Viewing the dragon as a symbol of evil is rooted in the Bible – even in Psalms, where the power of God is described in the context of defeating dragons (“You divided the sea by your might; you broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters.” – Psalm 74:13, ESV; “You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.” – Psalm 91:13, ESV). In the Book of Daniel there is a story about the destruction of a serpent, worshiped by the Babylonians – in ancient translations, for example in the Douay-Rheims Bible it was called a dragon (Dn 14:23-27). Finally, the key role in the Apocalypse was played by the dragon: it revealed itself as an evil force, lying in wait for a woman interpreted as the Mother of God (“And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child, he might devour it.” – Rev. 12:3-4, ESV).
The rich culture of medieval Europe was a mixture of ancient (Greek-Roman and Middle Eastern) traditions and the North European beliefs of peoples which the Romans called barbarians. Dragons were present in the myths of all these cultures, so it is no wonder that these fascinating creatures appeared many times in medieval literature and art. The universal nature of dragons means that these beasts could be associated with each of the four elements: according to many legends, dragons lived in water whereas in others they hid in the ground; moreover, they breathed fire and had wings, so they could rise into the air.