Myth and folktales



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Not only the dragon or blagonič, but also the devil or a dwarf can be hatched out 
of an egg of a rooster. Moreover, a creature similar to the dragon can evolve from a 
hundred-year old snake, a frog, a crab or even a fish. 
CHASING AWAY THE DRAGONS
Mainly because the dragons caused storms and natural disasters, the people 
chased them away in a similar way as they did natural disasters, such as hail, strong 
winds and storms. They actually believed that magic can chase away the dragons 
and that only some chosen people have such power in their hands. These were the 
people who had expert knowledge and they had to go to different schools where they 
learned secret skills. The dragons and the snakes can be chased away by a črnošolec 
(sorcerer’s apprentice), a person who has supernatural abilities. Thus, they believed 
they can summon the dragon from a swamp, mount it, and ride with it into the “land 
of the rising sun”. The people also believed that the sorcerer’s apprentice, the kresnik, 
knew where all the treasures, which are kept by the dragon, are hidden. 
Matija Valjavec also noted down the folk narrative that the pozoj is a big horse 
with wings, which can be mounted only by the grabancijaš dijak (sorcerer’s appren-
tice) who goes with it into the land of the Arabs. 
Ivan Grafenauer believed that the grabancijaš dijak, the same as the črnošolec 
or the student of the thirteenth college, was a sorcerer which acted in the name of 
natural forces in the Kaj-Croatian and Eastern-Štajerska narratives. These forces 
try to kill the small dragon when it is born with everything they have at their dis-
posal (Grafenauer 1956: 324). Grafenauer agrees with Jagić that people believed 
that the grabancijaš dijak was equated with a young priest. The grabancijaš dijak, 
the sorcerer’s apprentice, the student of the thirteenth college were supposed to be 
young priests. Jagić tried to prove that a priest or a pure young man was, according 
to medieval definition, needed for exorcism by the church. They started to appear 
in folktales to protect people from the evil spirits and also from their servants who 
were thought to cause storms. Uneducated people also believed that these wizards 
did not just conjure or pray but also used their magical powers (Jagić 1877: 456). 
The etymology of the name grabancijaš does not suggest that it is derived from the 
word priest, but from the Latin word nacromantes and Italian negromanzia, gra-
manzia (Miloševoć-Đorđević 1984). Grabancijaš, who chased the dragons away, was 
therefore named after a nekromant, i.e. the one who chases the souls of the deceased 
away, the sorcerer. 
The black school in which grabancijaš dijak or črnošolec learned their skills is, 
according to some folktales, named the “Thirteenth College in Bologna”. Grafenauer 


112
assumed that this school was a variation of the School in the Tower of Babel 
(Grafenauer 1956: 325–326), which Radoslav Razlag mentions in one of his records 
of folk tradition near Ljutomer and Mala Nedelja:
These students train different secret arts; they sit on a stick like pigeons do and 
every year the dragon takes away one out of ten of them.
71
Matija Valjavec noted down a legend in Ludberg in which he mentions the 
Thirteenth College in Bologna:
Nobody can chase away the dragon except for the grabancijaš dijak, who visits 
the thirteenth college in Bologna. These students have a big wheel with thirteen 
spokes. Each grabancijaš steps on one of them. They spin the wheel as fast as 
they can and the one which is the first to fly away is the real grabancijaš, the 
one who will be the first to chase away the dragon (Valjavec1866: 309–310, 
no. 10). 
Josip Freuensfeld heard people talking about the sorcerer’s apprentice, who have 
power over dragons. He writes that:
Only a sorcerer’s apprenticehas the power over a dragon, he mounts it and 
rides it and calls up lightning, thunder and hail. A seven-year-old rooster 
once hatched an egg, which was as big as pigeon’s. He buried it in manure, 
where it was found by the shepherds. They cracked it and a dragon jumped 
out and killed all their cattle. The sorcerer’s apprentice could chase it away. 
He is also the only one who can chase away the dragon which evolves from a 
crab. It is so powerful that its hail can kill everything (Freuensfeld 1886: 270).
In his hometown Prežigal near Slovenske Konjice, Josip Pajek heard people talk 
about a dragon that could be chased away also with the help of a priest, who would 
offer mass just in time, or on regular basis: 
The dragon in konjiška Gora (Mt. konjice)
The lintvert lives in the marsh at the top of the Konjice Mountain. The parish 
church has to offer a mass every Friday to keep the lintvern (dragon) in the 
mountain. Still, it sometimes escapes and a violent frtuna, which is a storm, 
strikes (Pajek 1884: 89).
72
 
71 
Razlag 1852: 98; Pajek 1884: 90; Kelemina 1930: 41, no. 4/4.
72 
Compare also: Krainz 1879: 15–16; Kelemina 1930: 241–24, no. 173. 


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THE DEFEATED DRAGONS
Many folktales describe a dragon that can be defeated with a trick or by using 
force, especially when it abducts girls and cattle and destroys the place where they 
live. The dragon from Wörthersee was given a wagon full of lime. After he ate all 
of this lime and quenched his thirst with water, and the dragon burst after this.
73
 
A similar thing happened to the Postojna dragon (Kleinmayr 1928: 16–17; Dapit, 
Kropej 2004: 40, no. 24). 
Another variation of this story about the dragon from Wörthersee/Lake Wört 
near Celovec/Klagenfurt explains that the dragon was defeated by strong and fear-
less man named Hercules:
The dragon of Celovec
There is a lake now where many centuries ago the old Celovec Castle stood. 
Those who lived in the castle were insolent and believed in nothing but having 
a good time. Even at Christmas they would dance and make merry which ran 
against local tradition and the beliefs at the time.
Once, an old man came to the castle with a little barrel under his arm. He 
warned the people saying: “Stop. Stop, go and repent! Otherwise I will pull 
the plug on this barrel and everything will be flooded.” People laughed at him: 
“What can you do with that little barrel?” They danced on and continued to 
make merry. Later in the evening, he reappeared and warned them again, 
“Stop. Stop dancing, or I tell you everything will be flooded.” But again there 
was just laughter. The third time he came around midnight, “If you will not 
obey, I will pull the plug!” And he did.
Water began to pour out of the barrel and it ran and ran for so long that the town 
was completely flooded. That is how the lake at Celovec was formed. For many 
years after, a bell could still be heard chiming deep down in the lake. On that 
spot a church was built – dedicated to the Virgin of Goretti and it is a place of 
pilgrimage for Koroškans where they pray for rain. Many years later, the people 
built the new town of Celovec where it still stands today, not far from the lake.
Close to the lake lived a farmer who had a seven year old rooster. That rooster 
laid an egg that was buried in horse manure. Out of that egg hatched a dragon 
that grew and grew. He was incredibly voracious. He lived in the lake where he 
caught fish and everything else that he could swallow. If he did not find enough 
food, he came inland and dined on passing carriage drivers and their horses. 
He grew to be twelve metres in length from head to tail. He had such a strong 
breath that he could use it to pull everything towards himself, even a person 
73 
L. Reggi, Zmaj v celovški okolici. Mir 24 (1905).




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