Here be dragons


Here be dragons

"Here be dragons" is a phrase used to denote dangerous or unexplored territories, in imitation of the infrequent medieval practice of putting sea serpents and other mythological creatures in blank areas of maps.

In another context, software programmers sometimes use it to indicate especially difficult or obscure sections of code in a program so that others do not tamper with them.ref|googlecode

History

The earliest and only known use of this phrase is in the Latin form "HC SVNT DRACONES" (i.e. "hic sunt dracones") on the Lenox Globeref|lenox_globe (ca. 1503-07). The term appeared on the east coast of Asia. Earlier maps contain a variety of references to mythical and real creatures, but the "Lenox Globe" is the only known surviving map to bear this phrase.

Dragons on maps

Dragons do appear on other non-fictional maps.

*A dragon (associated with causing earthquakes) appears on the nineteenth-century Japanese map [http://www.library.ubc.ca/spcoll/dragon.gifJishin-no-ben] in the library of the University of British Columbia
*"Here There Be Dragons" was used in a paper submitted to the planetary science journal "Icarus" by Michael James Gaffey of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in reference to the north polar region, labeled "Terra Incognita", of the asteroid Vesta.ref|gaffey
*"The Psalter" map (ca. 1250) has dragons in the bottom "frame", below the world (but no text), balancing Jesus and angels at top; verso has a T-O map with Christ standing on dragons; i.e. related to victorious ruler trampling enemies (the calcatio motif) where the dragon stands for the devil or death.
*"The Borgia Map" (ca. 1430), "Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana", has text above a dragon-like figure in Asia (the upper left quadrant of the map) which reads "Hic etiam homines magna cornua habentes longitudine quatuor pedum, et sunt etiam serpentes tante magnitudinis, ut unum bovem comedant integrum." ("Here also are men having large horns four feet long, and there are even serpents of such magnitude that they can eat an ox whole.") probably referring to the Chinese Dragon mascot during celebrations.

Other creatures on maps

* Ptolemy's atlas in "Geographia" (originally 2nd century, taken up again in the 15th century) warns of elephants, hippos and cannibals.
* "Tabula Peutingeriana" (medieval copy of Roman map) has "in his locis elephanti nascuntur", "in his locis scorpiones nascuntur" and "hic cenocephali nascuntur" ("in these places elephants are born, in these places scorpions are born, here dog-headed beings are born").
* Cotton MS. Tiberius B.V. fol. 58v (10th century), British Library Manuscript Collection, has "hic abundant leones" ("here lions abound"), along with a picture of a lion, near the east coast of Asia (at the top of the map towards the left); this map also has a text-only serpent reference in southernmost Africa (bottom left of the map): "Zugis regio ipsa est et Affrica. est enim fertilis. sed ulterior bestiis et serpentibus plena" ("This region of Zugis is in Africa, it is truly fertile, however it is full of beasts and serpents.")
* The Ebstorf map (13th c.) has a dragon in the extreme south-eastern part of Africa, together with an asp and a basilisk.
* Giovanni Leardo's map (1442) has, in southernmost Africa, "Dixerto dexabitado p. chaldo e p. serpent".
* Martin Waldseemüller's Carta marina navigatoria (1516) has "an elephant-like creature in northernmost Norway, accompanied by a legend explaining that this 'morsus' with two long and quadrangular teeth congregated there", i.e. a walrus, which would have seemed monstrous at the time.
* Waldseemüller's Carta marina navigatoria (1522), revised by Laurentius Fries, has the morsus moved to the Davis Strait.
* Bishop Olaus Magnus's "Carta Marina" map of Scandinavia (1539) has many monsters in the northern sea, as well as a winged, bipedal, predatory land animal resembling a dragon in northern Lapland.

Cultural references

* The title of a short science fiction story by Ray Bradbury, "Here There Be Tygers" is an allusion to this expression.
*The title of an early collection of short stories by author Alfred Chester, who is known for "Jamie is My Heart's Desire" and, most famously "The Exquisite Corpse".
* On the map of the MMORPG "RuneScape", there are a few locations on the map with reference to the phrase, including "Here be penguins" and "Here be sand".
* The title of the fifth studio album (1998) by Jupiter Coyote.
* In an episode of his geek comic XKCD, Randall Munroe has a map called "Online communities" that has the line "here be anthropomorphic dragons" [http://xkcd.com/256/] .
* On the ABC television show Lost, a map found inside one bunker has the Latin notation "Hic sunt dracones" near the map location of another bunker. [http://lostpedia.com/wiki/Blast_door_map_notations]
* In the first movie of the Pirates of the Carribean Trilogy, Captain Barbossa taunts Jack Sparrow with the phrase "You're off the edge of the map now, Jack! Here there be Monsters!" and refers to the phrase.
* In the Silicon Knights game , the phrase is found on a globe in the wooden observatory of the Roivas Mansion.
* The phrase is the mantra of the blog by Mark Shuttleworth, a leading contributor to the Ubuntu Linux Distribution.
* In the Discworld books this is the unofficial description of the "Ankh Morpork Sunshine Sanctuary for Dragons".
* The title of the James Owen book "Here There Be Dragons" is a reference to the phrase shown at one end of all of the maps in the Imaginarium Geographica, an atlas of the fantasy realms.
* On the map of the Warhammer world, the Southern Wastes has the description "Here be Daemons"
*imdb.com trivia articles, sometimes contain the tag "Here be spoilers".

See also

* Hic sunt leones
* Mappa mundi

References

*cite web | author = Erin C. Blake | year = 1999 | title = Where Be "Here be Dragons"? | format = | work = MapHist Discussion Group | publisher = | url = http://www.maphist.nl/extra/herebedragons.html | accessmonthday = February 10 | accessyear = 2006
*cite web | author = Michael Livingston | year = 2002 | title = Modern Medieval Map Myths: The Flat World, Ancient Sea-Kings, and Dragons | format = | work = Strange Horizons | publisher = | url = http://www.strangehorizons.com/2002/20020610/medieval_maps.shtml | accessmonthday = February 10 | accessyear = 2006
* cite web | author = | year = 1998 | title = Lenox Globe | format = | work = Cartographic Images | publisher = | url = http://www.henry-davis.com/MAPS/Ren/Ren1/314mono.html | accessmonthday = February 10 | accessyear = 2006
* Michael J. Gaffey (1997). "Surface Lithologic Heterogeneity of Asteroid 4 Vesta", "Icarus" 127, 130-157. doi|10.1006/icar.1997.5680
* [http://www.google.com/codesearch?hl=en&lr=&q=%22Here+be+dragons%22&btnG=Search Google Code Search for "Here be dragons"]

External links

* [http://www.antiquemaps.co.uk/book/chapter10.asp Myths & Legends On Old Maps (Chapter 10)]
* [http://www.straightdope.com/columns/060818.html Cecil Adams on the Subject (see bottom of page)]
* [http://www.maphist.nl/extra/herebedragons.html An overview of dragons on antique maps]
* [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/13/AR2007031301854.html "Here be Dragons" by David Montgomery, Washington Post, 3/14/07]
* [http://herebedragonsmovie.com/ "Here Be Dragons: An Introduction to Critical Thinking" by Brian Dunning from Skeptoid]
* [http://sobrenatural.net/blog/2008/08/25/aqui-hay-dragones/ "Here Be Dragons" by Brian Dunning - Spanish Subtitled Version (Versión Subtitulada al Español de "Aquí Hay Dragones" por Brian Dunning)]


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