St George and the Dragon

Today is “St George’s Day” in the UK. It’s not a national holiday, and is only marked in-so-much that most calendars have it marked in small-print. Quite how the entire country has entwined the story into the national identity and flag is something of a mystery.

While at infant school I remember doing a project on it – which probably had more to do with it being an “easy win” for the teachers. Kids love dragons, and the clue is in the title of the myth – “St George and the Dragon”.

Needless to say, there are thousands of public houses up and down the British isles called “The George and Dragon”.

Isn’t it amazing how an entirely mythical event – no more true than King Arthur, Camelot, Merlin, or any of that codswallop – is still marked, nearly two thousand years after it’s supposed to have happened?

Wikipedia tells us the following about the highly doubtful events that happened at some point prior to the year 303:

The legend of Saint George and the Dragon tells of Saint George (died 303) taming and slaying a dragon that demanded human sacrifices.The story goes that the dragon originally exhorted tribute from the villagers. When they ran out of livestock and trinkets for the dragon, they started giving up a human tribute once a year. This was acceptable to the villagers until a well-loved princess was chosen as the next offering. The saint thereupon rescues the princess chosen as the next offering. The narrative was first set in Cappadocia in the earliest sources of the 11th and 12th centuries, but transferred to Libya in the 13th-century “Golden Legend”.

Utter, utter, utter bollocks.

So we have a dragon that not only eats people, but also exhorts things from people. No doubt the dragon does this by sitting down and having a frank discussion with them? Or maybe it writes increasingly irate letters before turning up, knife and fork in hand ?

I imagine my school-project drawing of St George killing the dragon probably involved quite a lot of red crayon, and screaming from a lady tied to a tree. Knowing my early artistic endeavours, there were probably X-Wing fighters in the sky overhead too.