at first sight seem to have little connection with the end in view. Prof. Elliot Smith's work on the evolution of the dragon, indeed, alludes to almost every aspect of primitive thought and myth, and the author discusses questions which vary from the origin of embalming to the worship of the cow, the elixir of life, the swastika, and the reasons for wearing clothes. His volume consists of notes of three lectures delivered in the John Rylands Library, Manchester, illustrated by beautiful reproductions of an appropriate series of drawings. The chapters are entitled respectively Incense and Libations, Dragons and Rain Gods, and The Birth of Aphrodite.

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