Mythology on Canvas (Part 12)

The legend of Saint George and the Dragon is said to have been brought to Europe from the Middle East by the crusaders. Whether intentionally or not, it bears some rather obvious parallels to the myth of Perseus slaying Cetus to rescue Andromeda. For this reason, I have chosen to show one last set of paintings by Edward Burne-Jones.

For those of you unfamiliar with the legend, it takes place in a region of Libya, where a dragon was plaguing the kingdom. The citizenry were sacrificing their daughters to the dragon by lottery, and the lot eventually fell on the king’s daughter (Sabra in some accounts). Saint George happens upon her while she is tied to a pole or tree, waits until the dragon appears, and eventually slays it. Here, then, in pictures is the story:

Sabra
Sabra
The lottery (with Sabra second in line)
The lottery (with Sabra second in line)
Sabra being led to the sacrifice
Sabra being led to the sacrifice
Sabra tied to the pole as the maidens depart
Sabra tied to the pole as the maidens depart
Saint George slaying the dragon after untying Sabra
Saint George slaying the dragon after untying Sabra
Saint George returning Sabra after defeating the dragon.(c) Bristol Museum and Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Saint George returning Sabra after defeating the dragon.(c) Bristol Museum and Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

I have refrained from commentary on individual paintings. Readers can parse out the elements of drama and irony for themselves. Simply looking at the pictures and captions is a bit like reading a comic book.

Next week: the beginning of a collection of paintings from our last artist.

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5 thoughts on “Mythology on Canvas (Part 12)”

    1. I gather from the fact that you mentioned a dragon that you read the review. Jimplecutes (or jimplicutes as I spelled it) were a post-civil war legend created in the Ozark Mountains of northern Arkansas (about 3 hours south of where I live). The were said to be ghostly dinosaurs that stalked unwary travelers at night. There is little else written about the legend, so it left me free to expand on the concept of what these creatures might be. They weren’t supposed to be dragons at all, so I’m not sure how carefully the reviewer read the relevant passages from my book. I hope this answers your question satisfactorily. Thanks for your interest. Take care.

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  1. Oh, I’ve heard of St. George and the dragon. I wonder if there’s a modicum of truth behind it. Dragons existed at one point. The legend also parallels the encounter between Beowulf and the dragon. Tolkien based the scene between Bilbo and the dragon on Beowulf.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, you’re right. I didn’t read the part where the princess what tied to a pole. It’s one of those days. Never mind then. It’s not at all similar to Beowulf, save for the fact that there was a dragon.

        Liked by 1 person

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