Trope Workshop:Draconic Divinity

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You'd be hard-pressed to find a fictional creature more awe-inspiring than the dragon. These immense reptilian beasts have fascinated mankind since the dawn of time, and have been subjected to all kinds of interpretations through various cultural lenses. Some have viewed them as unholy beasts to be hated and feared, but others have revered these creatures to the point of worship. Whether they're merely powerful animals that serve as Physical Gods, divine beings that serve a higher power, or are actual gods in the form of a dragon, Draconic Divinity is a status that they all enjoy.

The concept of Draconic Divinity seems to originate from ancient Chinese cultures, where dragons were worshipped as benevolent embodiments of nature and harmony; these beliefs would spread to other East Asian cultures and become one of the main prevailing examples of this trope. These particular godlike dragons are often characterized as wholly wise and benevolent, or stern and temperamental yet possessing a strong sense of justice. But don't be mistaken: this is not the Good Counterpart to the Draconic Demon, and examples can easily be wrathful and wicked, as well as the centerpiece of a Religion of Evil. There's definitely room for overlap.

But no matter if they're good or evil, there's no denying that these creatures are a spectacle to behold, and are worthy of both fear and respect in equal measure. Expect there to be some overlap with Eldritch Abomination for truly alien and otherworldly examples, as well as Elemental Embodiment for good measure.

Examples of Draconic Divinity include:

Anime and Manga

  • Dragon Ball gives us one of anime's most famous examples in Shenron, the Eternal Dragon summoned by gathering all seven Dragon Balls. While Dragon Ball Z would reveal that he and his creator Kami are merely powerful aliens, he's still a powerful wish-granting entity who commands the full respect of those who summon him, and he makes it clear that he's not to be trifled with.
    • Other sets of Dragon Balls have their own analogue to Shenron: the Namekian Dragon Balls, for example, summon an even more powerful dragon called Porunga, who could originally grant more wishes in one go than Shenron while boasting a far friendlier temperament than his testy cousin. The Super Dragon Balls however can summon Super Shenron, a mind-bogglingly powerful golden god of a dragon who can grant reality-warping wishes, and is so big he can swallow entire planets in one bite and dwarfs entire galaxies in size.
  • The Five Dragon Gods from Fairy Tail aren't true gods, but they're so stupidly powerful that they're worshipped anyway. It comes with the territory when you're able to casually level entire continents with your raw might alone.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid is a slice-of-life anime featuring the Aztec god Quetzelcoatl, portrayed as a buxom, flirty, fun-loving Cute Monster Girl named Lucoa whose inappropriate behavior saw her stripped of her divine status.
  • The most famous examples of this trope from Yu-Gi-Oh! are Slifer the Sky Dragon and the Winged Dragon of Ra, two of the three Egyptian God Cards. And their name isn't some lofty title, because they are ancient Egyptian Physical Gods in the form of Duel Monsters playing cards, and you won't to be able to use one without being specifically chosen to do so. Attempting to use them anyway is a good way to invoke their wrath, ditto for trying to circumvent their standards with a bootleg card.

Film

  • Whether he's a (mostly) benevolent force for good or a monstrous, terrifying menace, Godzilla is revered and feared for his raw destructive might. The Monsterverse incarnation in particular really plays this up, with him having been worshipped as a god in ancient times.
  • Haku from Spirited Away is the most powerful spirit under Yubaba's employ, and can turn into a beautiful, graceful Eastern dragon. His true identity is that of the Kohaku River's guardian spirit.

Literature

  • Paladine and Tiamat in the Dragonlance world are the supreme good and evil gods of the setting and most commonly take the form of a platinum dragon and a five-headed chromatic dragon respectively.

