There is something tantalizing about mythological fire-breathing dragons, and even more so when they meet their comeuppance from George the dragon slayer. Britain has claimed George as their patron saint, numerous football clubs are named after him, a local district or two, and churches beyond number. So St.George has certainly left his mark.
The story has it that George was a soldier who served in the Roman army when Diocletian was emperor. He was a handsome and courteous man, so they said, known for his personal courage and kindness. During the reign of Diocletian an edict was published ordering the persecution of Christians. George determined to help his mates who were being arrested and tried, and so he set off for the city of Rome to plead their cause. On the way he passed through Beirut and saw that the locals were in a real bind with a massive rogue crocodile. The crocodile had them all bluffed and they had even started throwing young girls to it to try to stop it attacking them indiscriminately. What's a girl or two among friends? So George turned the crocodile into a handbag or two and went on his way to Rome. As it turned out, his appeal was in vain, and he himself was charged with being a Christian. He was ordered to worship the emperor as God, but he refused. Instead, he told the authorities that in his opinion Jesus was God. For this he was tortured and beheaded. The year was 303.AD.
I have to say that George sounds a little like the mythological Australian bushman, an image nicely captured in the film Crocodile Dundee. So maybe the Australian equivalent for St.George is St.Mike after Mike Dundee. Sadly, Mike in real life was anything but a saint, but the Australian bushman is always a saint.
Crocodile Dundee certainly does portray the Australian myth; the self-reliant, kind, brave man who will never let his mates down. And he is the man who believes in Jesus, but doesn't wear it on his sleeve. This is rather an interesting feature of the Australian myth, when you think about it. Today we have a rampant secular Australia putting the boot into the Christian church and yet the myth of our nationhood demands a belief in God.
"Are you afraid to die?" Asked the Journo.
"No" Replied Hoges.
"Are you religious?" continued the journalist.
"I am, if that means believing in Jesus and them Apostles. They were ordinary blokes, they were fisherman like me." Dundee then looked across the vast expanse of bushland before him. The awe and the mystery of it flickered across his face. "Yeah, me and God - we'd be mates!"