Diction in the description of dragons in Icelandic texts from c. 871 1600

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Stewart, Ryan
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This thesis investigates the physical appearance of dragons as they appear in medieval Icelandic texts. I collected examples of descriptive diction from Icelandic texts to construct a pool of possible dragon descriptors. This pool, along with contemporaneous art, allowed me to construct a timeline of features that helped me evaluate common descriptions and to determine which terms correlated with others. The variety of terms collected present the Icelandic dragon as a chimeric entity, a being comprised from the anatomy of various creatures, including worms and serpents, fish and whales, as well as birds. When these features are consolidated, the Icelandic dragon as a whole functions as a symbol of domination that arises from a powerful and synergistic array of donor animals. Overall, this thesis shows that some previous translations and interpretations of the features of Icelandic dragons were misleading or incomplete. Correcting these translations and interpretations will not only help us to see the Icelandic dragon more clearly but will also help correct our understanding of their place in the global taxonomy of dragons.
Iceland, Dragon