The major part of these creatures are not chimeras but objects of rational study. The dragon, in place of being a creature evolved out of the imagination of Aryan man by the contemplation of lightning flashing through the caverns which he tenanted, as is held by some mythologists, is an animal which once lived and dragged its ponderous coils, and perhaps flew ; which devastated herds, and on occasions swallowed their shepherd; which, establishing its lair in some cavern overlooking the fertile plain, spread terror and destruction around, and, protected from assault by dread or superstitious feeling, may even have been subsidised by the terror-stricken peasantry, who, failing the power to destroy it, may have preferred tethering offerings of cattle adjacent to its cavern to having it come down to seek supplies from amongst their midst. On the first landing of Pizarro the Mexicans entertained the opinion that man and horse were parts of one strange animal, and we have thus a clue to the explanation of the origin of the belief in centaurs from a distant view of horse-men, a view possibly followed by the immediate flight of the observer, which rendered a solution of the extraordinary phenomenon impossible.
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