BY HANNAH HORN
In the books of mythology, the Romanian Balaur is an enticing creature. The Balaur resides among the mythic dragons and dragon-like beings, who retain their unique traits and cultural elements from their fitting lores. Covered in serpentine scales, the balauri also acquired wings, legs, and fins to monstrously adapt and prey on their feed in numerous terrains.
The majority of the legend’s stories rely on the idea that they have multiple heads ranging from three to twelve, though others might describe a Balaur with a single head or a head at the front of the beast and one at the end of its tail. Also, the Balaur are often expressed as colossal creatures with enthralling measurements, much like the phrase that it can “plant(ed) its footsteps on the mountain and touch(ed) the violet skies with its lofty crest.”
The Balauri are not just rotten lifeforms, they also obtained several distinct qualities that make them peculiar when compared to other European dragons. In many folklore sagas, the foul foes are actually snakes that have transformed from long periods of isolation under the ground, growing a brand-new head after every year that passes. Fascinatingly, they looked like ginormous snakes with legs and when in a herd, they would mimic much like a shocking hydra-creature with their necks. Arguably, some legends give the compelling Balauri the fire-breathing credit of dragons while others claim that they could also lead the weather and sway thunder, lightning, and hail.
While acting accordingly in the direction of their abnormal nature, instances of the Balauri possessing human-like voices with the ability to speak and to use reason have been accounted for. In Wallachia, individuals will speak of the risky stone treasures made from the saliva of the Balauri, which they will often guard and admire. Some fables even claim that whoever kills a Balaur would have a sin forgiven!
Notable early accounts of the Balaur were traveled down through oral translations until the fairy tales made their way to print many years later. In the 19th century, Petre Inspirescu’s mythology collections captivated and told hundreds of Romanian myths, others quickly followed in his footsteps with the production of more lore books. Most of the Balauri tales handle conflict involving their enemy Făt Frumos, who mirrored much of a heroic and handsome prince charming. The standard rendition of this folk telling began with the Balaur tormenting the lands while Făt Frumos shielded the people. Frumos often took care of a stunning maiden who was destined to become his bride, following the conquering of the Balaur at the end. Intentional or not, there are even Christian parallels present in Balauri legends with the customary evil serpent, the brave hero, and chosen woman in distress; which you can see also as parallels to various myths around the world. Despite the brute’s takedowns from the dragon slayer, Balaurs still managed to tyrannize thousands of citizens with their mighty force while also wreaking havoc on many civilizations.
Recently, scientists uncovered the remains of a new dinosaur in Romania, giving it the name of ‘balaur bondoc’ or ‘stocky dragon’ after the elder mythic creatures. Though, the organism was relatively smaller, it was still an explosive and powerful beast, so the folk tales might be more than just legend, after all!