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Throughout history, cultures around the world have outdone themselves with the ingenuity and variety of legends, which from the perspective of time have become inseparable from historical records. However, what among the captivating descriptions of war and tragic love stories still awakens imagination and terror until today, are the mythical monsters. Ancient Germanic culture, which existed in the Middle Ages in Northern and Western Europe, is not different and contains some of the oldest and most terrifying creatures that have passed into legend. Dragons, trolls, elves, holy animals, giants and werewolves – in the Germanic bestiary, everyone will find something scary. The ancestors of the English, Germans and Scandinavians, some of these fairy-tale beasts feared panickily and some were regarded as allies. In the legends of Germania, the fate of mystical demons intertwines with people in some disturbingly probable way, which further strengthens fear and at the same time shows the dark side of human nature.

Fafnir – the first dragon

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to be revealed

Fafnir turned into a dragon after murdering his own father and chased away his brother to take over a cursed treasure. Then he holed up on the Gnitaheid moor, where he guarded riches, not using them himself and not letting anyone to get close to it. Sigurd killed the dragon at the instigation of Fafnir’s brother – Regin. However, the dying dragon, apart from life’s wisdom, gave Sigurd a warning against both the treasure and Regin.

After the death of the dragon, Regin drank Fafnir’s blood and slaughtered his heart, which he ordered Sygurd to prepare. The warrior fulfilled his wish, but accidentally licked a burned during baking finger. Thanks to this, he started to understand birds’ speech and heard them talking about Regin’s deceit, who wanted to kill him and collect the treasure. Sygurd forestalled the dragon’s brother by killing him. He ate Fafnir’s heart himself and drank the blood of both brothers, obtaining dragon traits, then found a lair and took all the cursed treasure.

The motif of a warrior killing a dragon guarding a treasure became the main axis of knightly legends. In turn, Fafnir himself is the progenitor of the contemporary image of the dragon as a sinister, yet extremely intelligent beast, which among others inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to create the character of Smaug in the “Hobbit”, spectacularly filmed by Peter Jackson.

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