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

  • Chinese Mythology is considered to be the Trope Maker, boasting the earliest known instances of dragon worship in any culture. Specific dragons such as the Four Dragon Kings, Qinglong, Huanglong, and Zhulong are viewed as the living embodiment of natural forces such as nature, the seasons, and weather, while dragons in general are viewed as the masculine yin to the feminine yang of phoenixes. Dragons have also been used as symbols of nationalism and imperial might, with many an emperor adopting them as a personal symbol of their power.
  • Japanese mythology has its own divine dragon in the form of Ryujin, the dragon god of storms and the seas. Much like the oceans he holds domain over, he's a tumultuous and chaotic being who has played the role of both a benevolent protector and a dangerous villain in many ancient myths.
  • Tiamat of Ancient Mesopotamian mythology is the goddess of the primordial sea, and the mother of many creatures, including dragons. She's also frequently portrayed as a dragon herself, though there's no true "canonical" description of the form she took.
  • While described as a "feathered serpent", many portrayals of the Aztec God Quetzalcoatl depict him as a majestic serpentine dragon as opposed to merely a giant feathered snake.


Video Games

  • Divinity goes hand in hand with dragons in the Elder Scrolls universe. The Top God of the Imperial pantheon, Akatosh, is the father of dragonkind and often takes the form of a dragon himself when he interacts with the mortal plane of Mundus. All legitimate Cyrodiilic emperors are also "Dragonborn" due to descending from a holy covenant formed by Akatosh infusing the saint Alessia with his divine blood, which would ensure that the gods would protect Mundus from the Daedra as long as a Dragonborn emperor sits on the throne.
    • As far as other divine dragons go, there are the Jills, female servants of Akatosh that repair the fabric of time after a Dragon Break. There's also Alduin, the firstborn of Akatosh and a malicious black dragon whose purpose is to destroy the world so a new one can be created in the wake of its destruction. Even generic rank-and-file dragons are lesser Aedra that have more in common with angels and demigods than they do with more animalistic portrayals of dragons, and were worshipped en masse by dragon cults in the distant past.
    • Among the Daedra is Peryite, the Daedric Prince of pestilence, tasks, and the natural order. Like all Daedric Princes he's an unfathomably powerful and unholy being worshipped as a god by less than savory types. He takes the form of a spindly, lanky dragon as a mockery of Akatosh's divinity, and is among the more benevolent, or at the very least less malevolent Princes. Doesn't stop him from occasionally unleashing horrific plagues on Mundus, though.
  • Fin Fang Foom is hyped up as such in the Guardians of the Galaxy video game. He's the center of many myths and tall tales that portray him as a godlike dragon far more powerful than any creature in existence. He's an important figure in Drax the Destroyer's culture in particular, with many outcast Katathian warriors making pilgrimages to his home planet so they can die a glorious death by meeting him in battle. While the Guardians defeat and nearly kill him, he's still a powerful adversary and once their frenemy Lady Hellbender takes him as her personal mount, he proves to be just the thing they needed to turn the tide in the seemingly hopeless battle against the Magus and his Church of Universal Truth.
  • While surprisingly uncommon, The Legend of Zelda has a few holy dragons of its own.
    • Valoo from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is the protector of Dragon Roost Isle, and the native Rito visit him to get an enchanted scale that allows them to grow their wings. While he's a fairly passive dragon, he isn't afraid to take on Ganondorf himself, and would have burned him alive had it not been for his near-immortality that only the Master Sword can defy.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword shows that ancient Hyrule was protected by three guardian deities who took the form of dragons. Faron, Eldin, and Lanayru each protect a territory named after them, and prove to be key allies in Link's fight against Ghirahim.
    • While they aren't important to the plot outside of each unlocking an optional shrine, Farosh, Dinraal, and Naydra from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild are mysterious, majestic Eastern dragons that are implied to have a connection to the near-forgotten Golden Goddesses that created Hyrule. Encountering even just one of these creatures and watching them fly peacefully through the Hylian sky is a breathtaking moment that you won't soon forget, especially when their encounters are set to this calming, beautiful melody.
  • Dragon type Pokémon are revered in ways that Pokémon of other types are not, and are often trained by powerful specialists from subcultures that hold them in high regard, if not worship them outright. It's not hard to see why, given that many of them are incredibly rare, powerful, and require dedication and patience in order to bring out their full potential.

Other Media