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January 18, 2012 / dragonscorner

Python

Source: classical Greek mythology

The origins of the myth of Python are unclear, but by the Classical Greek era, he had become established as the guardian of the oracle at Delphi. In the most popular version of the myth, Python pursues Leto, a human woman favored by Zeus, at the urging of Zeus’s jealous wife Hera. However, Leto eventually gives birth to the twin gods Apollo and Artemis, and Apollo goes on to kill Python and claim Delphi as his own domain.

In classical depictions, Python is shown as a serpent, but by early modern times he is often depicted as a standard Western dragon. The death of Python at Apollo’s hands is sometimes interpreted as the triumph of Hellenic civilization over a preceding culture, and it may also be one of the direct ancestors to the dragon-slayer tales of medieval Europe.

Image: Python ab Apolline interficitur, Antonio Tempesta (1555-1630), from the AMICA Library

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