Presenter: Elicia Penman (Mid-candidature review)

This paper will examine the origins of two Medieval legends, the life of a saint and the story of Beowulf and his dragon, in the hero tales of Greek mythology. Good triumphing over evil and order dominating chaos are just two of the themes found in Medieval literature, and are the foundations upon which the dragon-slaying legends are built. These legends, however, were not a new construct of the Medieval Period. Instead they have their origins in the established hero tales of Greek mythology. Apollo and Python, Herakles and the Hydra, Zeus and Typhon are but three examples of gods or heroes battling monsters of serpentine form and nature that would later become the dragons that knights and saints of Medieval literature defeat. Whilst the creatures’ form changed in the development from Greek myth to Medieval legend, and the hero transformed from divine gods and heroes into mortal knights and saints, the basic structure of these tales remained unchanged.