Monday, December 16, 2019

Ker's "The Dark Ages", Part 4: Miscellany

Continued from part 3

This is just a big pile of quotes that I thought were interesting, but didn't feel like needed too much elaboration.

"[Lucian] shows that...  the myth is what the author makes it; it is a theme, a suggestion, from which new fancies may arise."

"Over that lake thai se lygge / A wonder longe narowe brygge / two mile of lengthe hit was semande / And scaisely the brede of ane hande."
An Irish description of the Bridge of Dread, two miles long and the breadth of a hand, from the Vision of Adamnan.

"There is a pretty scene with an elf or dwarf, true of word, as these wights always are."

"In the Middle Ages, Germany is ahead of France in a kind which is reckoned peculiarly French; the earliest fabliaux are in German Latin, with Swabians for comic heroes - the story of the Snow-Child, and How the Swabian Made the King Say 'That's a Story!'."
I feel like dark ages German comedic poetry might be the most obscure topic I've ever read about.

"The appearance of Sigrun the Valkyrie in the air, riding with her company of armed maidens to take Helgi for her champion, is one of the magical adventures that make these romances of the North so different from the Anglo-Saxon stories.  There is no elf-queen in Beowulf."
To which Tolkien surely replied, "Hold my tea."

"Not to wine do I wake you, nor to women's spell, but I wake you to the stern play of the war-goddess."
From the Bjarkamal, which is a great name.

"The Icelandic poets had studied in their own manner the poem that is meant for direct assault, like the Provencal sirventes, not to speak of Archillocus or Catullus.  One of them was called Serpent-Tongue (Worm-tongue, Ormstunga) and the name was deserved by many more."
So you see, Wormtongue was actually a bard.

"[Cynewulf] is a tale like that of Finnesburh, or Roland, or Percy Reed, a good defence against enemies, an old motive repeated often enough in real conflicts without a poet to record the tragedy, and never so often repeated in prose or rhyme as to lose its interest or its dignity."

"All history in Iceland shaped itself as biography, or as drama, and there was no large crowd at the back of the stage."
A stylistic consideration - do your games have faceless multitudes?

"A green knoll, at the face of the sun and the back of the wind, where they were near to their friends and far from their foes."
An example of antithesis in Irish poetry.

"The stories, whether of cattle spoils or abductions, voyages, wooing, or violent death, according to the Irish Catalogue of favorite topics, are full of wonders; and even simple business, like ordinary fighting, is described with an air of surprise."
There're plenty of Norse sourcebooks, and a few for post-Roman Britain, but man, I feel like a game set in fantasy Ireland with adventure seeds drawn from the Catalogue could be pretty great.  Like Pendragon but with more cattle rustling.

"The French poem of the pilgrimage of Charlemagne is not affected by the crusade, and must have been composed before it.  The interest in it is largely comic; the enormous boasting of the paladins and their miraculous successes are more like the humour of Morgante and other Italian stories than the heroism of Roland."
Here's to another thousand years of paladin jokes.

"The song of Roland, though earlier than the First Crusade, is a crusading epic - the poem of Christendom against the infidel.  It is also the epic of France, "sweet France"; the honor of the kingdom is constantly remembered, and not merely out of duty, but because it is the spirit and life of the poem, as much as Rome is in the Aeneid.  Naturally, the grandeur and solemnity of these ruling thoughts makes the epic of Roncesvalles very different from most of the Teutonic poems, where characters have seldom any impersonal cause to fight for, and the heroic moral is restricted to the bond of loyalty between a lord and his companions...   The heroes lose as dramatis personae what they gain as representing grand ideals...  The epic of Roland may be taken, in a way, as closing the Dark Ages."
Another stylistic consideration - are your characters tied to abstract loyalties, or personal loyalties?

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