3.1 The Constellation
3.2.1 Greek Mythology
3.2.2 Babylonian Interpretations
3.2.3 Other Interpretations
3.1) The Constellation Drago (Dra)
For an observer on the Northern Hemisphere, the constellation Dragon is one of the mightiest and impresses monsters on the sky.
Like a snake he winds his body (tail of the Dragon) through the Little and the Great Bear in direction to the Pole Star, than he bends before the Kepheus in direction to Wega and the constellation Hercules (head of the Dragon).
In the Greek antiquity, the constellation Little Bear has been part of the Dragon yet.
It shows the wings of the Dragon.
Thales from Milet separated about 500 b.C. the Little Bear to an independent constellation, so that the Dragon get wingless.
The constellation Dragon is very extensive and the eight-biggest one on the sky.
It consists of middle-lighted until to weak-lighted stars.
For 42° to 90° northern latitude, the Dragon is a circumpolar constellation.
Completely visible it is from 4° southern to 90° northern latitude.
It stays invisible for the observer in the area from 42° to 90° southern latitude.
Its highest position over the horizon (culmination) the constellation reaches at May the 24 at Midnight.
3.2.1) Greek Mythology
According to the Greek mythology, this constellation contains the dragon Ladon, who guarded the golden apples of the Herisperides.
These apples were something very specially. Everybody who ate from them, achieved immortality and eternal youth!
The valuable apple-tree stands very far in the west, on the brink of the earth, there, where the sun went down.
The Herisperides (that means the ''evening people'', so there, where the sun goes down), the daughters of the giant Atlas (porter of the heaven vault), were nymphs. They guarded with a terrible hundred-headed dragon this wondrous apple-tree.
The Greek hero Hercules (Herakles) must performed twelve dangerous and costly tasks in the instructions of the king Eurystheus, which were quite impossible to do.
One of it was to stole the golden apples of the Herisperides.
The apple-tree, which produced these exquisite fruits, was a marriage present of the God of the Earth Gaia to Juno (Hera), the wife of Jupiter (Zeus).
Hercules was the son of Zeus, but because of his numerous erotically adventures not from Juno, but from Alkmene, the beautiful daughter of the king from Mycenae.
Juno hated Hercules with all one's heart.
Therefore, she gave Hercules the dangerous work, which he shouldn't survive.
Hercules must pass some adventures on his way to the apple-tree.
Prometheus gave him a tip to get the apples:
He should asked Atlas to pick the apples. Atlas would agree, because he is tired to carry the full weight of the heaven vault. Atlas consent to take the apples, if Hercules would kill the dragon Ladon first.
Hercules arrived to kill the dragon with his bow and overt the way for Atlas. Than he took over the weight of the heaven vault until Atlas came back with the apples.
Now, Atlas wanted-to keep the feeling of freedom a bit longer-to bring the apples to Eurystheus himself.
Cunning, Hercules proposed to Atlas to take-over the heaven vault that he could pad his shoulders with some sheepskins. Atlas consent and Hercules disappeared with the apples.
According to another version, Hercules take the apples himself and therefore, he must kill the dragon Ladon.
Juno mourned for the dragon and moved him on the sky.
There, the Dragon apparent grabs still at Hercules, who is also immortalized on the sky in the neighbouring constellation Hercules.
3.2.2) Babylonian Interpretation
The Light god Marduk fighted against the Dragon god Tiamat. As Tiamat was defeated , Marduk cut up her body and made the earth of it, but with the skin, which scales sparkled as jewels, he made the sky and the stars. As guardian of these heaven values, the Light god put in a big, watchful dragon.
3.2.3) Other Interpretations
Nikol Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Co.KG, Hamburg
3. erweiterte Auflage, Sonderausgabe 2000
Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, 1998
Gerstenberg-Verlag, Hildesheim, 2. Auflage 2000
Ernst Klett Verlag GmbH, Stuttgart 1999,
1. Auflage 1999
We thank the publishers
Klett-Direkt for the friendly leaving of a copy of "Sternbilder und ihre Mythen"
as well as
Gerstenberg-Verlag for the aid of our project with a copy of "50 Klassiker MYTHEN"
Both books are very informative, describe the subject very detailed and offer lots of other background information.
They shows a treasure trove and an enrichment to our project.