Dragons are usually interpreted as monstrous fiends, one that the heroes must defeat to protect a damsel or save a village. In Chinese culture dragons are a token of good luck and embroidered on a warrior’s chest or shield to grant them good fortune in battle. In Greek mythology dragons were good or evil depending on the story you’re reading. The Greek Gods believed that dragons can be used to guard important items, yet in some legends it aided the Gods in mundane tasks like pulling chariots or becoming constellations.
The Greek Dragon Ladon
Ladon was the serpent dragon that is seen wrapped around the tree in the Garden of the Hesperides, where the golden apples resided. Many claim its resemblance to the Hydra as it had many heads and was another monster slain by Heracles. Ladon is known to be the offspring of the sea goddess Ceto, and brother of the Greek monster The Nemean lion. Ladon is recognized today as the constellation Draco, which in Latin means dragon.
The Judgment of Paris
During the wedding of Peleus, King of the Myrmidons and Thetis, a sea nymph, Eris the Goddess of Discord was turned away. In her anger she tossed a golden apple with the inscription “To the Fairest”, And the apple reached Hera, Queen of Mount Olympus, Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, and Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, they struggled to agree who amongst them deserved the title. Zeus, tasked with settling the matter sent Hermes, God of Messages, to ask Paris of Troy to choose which Goddess should win.
The three Goddesses appeared before Paris with gifts of bribery to earn his favor. Hera offered for him to become King of Europe, Athena offered for him wisdom and skill in war and Aphrodite offered him the love of the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris choose Aphrodite leading to the abduction of Helen of Troy, which led directly to the Trojan War and the fall of the city of Troy.
I believe if Ladon hadn’t been slain by Heracles, then Eris, the Goddess of Discord, would have had access to the golden apples, thus preventing the judgement of Paris. Paris only won Helen of Troy by the intervention of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. Helen was married to King Menelaus, which was one of the factors behind the Trojan War.
Furthermore, our perception of what is good or bad can change given the circumstances. Even outside influences can change how we perceive things especially if we are only given a biased opinion of the story. Dragons can be an ally, or a deadly foe given its motive.