Dragons

A race of giant, toothed serpentine monsters.

Colchian Dragon

It was a giant, watchful serpent, which guarded the Golden Fleece in the sacred grove of Ares in Colchis. When Jason and the Argonauts came to fetch the fleece, the beast was either slain by the hero or put to sleep by the witch Medea. In one version of the story, preserved only in vase painting, Jason was first devoured and disgorged by the dragon.

The monster’s teeth were harvested by King Aeetes for their magical properties. He commanded Jason sow them in a sacred field of Ares with a plough drawn by fire-breathing bulls. When they were seeded a tribe of warlike men (Spartoi) sprang up full-grown from the earth. The teeth of the closely related Ismenian Dragon of Thebes, sown by Cadmus, produced a similar crop of men.

Parents: Gaia and Typhon
Offspring: Spartoi
Killed by: Jason and Medea

Colchian Dragon disgorging Jason. Athenian red-figure kylix, c. 5th BC, Gregorian Etruscan Museum, Vatican Museums.

Hesperian Dragon

It was a hundred-headed serpent named Ladon tasked with guarding the golden apples of the Hesperides and tormenting the heavens-bearing Titan Atlas. The creature was slain by Heracles, when he was sent to recover the golden apples as one of his Twelve Labours. 

Parents: Phorcys and Ceto
Killed by: Heracles

Hercules and Ladon, Roman relief plate, 3rd-4th c. AD.

Lydian Dragon

It was a giant serpent of the River Hermus in Lydia, Anatolia. It was slain by the hero Damasen but its mate used a magical herb to restore it to life.

Killed by: Damasen

Ismenian Dragon

It was a giant serpent which guarded the sacred spring of Ares near Thebes. When the hero Cadmus arrived seeking to found the city, he slew the monster with a heavy stone. The goddess Athena then instructed him to sow the dragon’s teeth, producing a crop of fully-grown, armed warriors called Spartoi, five of which became the ancestral lords of Thebes. Ares later avenged his draconic son by transforming Cadmus and his wife into serpents.

Parents: Ares
Offspring: Spartoi
Killed by: Cadmus

Cadmus and the Ismenian Dragon. Paestan red-figure krater, c. 4th BC, Louvre.

Thespian Dragon

It was a monstrous serpent which ravaged the land of Thespiae in Boeotia (Central Greece). It was destroyed through the sacrifice of the hero Menestratus who leapt between the jaws of the beast wearing a spiked breastplate.

Killed by: Menestratus

Medean Dragons

They were a pair of serpents which drew the flying chariot of the witch Medea. She summoned them to carry her away from Corinth following the murder of King Creon, his daughter Glauce and her children by Jason.

Dragon-chariot of Medea | Lucanian red-figure krater C4th B.C. | Cleveland Museum of Art
Dragon-chariot of Medea. Lucanian red-figure krater, c. 4th BC, Cleveland Museum of Art.

Trojan Dragons

They were two huge sea-serpents summoned from the deep by the goddess Athena to slay the Trojan seer Laocoon, when he tried to warn the Trojans of the ruse of the Wooden Horse.

Parents: Typhon

Laocoon and His Sons.jpg
Laocoön and His Sons in the Vatican.

Python

It was a monstrous dragon-serpent set by Gaia to guard the sacred oracle of Delphi. When the god Apollo laid claim to the shrine, he slew Python with a volley of a hundred arrows. The oracle and festival of Delphi were afterwards named Pytho and Pythian. Some say Apollo slew the monster to avenge his mother Leto who had been relentlessly pursued by the dragon during her long pregnancy.

Parents: Gaia
Killed by: Apollo

Apollo killing Python. A 1581 engraving by Virgil Solis for Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book I.