Serpents and dragons are a particular feature of northern European mythology that deserve some investigation in this blog.
The ancients viewed ‘serpents’ and ‘worms’ as a whole class of creatures – not just a ‘species’ as we in modern times would conceive it, but a morphological and philosophical grouping which included many types and forms. From earthworms, to snakes, to maggots and aquatic fly larvae, to eels and millipedes – ‘worms’, ‘wyrms’, or ‘serpents’ all occupied the same functional class. In a wider sense it could as a category include all stinging and venomous creatures such as scorpions and spiders.
The idea that disease was caused by ‘worms’ was a prevalent feature of ancient and medieval medicine: From the fungal infection known as ‘ringworm’ to the idea that worms in the teeth caused toothache, all of these were common themes in ancient Atlantic medical beliefs. During the 17th and 18th centuries, for instance…
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