Where does the idea that dragons hoard gold come from?

I can't think of many myths of dragons hoarding gold. The closest I come up with is the dragon that guarded the Golden Fleece. And even that's a stretch as it wasn't gold specifically.

  • Kundalini yoga is described as a burning serpent coiling up the spine accumulating some sort of bioenergy in the chakras until it overloads and spills out the head violently like a burning fire. The same symbolism appears in the Bible as a Seraph or a bronze staff with a snake coiled around it, called a Caduceus by the Greeks. Mar 9, 2018 at 5:35

2 Answers 2


The Colchian dragon isn't the only dragon protecting treasure in Greek mythology. A couple more examples:

  • Ladon guarded the golden apples in the garden of the Hesperides,
  • Python guarded the centre of the earth at Delphi, and
  • Ares assigned a dragon to protect his sacred spring near Thebes (look up the myths of Cadmus).

However, if you are looking for a dragon protecting gold specifically, then I think the more characteristic examples from European folklore are:

In fact, unless I'm horribly mistaken, the latter one is often credited as the main inspiration behind Smaug, the iconic gold-hoarding dragon in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit.

  • 1
    I'd say that Fafnir likely also was part of the inspiration, as LoTR owes a lot to the Völsunga saga in general. But that is a nitpick.
    – andejons
    Mar 9, 2018 at 10:16
  • @Andejons Actually, the Children of Húrin is the story most like the Volsunga. Think Fafnir->Glaurung instead of Smaug.
    – Spencer
    May 31, 2019 at 18:24

The earliest appearance in Western history and literature is in Herodotus. The Scythians are famous for their gold art objects. He says that way up north in the Altai mountains where the Scythians mined their gold and made their gold objects, there were gryphons guarding piles of gold. The gryphon was a four footed bird. That mythical creature easily turned into the dragon.

  • Hi and welcome to M&F SE, please take some time to make the tour. Your answer is interesting but would be way better if you added some links to sources to support your claims. As well, some quotes from the texts where Herodotus gave those informations would add some more content to work from
    – Calaom
    May 28, 2019 at 8:43

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