Why Lope de Vega titled his poem La Dragontea, what were the prerequisites? I tried to search the etymology of this word but was not successful.

Yes, I know that Chinese Dragon Tea exists, but I suppose it has nothing to do with Vega's poem, because Longjing tea was named Dragon Tea by English speakers, and Vega was a Spanish-speaking author, so this is irrelevant.

I also know an old music-hit Dragostea Din Tei but this is ridiculous as this name has Romanian language origin :)

I've found couple of researches about this book but they are all paid, so I cannot inspect them up.

Anybody knows the etymology or story of invention of this word? Some credible historical evidences?

  • Dragon is etymologically related to Drake, the protagonist. I'm not a Spanish speaker but could the -tea suffix be something like "the story of", like "The Odyssee" is to Odysseus?
    – Jos
    Apr 18, 2020 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


The subject of Vega’s poem is the disastrous expedition of Francis Drake against the Spanish colony of Panamá in Central America, where he met his death of dysentery in 1596. ‘Drake’ of course means ‘dragon’, and Vega combined this with ‘tea’, meaning ‘fire-torch’ in Spanish, to produce an image of the English sailor as a fire-breathing dragon:

Como el Alva sus parpados abria
estornudando resplandor intenso,
lamparas de su boca despedia,
de sus narices humo negro y denso

His eyelids, raised, released the light of dawn;
His snorting breath lit up the heavens with fire;
His mouth sent tongues of flame into the sky;
His nostrils poured out black and smoking clouds.

Lope Félix de Vega Carpio. ‘La Dragontea’, Canto X. In Coleccion de las Obras Sueltas (1776), volume 3, p. 371. Madrid: Antonio de Sancha. The (somewhat fanciful) English translation is from Simon Schama (2015), The Face of Britain, Viking.

  • Drake’ of course means ‘dragon’ in what language it means dragon? in English drake is a male duck, in Spanish there is no such word as well. I'm non-English and neither Spanish-native (though know it a litlle) so word Drake is pretty unlike to any other word I know in Eng/Esp
    – Suncatcher
    Apr 18, 2020 at 19:12
  • 5
    You might need a bigger dictionary! The Oxford English Dictionary says "drake, n. 1.a. = dragon" and the word goes back to the Old English poem Beowulf, in which the hero fights a "fyrdraca" (a fire-drake). The English word comes from Latin draco. Apr 18, 2020 at 19:19
  • 1
    You might need a bigger dictionary indeed :) thanks for your guidance
    – Suncatcher
    Apr 18, 2020 at 19:20

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