2 thoughts on “Saint George Slays a Dragon”

  1. This archetypal scene is an important element of the national iconographies of such disparate nations as England, Ethiopia, Russia and Georgia. St. George was (in tradition anyway) a Roman officer martyred for his faith — that’s why he is the symbol of Christian chivalry. But in his role as dragon-killer he was the Christian successor to the pre-Christian story of the hero who saves the girl from the monster, known in many cultures and periods from Perseus’ rescue of Andromeda to the rescue of Fay Wray from King Kong. On a deeper level the triumph of man over dragon (or sometimes serpent or sea monster) stands for the conquest of our lower by our higher selves, or in psycholanalytic terms the superego over the id. In a deeper sense yet it stands for the evolutionary triumph of the warm-blooded creatures over the cold-blooded ones, the mammals over the reptiles. It is related to the equally deep, ancient and widespread image of the eagle devouring the snake, seen for example in the arms of Mexico, and in those of the Guelf party in the middle ages in their struggle with the Ghibellines.

  2. during the russo-japanese war, icons of st. george were carried with russian regiments and carried special significance due to established association of easterners with dragons and to preexisting japanese and chinese nationalist association of the amur river with dragons (its chinese name is “black dragon river”.)

    although china was ostensibly a neutral party in the war, the war was fought primarily on chinese soil. seeing russian soldiers march beneath a mounted knight triumphant over a dragon was probably unsettling to chinese who had only four years earlier seen cossack lancers push the entire ethnic chinese population of the border city of blagoveshchensk into the amur where they drowned in the thousands.

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