English "dragon" derives (via Middle English), Old French,, and Latin) from Greek drakon, "serpent dragon," the Greek word derives from Indo-European "derk-,"to see," and many originally have meant something like "monster with the evil eye." Not withstanding their folkloric associations, there is no etymological connection between dragons and the ghoulish figures known as draugr in Old Norse.
The emblem books popular from late medieval times through the 17th century often represented the dragon as an emblem of greed. The prevalence of dragons of European heraldry demonstrates that there is more to the dragon than greed.
Though the Latin is draco, draconis, it has been supposed by some scholars that the dragon comes from the Old Norse draugr, which literally meant a spirit who guards the burial mound of a king. How this image of a vengeful guardian spirit is related to a fire-breathing serpent is unclear. Many others assume the word dragon comes from the ancient Greek verb derkethai, meaning "to see," referring to the dragon's legendary keen eyesight. In any case, the image of a dragon as a serpent-like creature was already standard at least by the 8th century when Beowulf was written.
Although today we associate dragons almost universally with fire, in medieval legend the creatures were often associated with water, guarding springs or living near or under water. The poem Beowulf describes a draca (=dragon) also as wyrm (=worm or serpent) and its movements by the Anglo-Saxon verb bugan= "to bend," and says that it has a venemous bite; all of these indicate a snake-like form and movement rather than a lizard-like or dinosaur-like body as in later belief.
Dragons in Celtic Mythology: In Britain, the dragon is now more commonly associated with Wales due to the national flag have a red dragon (Y Draig Goch) as its emblem and their national rugby union and rugby league teams are known as the dragons. This may originate in Arthurian Legend where Myrddin, employed by Gwrtheyrn, had a vision of the red dragon (representing the Britons) and the white dragon (representing the invading Saxons) fighting beneath Dinas Emrys. This particular legend also features in the Mabinogion in the story of Lludd and Llefelys. (Mabinogien-is the title given to a collection or prose stories collated from medieval Welsh manuscripts. The tales draw on pre-Christian Celtic mythology, international motifs, and early medieval historical traditions.
According to Fox-Davies, the red dragon of Wales originated with the standard of the 7th century king Cadwaledr, and was used as a supporter by the Tudor dynasty (who were of Welsh origin). Queen Elizabeth, however, preferring gold, changed the royal mantle and the dragon supporter from red to gold, and some Welsh scholars, still hold that the dragon of Wales is properly ruddy with gold rather than gules (gules=in heraldry gules is the tincture with the color red). There may be some doubt of the Welsh origin of the dragon supporter of the Royal Arms (the official coat of arms of the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II), but it certainly was used by King Henry II (1 October 1207-16 November 1272-reigned for 56 years from 1216 to his death).
It has also been speculated that the red dragon of Wales may have even earlier origins in the Sarmatian (Persian-ancient Iranians) influenced Draco standards (a Roman cavalry military standard borne by a draconarius. Thought to have originated with the Dacians, it took the form of a gaping wolf's head and mouth formed from cast metal, to the end of which was attached a 'body' of cloth or silk fabric in the form of a woodsock), who would have been the primary defense against the Saxons.
Dragons in Slavic Mythology: Dragons of Slavic mythology hold mixed temperment towards humans. For example, dragons in Bulgarian mythology are either male or female with each gender having a different view of mankind! The female dragon represents harsh weather and is the destroyer of crops, the hater of mankind, and is locked in a never-ending battle with her brother. The male dragon protects the humans' crops from destruction and is generally loving to humanity. Fire and water play major roles in Bulgarian dragon lore, the female has water characteristics, while the male is usually a fiery creature. In Bulgarian legend, dragons are 3-headed, winged beings with snakes bodies.
In Bulgarian, Russian, Belorussian, Ukranian and Serbian lore, a dragon is generally an evil 4-legged beast with few if any redeeming qualities. Zmey (Russian for dragon) are intelligent, but not very highly so; they often place tribute on villages or small towns, demanding maidens or food or gold. Their number of heads ranges from one to seven, or sometimes even more, with three and seven headed dragons being most common. The heads also regrow if cut off, unless the neck is "treated" with fire (similar to the hydra in Greek mythology). Dragon blood is so poisonous that Earth itself will refuse to absorb it. In Bulgarian mythology these dragons are sometimes good opposing the evil Lamya, a beast that shares a likeness with the zmey.
The most famous Polish dragon is the Wawel Dragon or Smok Wawelski, the Dragon of Wawel Hill. It supposedly terrorized ancient Krakow and lived in caves on the Vistual river bank below the Wawel Castle. According to lore based on the Book of Daniel, it was killed by a boy who offered it a sheepskin filled with sulfur and tar. After devouring it, the dragon became so thirsty that it finally exploded after drinking too much water. A metal sculpture of the Wawel Dragon is a well-known tourist sight in Krakow. It is very stylized, but to the amusement of children, noisily breathes fire every few minutes. The Wawel dragon also features on many items of Krakow tourist merchandise. Other dragon-like creatures in Polish folklore include the basilisk (from the Greek basiliskos, "little king," Latin (Regulus) is a legendary reptile reputed to be King of Serpents and said to have the power to cause death with a single glance), living in cellars in Warsaw, and the Snake King from folk legends.
Thanks for all of your thoughtful and intelligent comments! Best to anyone stopping by! The first image is of a statue called the "Dragon of Llubjana" and the second image is the flag of Wales with its famous red dragon.