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Witness of John of Damascus

The Witness of John of Damascus


John of Damascus, an eastern monk who wrote in the 8th century, gives a sober account of dragons, insisting that they are mere reptiles and did not have magical powers. He quotes of the Roman historian Dio who chronicled the Roman Empire in the second century. It seems Regulus, a Roman consul, fought against Carthage, when a dragon suddenly crept up and settled behind the wall of the Roman army. The Romans killed it, skinned it and sent the hide to the Roman Senate. Dio claimed the hide was measured by order of the senate and found to be one hundred and twenty feet long. It seems unlikely that either Dio or the pious St. John would support an outright fabrication involving a Roman consul and the Senator.


According to this it seems quite clear that the Roman historian Dio, quoted by John of Damascus, confirms Pliny's account of what must be of the same incident.