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Here Be Dragons

Adults in the developed nations of the west claim they are not frightened on monsters but our fears emanate from the most primitive parts of the brain. Can you really be sure there are no monsters lurking in the deep dark depths of your imagination?
KEYWORDS: monsters, dragons, medieval

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Here be Dragons
by Ian R Thorpe
2007-03-24

If, as a child, you looked at the world famous Mappa Mundi, the original of which is on display in the medieval cathedral of Hereford (there was a print in most schools) or at any other ancient maps you may have been fascinated, as I was, by the phrase here be dragons which covers most of Africa. In the ocean too, the remote regions are adorned with writhing sea serpents and the legend here be monsters.

Dragons and monsters. Fascinating for an adventurous boy who could get into trouble more easily than he could get into the bath, but what about people of a more nervous disposition. I might have wished live in medieval times and be able to go hunting dragons and sea monsters with my trusty Tommy gun by my side. I was only a child remember, while loving to read stories of King Arthur, Sir Lancelot, Ivanhoe and Robin Hood I thought they were a bit dull witted for using swords or bows and arrows instead of guns. The world to a medieval person was a much bigger, more mysterious and more threatening place than it is now even to most children raised on Star Wars, Harry Potter and Doctor Who. Even so there are monsters and dragons out there that still scare us, King Kong, Godzilla, The Gorgon, Mrs. Ada Clogiron of No. 7 Slaghill Terrace Accrington and the inhabitants of Jurassic Park are slightly scary to children and very imaginative people I guess, disease, terrorism, flood and famine frighten the rational but the monsters of the darknes and the ocean abyss still have a hold on our collective subconscious. Beelzebub, Belial, Azazel, Moloch, Leviathan, Scylla, Charybdis, Grendel and others are dismissed as myth but do we really know what horrors may lurk in the depths of the wilderness, the ocean or the human mind? The one monster that kept me awake at nights years ago was the Giant Squid from Jules Vernes 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. I would lie, cover pulled over my head, imagining this fearsome creature swimming up the Shropshire Union Canal which passed our house, in order to drag me off to the abyssal depths where it dwelt living exclusively on a diet of small boys kidnapped on its nightly excursions along the canals of England's industrial hearland.

The Giant Squid is believed to be the inspiration for The Kraken of Greek Myth and Lord Tennysons poem. How disappointing it was to learn last week these supposedly fearsome creatures weigh in at between 900 and 1000 kilograms, about a ton. The nautilus, Captain Nemo's submarine craft in 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea could not have been much of a submarine if a 1000 kilo crature could tackle it.

A ton is absolutlely weedy, you can go to America and see people bigger than that. But as I said, the world is a smaller now and if not less scary then a differently scary place than it was.

FOOTNOTE FROM OUR SPONSOR JENNY GREENTEETH: myths and mondters Jenny Greenteeth

(please indulge jenny, she has lived in a swamp for 1000 years and her grammar is quaint to say the least) Ian prove him totally irrational here, scary - scary of Giant Squid in three foot deep derelict canal longways from sea is he, but not scared of dear old Jenny G. O yes, I pull him in canal a few time when him boy but slippery as eel little bugger was and swim to bank. Curses! That kind of thing bad for my reputation is.

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