Draco is a circumpolar constellation seen all night in the
Northern latitudes. Draco winds around the Little Dipper and
its stars are not very bright. It was brighter a long time
ago and was even given wings that wound around the Big
Dipper (Ursa Major) in ancient Mesopotamia texts. It was the
Greek philosopher Thales that took off the wings in 600 BC.
There are many myths surrounding the constellation Draco,
most with Draco being a fierce dragon that was defeated and
then thrown up into the sky to reside there forever.
The Romans called Draco Ladon, and believed that he guarded
the golden apples of a tree in a garden tended by Hesperides
the daughter of Atlas. In Roman mythology Hercules was sent
after the golden apples by Eurystheus and with the help of
Atlas retrieved them after killing Ladon with an arrow. It
was Hera that put Ladon in the heavens because she was
grieved that he was killed.
The Greeks tell of Draco being a terrible dragon that
guarded a sacred spring and killed the soldiers of the first
king of Thebes, Cadmus, when the soldiers were sent to get
some water from the spring. The king then killed the dragon.
The goddess Athena then appeared to the king and told him to
plant the dragon's teeth. The planted teeth sprang up into
men who became an army of soldiers and helped Cadmus found
The Babylonian legend tells of a Tiamutus that turned
herself into a dragon that then was hewn into two parts. One
part became the earth while the other became the heavens.
The Chinese tales told of the dragon that ate the sun or the
moon in an eclipse. So during an eclipse the Chinese would
make as much noise as possible to scare away the dragon that
was eating the sun or the moon.
The Norse believed that a dragon gnaws at Ygdrasil, the tree
that covers the world.
Draco has been represented in many legends and tales all
throughout the world. All are associated with the
constellation that wraps around Ursa Minor and still today
graces the heavens and can be seen during certain times of
the year, always in Northern climes.