"She never created a friend, but seemed always to be sowing broadcast the dragon’s teeth, whence sprung a harvest of armed enemies, against whom she rushed to battle"
The Crop of the Dragon's Teeth (1919)
Public DomainThe Crop of the Dragon's Teeth (1919) - Credit: John Dickson Batten

Greek mythology testifies to the hazards attendant upon dragon dentistry. The Argonautica tells that one of the trials which Jason must pass in order to win the golden fleece is to sow four acres of land with dragons' teeth; each of these will grow into an armed warrior and Jason must defeat them all before they can slay him. He succeeds in this by using a piece of trickery recommended by Medea: he hurls a rock into their midst and, since they cannot work out where it has come from, the warriors turn on each other with deadly force.

The Phoenician prince Cadmus confronts a similar challenge after the water-dragon who guards the Castalian Spring kills his followers. Cadmus gets his revenge by slaying the dragon and then, on the advice of Athena, pulls out his teeth and sows them in the ground. As in the Jason myth, they sprout into warriors and Cadmus overcomes them by employing the same trick. In this case, however, five survive and go on to help him build the great citadel of Thebes. Hawthorne published a retelling of this myth in his Tanglewood Tales (1853). Read it below.