The Doctor And The Dragon? - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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The Doctor And The Dragon?

Christopher Morley offers a series nine theory that is the stuff of myth and legend...

With Mark Gatiss penning an episode for the forthcoming Series Nine of Doctor Who, is it possible that he may revisit territory similar to that mined by his Series Eight effort Robot Of Sherwood? For it cannot have escaped your notice that the most recent trailer features a great big fire-breathing dragon rather prominently somewhere in the middle!

And if we were to apply similar myth/legend- based thinking to that, similar to what Gatiss did to the tale of Nottingham's most famous outlaw, we might reach the conclusion that what we're about to see is his retelling of the famous & on the surface very English narrative of St George & the dragon.

Never mind that it could create quite a paradox should the role of such a national hero be played by a Scotsman, no question of persuading him to "sound all English" - entertainment value in itself, surely? A look at the facts of the original story may add a great deal to our understanding of the source material & just how it could be adapted/tweaked for Saturday teatime viewing.

In itself it dates back from the Crusades, of which the Doctor was a part as a younger man. Spreading from Turkey, where he was said to have been born, the facts- if there can be said to be any- are that he had strong Christian values which cost him his life when he became a Roman soldier & protested against the Empire's treatment of his fellow believers.

Of course the younger incarnation of the Time Lord saw Emperor Nero's reign begin to unravel at first hand. But Diocletian was the man on the imperial throne around the time that George served in the military, towards the end of the Empire itself. It was the religion he followed so devoutly which would in part lead to its fall, & might explain why he's been assimilated into the patriotism inherent in the national holiday which shares his name.

Even beyond that, there's record of a similar tale taking root in Libya, with George now a knight saving a princess from a dragon. As says of this early interpretation of the legend-
"One time he came to the city of Silene in the province of Libya. Near this city was a pond, wherein there was a dragon which was poisoning all the country. Whenever he approached the city he poisoned the people with his breath, and therefore the people of the city gave to him every day two sheep to eat, so that he would do no harm to the people. When they ran out of sheep, he was given a man and a sheep.

Then an ordinance was made that the children and young people of the town should be chosen by lottery to feed the dragon. Whoever the lot fell upon, wealthy or poor, he or she was delivered to the dragon.

One time the lot fell upon the king's daughter, and the sorrowful king said to his people, "For the love of the gods take gold and silver and all that I have, but let me have my daughter."

They said, "Sir, you have made the law, and our children are now dead, but you would do the contrary. Your daughter shall be given, or else we shall burn you and your house."

Seeing that he could do no more, the king began to weep, and said to his daughter, "Now I shall never see you married."

Then he returned to the people and asked for eight days' respite, which they granted to him. When the eight days were passed they came to him and said, "You see that the city is perishing."

Then the king had his daughter dressed like a bride, embraced and kissed her, gave her his blessing, then led her to the place where the dragon was.

When she was there Saint George passed by, and seeing the lady, he asked her what she was doing there.

She said, "Go your way, fair young man, lest you perish as well."

Then he said, "Tell me why you are weeping."

When she saw that he insisted on knowing, she told him how she had been delivered to the dragon.

Then Saint George said, "Fair daughter, doubt not, for I shall help you in the name of Jesus Christ."

She said, "For God's sake, good knight, go your way, for you cannot save me."

While they were thus talking together the dragon appeared and came running toward them. Saint George, who was on his horse, drew his sword, made the sign of the cross, then rode swiftly toward the dragon.

He struck him with his spear, injuring him severely.

Then he said to the maid, "Tie your belt around the dragon's neck, and be not afraid."

When she had done so the dragon followed her meekly. She led him into the city, and the people fled in fear.

Saint George said to them, "Doubt not. Believe in God and Jesus Christ, and be baptized, and I shall slay the dragon."

Then the king and all his people were baptised, whereupon Saint George killed the dragon and cut off his head. It took four ox-carts to remove his body from the city."

Again, later reference is made to his abandonment of Roman military service in order to devote himself to his faith. Under which he takes on an air of both mystery & legend, much like the man from Gallifrey who to our knowledge has never set foot in Galilee.

Which creates a Land of Fiction- ish debate. Is the good Saint a man or a myth? The very question Gatiss set out to ask of Robin Hood.

Although you might argue he didn't think it really mattered, going by one of the final exchanges between he & his former opponent, who'd been armed only with a spoon.
DOCTOR:Try me.
CLARA:You'll say he's made up, that there is no such thing.
CLARA:It's.. it's Robin Hood.
DOCTOR: Robin Hood.
CLARA: Yeah. I love that story. I've always loved it, ever since I was little.
DOCTOR: Robin Hood, the heroic outlaw, who robs from the rich and gives to the poor.
CLARA: Yeah.
DOCTOR: He's made up. There's no such thing.
CLARA: Ah, you see?
DOCTOR:Old-fashioned heroes only exist in old-fashioned story books, Clara.
And the dragon just might be part of one of the oldest stories around, older even than the man in tights. The Doctor has of course more than proved his right to the heroic mantle.
"You stop bad things happening every minute of every day. That sounds pretty heroic to me."
Bad news for the dragon, mind!

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