You Are What You Eat

In that case, I’m either a fish stick or a jar of peanut butter. Jokes aside, what dragons eat differs widely across literature (and film). In the movie How to Train Your Dragon and its sequels, just about the only thing you see the dragons eat is fish. In Dealing with Dragons, the dragons of the Mountains of Morning drink tea, eat cherries jubilee, and occasionally feed on a stray knight (though they don’t profess a love of the taste). In the Dragon Jousters series by Mercedes Lackey, the dragons seem to just eat whatever happens to be around and edible (a bit like big, scaly dogs).

Now, of course, you can definitely draw correlation between their eating habits and their relative levels of intelligence in each of these stories, and you’d be pretty spot on. The dragons presented in Lackey’s novel have zero capacity for thought and reasoning. By contrast, the dragons with the sophisticated palate in Dealing with Dragons are also highly rational beings, as smart or smarter than most people.

I think my previous post on Dragon Symbolism offers enough insight as to why there is such a disparity between dragons of different stories today, so I won’t go into that here. I do have one other thought, though, on dragon food.

What other creature, real or imagined, can range from omnivore to carnivore, each exclusively within its own narrative?

Even people, whether we eat anything or choose to be pescatarian or vegetarian, are still at a basic, fundamental level omnivores. In Dragon Jousters, though, they wouldn’t think about feeding plants to their meat-eating modes of transportation. And Patricia Wrede’s dragons of the Mountains of Morning would (under any ordinary circumstances) stick up their noses at raw meat. Frankly, I don’t blame them, but apparently raw meat is good enough for Lackey’s dragons.

So does this make dragons people, just with scales and the nasty habit of lighting people on fire? Nope. Not once you start talking magic and invulnerability…

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