Hic [now] Sunt Dracones


Illustrated maiden and dragon myths were popular in the 19th century as a way to allow gentlemen to look at pictures of naked and bound women, while maintain the illusion that this was not pathological, as such activities were generally thought of those days. This so-called male gaze has been trivialized since then not in the least by the rise of a female gaze that now claims it’s turn “on top,” perhaps even in a non-gendered, more business-like way. Recent retellings of these stories are usually revisionist in that in them maidens rescue heroes and join forces with dragons to defeat a common foe.

The maiden in the myth of old is usually no more than an object to be possessed and the dragon another object preventing that. These days both maiden and dragon are being for themselves, they have intentions as much as the hero does. And if their gazes meet his, he becomes aware that they have intentions, which makes it difficult for him to engage them as objects.

Difficult but not impossible; one can objectify a subject by invoking an existing social difference like a boss does to an employee, or a new physical one like voyeur does with a photograph. But a hero is neither boss nor voyeur.

And these days the maiden and the dragon don’t need a hero anymore, and a hero’s no hero without them. Dragon and maiden, as shown here, now gaze at each other; they plot merged operations. They say “In these difficult…times,” “regrettably” layoffs were necessary to “move forward.” The position “hero” was eliminated.