Basic Information

Type/Species: Wurm
Origin: Greek Mythology

About Python

Python was an enormous dragon that formed from the slime near Delphi after the great flood, [1] though other accounts claim that Python was the child of Gaia, the earth-mother goddess. [2,4] Python was referred to as female in some texts and male in others; however, the texts referred to the same dragon. [4]

Python grew so vast that her coils surrounded the entire region of Delphi, [1] where the monster lived to protect the oracle of her mother, Gaia. [2] The dragon made her lair in the cave of Mount Parnassus; [3] alternatively, Python inhabited the entire ancient Greek site of Delphi. [9]

Hera, the Queen of the Gods, counted the monstrous serpent as her pet, [5] so no one dared to harm Python, even though she devastated the villages and the lands of Delphi for many years. [8]

Titanus Leto became pregnant with the twin children of Zeus, Apollo and Artemis, which attracted the wrath of Zeus's wife Hera. [5] She sent Python to torment and kill Leto during her pregnancy. When Python finally cornered her, Poseidon, the god of the sea, hid Leto in a wave to save her. [1] The attack failed, and both children survived. [5]

When the dragon, giving up her search for Leto, returned to her home in the mountain, the newly born god Apollo waited for her in the Gorge of Parnassus. [1] With the arrows forged by the god Hephaestus, [1] Apollo shot the dragon, [6] slaying her in her cavern in Mount Parnassus. [5]

The Legacy of Python

In honor of his victory, Apollo instituted the Pythian games, [5] and Apollo's priestess at Delphi took the name Pythia. [9] By killing Python, Apollo gained possession of the oracular site at Delphi [6] and made his sanctuary there. [7] In thanks for protecting their villages and lands, the people built Apollo a temple to commemorate his victory over the serpent. [8] The oracle in the temple took the name Pytho, meaning from the rotting corpse of the beast. [1]

In Greece and Rome, pythons were believed to have oracular gifts. During the Classical times of Greece, priestesses known as Pythonesses worshiped pythons in temples at Claros. [5] These beliefs may have underpinned ideas like the monstrous Python's choice of habitat and her death at the hands of the God of Prophecy.

Physical Description

Python was an enormous serpent of tremendous power and a huge, coiling body. Art of the male version of Python show the enormous serpent.

Depictions of the female Python present her with the upper torso and head of a woman, much like Echidna, the Mother of Monsters, with whom the female Python had an association. [4]

Quick Facts

  • Python is considered the child of Gaia, the earth mother. [2,4]
  • Hera ordered Python to torment and kill Leto when she was pregnant with Apollo and Artemis. [1]
  • The Pythian games commemorate Apollo's slaughter of Python. [5]
  • Python terrorized the villages and lands around Delphi for years. [8]


  1. Rose [Dragons] 302
  2. Lurker 292
  3. Turner [Ancient] 393
  4. PYTHON: She-dragon of Delphi
  5. Allardice 178
  6. Littleton 184
  7. Littleton 185
  8. Wilkinson [Eyewitness] 48
  9. Cotterell 233

For more information on footnotes and references, please see the bibliography.