Presenter: Elicia Penman (Thesis review seminar)

This seminar considers how monstrous creatures from Greek mythology lent their physical features to create a new creature: the dragon. In particular it focusses on four major features of the dragon: the serpentine body, the supernatural size, the wings and the fiery breath. Drakōn (‘dragon’), as a word and a concept, comes from ancient Greek culture. The serpentine body, most clearly, is based on Greek mythology’s serpents, such as Python and Ladon. Yet this body was changed to one resembling a lizard, because of the influence of new composite drakontes (‘dragons’) and stories about the Nile’s crocodiles. The large size of the dragon finds its origins in almost every monstrous creature that came before it. The dragon’s wings probably came from both Herodotus’s accounts of Arabia’s winged serpents and tragedy’s staging of the myth of Medea’s flight in a chariot that was drawn by such creatures. The fourth feature, the fiery breath, comes, surely, from the venom of some snake-species. These major features were thus drawn from imaginative art and literature as well as stories of exotic creatures beyond the Greek world.

About Classics and Ancient History Seminars

Event details

  • The seminars take place at 4pm, in the Michie Building (09), Room 536
  • Seminars are also on Zoom. Send an email to Duncan Keenan-Jones ( for the link.
  • Upcoming seminars can be found here.
  • Please be aware that we are still operating under Covid-19 regulations during public events. Masks are no longer required at UQ locations - however, UQ strongly encourages mask wearing when physical distancing is not possible. UQ strongly encourages all campus attendees to be up to date with vaccinations. And finally, those who are feeling unwell, have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the previous 7 days or have been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 7 days, are asked not to attend this seminar.
  • For those attending in person, if you would like to join us for drinks and/or dinner afterwards at UQ’s St. Lucy's from 5:15 pm, please RSVP by email to Duncan Keenan-Jones ( by 9am on the day of the seminar.
  • Please also contact Duncan Keenan-Jones should you have questions about the event.

The Friends of Antiquity, an alumni organisation of the University, runs its own series of public lectures, which take place on Sunday afternoons. The Friends’ program for can be found at