On St George & his day

Dragons, heroes & Zoroastrians over at The Nation!

About Llewelyn Morgan

I'm a Classicist, lucky enough to work at Brasenose College, Oxford. I specialise in Roman literature, but I've got a persistent side-interest in Afghanistan, particularly the scholars and spies and scholar-spies who visited the country in the nineteenth century.

5 responses to “On St George & his day”

  1. Martin says :

    It is perhaps relevant that the earliest known origin of the St George version originates in the same broad region as where the Zoroastrian belief system came from. Have you an opinion on this?

    • Llewelyn Morgan says :

      No opinion, no. But it’s an interesting observation. Where precisely Z’ism originated is pretty hotly debated, though, I think?

      • Martin says :

        Where Z’ism originated is debated, yes, but the pre-Christian archaeology of both Armenia and Azerbaijan has elements of fire worship and lined graves for example. The question is perhaps whether proto-Z’ism migrated up into the mountainous South Caucasus or descended onto the Iranian plains, taking with it the idea of dragons and rescuing damsels. I guess it is fantastical to speculate whether dragons would be more likely found in mountains or on plains, but how prevalent is the theme away from mountainous areas? In your article you noted an association with Afghan outcrops, but elsewhere? In the Sasanian context one could imagine a folk demon controlling the southwards release of water from Caucasion foothills north of Tabriz?

  2. Llewelyn Morgan says :

    I suppose I’m assuming that the transfer of Zoroastrian myth to Christianity or Islam is a more recent development. So while I think it’s crucial that Georgia/Armenia and Afghanistan were once largely Zoroastrian, it’s the historical fact of Persian institutional promotion of the religion that’s more important than its origins. Another thing you can say about mountains is that old beliefs die harder there…

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