Draco guarding Immortality
Coiled around the sky’s north pole is the celestial dragon, Draco. Legend has it that this is the dragon slain by Heracles during one of his labors. Named Ladon, his duty was to guard the Gardens of the Hesperides, a beautiful orchard which was cultivated by the wife of Zeus, Hera.
The garden was named after the nymphs who looked after the trees in the orchard. The apples that grew on one of the trees were not of the ordinary variety, known as the golden apples they granted immortality to anyone who devoured them.
Hera had been given the golden apple tree as a wedding present when she married Zeus. She was so delighted with it that she planted it in on the slopes of Mount Atlas and set the Hesperides ("Daughters of the Evening") to guard it with the help of the dragon to ward off pilferers.
Oil on cradled wood panel. 6" x 8" (15.25 x 20.5 cm). Private collection.