The English word “Dragon” derives from Greek Δρακων (drákon), “dragon, serpent of huge size, water-snake.” One of Hekate’s epithets is “propylaya” ” she who stands before the gate”. Hekate’s hound is the three-headed dog Cerberus who guards the gateway to the underworld and there are some myths that believe that dogs replaced dragons.

The tenth century Byzantine encyclopaedia, the Suda, paraphrased Pseudo –Nonnos’ commentaries on the orations of Gregory Nazianzenus describing Hekate thus:

“Some (say that she is) Artemis, others the moon appearing in strange manifestations for those invoking curses. Her manifestations (are) Humans with the heads of dragons, and of immense size, so that the sight stupefies those who see it.”  27 C10th CE, trans Hutton, W.

This late description unites the imagery associated with Medea as the steeds pulling her  chariot in some of the tales with the immense size associated with Hekate in stories like Lucian’s Philopseudes, where she is described as having dragon’s feet 28. The dragons of Medea were a pair of winged, serpentine dragons which drew the flying chariot of the witch Medea. She summoned them to escape from Korinthos following the murder of King Kreon, his daughter Kreousa and her own children by Jason 29.


27 Stoa Consortium 2000- 2016. Entry- Headword: Hecate. Adler Number: Epsilon 364. Available from: http://www.stoa.org/sol-entries/epsilon/364

28 d’Este, S. and Rankine, D. 2009. Hekate: Liminal Rites. London: Avalonia, pg 105.

29 Vellacot, P. 1963. Euripedes Medea and Other Plays. London: Penguin Books.

The Symbols of the Goddess Hekate
Also see: