Medieval Arthurian Legend
Sir Thomas Malory: Le Morte d'Arthur
15th century, late-Medieval English.
Sir Lancelot lifts up the lid of the tomb and sees 'a fyendely dragon spyttynge fyre oute of hys mowthe.'
Sir Lancelot has just rescued a damsel from a steaming hot room in which she has been trapped for five years by witchcraft. They go to a church together to give thanks to God for her deliverance. But the people all implore him: ‘Sir knight, since you have delivered this lady you must deliver us also –
frome a serpente whyche ys here in a tombe.
‘Sirs, take me to it, and whatever I can do shall be done,’ said Sir Lancelot, taking up his shield.
On the tomb is an enigmatic inscription in letters of gold: ‘A leopard of royal blood shall come here and kill this serpent; and this leopard shall engender a lion who shall surpass all other knights.’
When Sir Lancelot lifts up the lid of the tomb a fiendish dragon rises up –
a fyendely dragon spyttynge fyre oute of hys mowthe. Sir Lancelot draws his sword and struggles for a long while with this beast,
...and at the last wyth grete payne sir Launcelot slew that dragon.