Tag Archives: medieval

Mythological Beasts And Spirits: Wyvern

From its place of hibernation, from its lair beneath the lake, Rupturing the liquid membrane, to the surface burst the Drake. From: The Staff in the Tree by Robert Lambert Jones III
From its place of hibernation, from its lair beneath the lake,
Rupturing the liquid membrane, to the surface burst the Drake.
From: The Staff in the Tree by Robert Lambert Jones III

The Wyvern was a winged, bipedal dragon. Technically, it differs from the Drake, which was a smaller version of a winged, four-legged dragon, but various literary works have used the term, Drake, to represent dragons in general. I took poetic license and used both terms interchangeably because it afforded me more flexibility in forming rhymes. For this, I hope I will be forgiven by those who are purists.

St. George and the Dragon by Paolo Ucello. Note that the dragon in this particular painting is a Wyvern.
St. George and the Dragon by Paolo Ucello.
Note that the dragon in this particular painting is a Wyvern.

The Wyvern appears in Celtic works, as shown below.

Wyvern depicted in a 14th Century Welsh manuscript.
Wyvern depicted in a 14th Century Welsh manuscript.

This creature is believed to have been used in medieval heraldry as well.

Possible symbol of the medieval kingdom of Wessex.
Possible symbol of the medieval kingdom of Wessex.

I tried to avoid modern fantasy art since the imagery is so familiar to enthusiasts, but I couldn’t ignore this diagram of a Wyvern skeleton. It harks back to my grade school (and current) fascination with dinosaurs, and it reminds my of illustrations from some of the books I owned in childhood.

Wyvern skeleton by BerserkMecha on Deviant Art.
Wyvern skeleton by BerserkMecha on Deviant Art.

Allow me to indulge myself by ending today’s post with another drawing of my own.

Bowstring sang, and arrow quivered... From: The Staff in the Tree by Robert Lambert Jones III
Bowstring sang, and arrow quivered…
From: The Staff in the Tree by Robert Lambert Jones III

Mythology In Space: Part 5

This week, I turn to what I consider a more complete synthesis of mythology and science fiction: the space trilogy by C. S. Lewis. I believe that some of the modern day criticisms of this series (which are relatively few and minor) have arisen from unfamiliarity with the literary works which Lewis apparently used as sources for some of his ideas. ¬†Familiarity with Platonic and medieval concepts of the universe goes a long way in helping with the understanding and appreciation of the three books in question. The author also works in some influences from Arthurian legend. Then, of course, there is the author’s Christian perspective, so at least a nodding acquaintance with theology is helpful.

1754a

Stylistically, the series is a good example of science fiction from the first half of the twentieth century. As such, it is outdated and inaccurate in light of the extensive data produced by various NASA missions, but this is alright. I mean, it’s science fiction, right? More accurately, these are fantasies disguised as science fiction. They were written at a time when historical limitations in knowledge and technology left more room in the solar system for the exercise of the imagination.

From the September 8, 1947 cover of TIME magazine.
From the September 8, 1947 cover of TIME magazine.

And the author’s imagination was prolific as well as being informed by his scholarship and understanding of classical works of literature. He was the product of a school of thought so aptly described by Dorothy Sayers in her essay entitled The Lost Tools of Learning. This shows in the quality of his thoughts and the effectiveness of his written expression. Overall, I found this trilogy a refreshing and unique blend of Greek philosophy, Christian theology, Arthurian legend, and science fiction.

The three books of the trilogy are (in order) Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. In the next few weeks, I will briefly examine each of these stories.