Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Week 13 Story: The End of Beowulf

 A Tale from the Background

Sven stared enviously at the pile of gold in the dragon's lair. Wiglaf had just commanded all of the earls, Sven included, to trek to the lair and cart back the whole pile of gold back to the pyre.

He claimed this was penance for their cowardice in the face of the dragon's onslaught, but Sven felt he was just being practical. When a dragon comes to rend your flesh, only the heroes like Beowulf actually ran towards the beast. Sven knew his role in the world and promptly ran away as far as possible at the first sign of the dragon. 

Of course, this meant that he left Beowulf to fight the dragon alone, but so had the other thirty-odd earls! When Wiglaf arrived, Sven and the others knew the dragon would soon be roasting over their cook fires tonight. No one expected the dragon to get the lucky shot in on the legendary Beowulf and they were even more surprised to see Wiglaf hold it together long enough at the sight of his dying friend to finish off the dragon.

Following Beowulf's requests uttered from his dying breath, Wiglaf had brought a piece of the dragon's treasure for Beowulf to inspect before he died. However, that small token of the riches did not satisfy Wiglaf's devotion to his king and friend.

So, here the earls were: loading carts of gold in the lair. Sven did his part, but he also loaded an extra coin in his pocket or gem in his sock every few minutes. Wiglaf had said that whoever took a piece of the treasure would be killed for the crime, but Sven was greedy and the treasure was so large that surely no one would notice a few missing pieces. 

When he had loaded the last cart he followed it back down the muddy track to the pyre of Beowulf. He helped pour the gold and gems over the pyre alongside two other earls, Ulf and Halvar. Sven had had a long-standing feud with Halvar over many things, but they had both ran away at the sight of the dragon that morning. 

As they were about to finish unloading the final cart, Halvar turned a quizzical eye to Sven. It was just then that Sven noticed that his shirt was clinking with the sound of coins as he moved, after they had finished. A look of triumph came over Halvar's face as Sven's sank into despair. 

Quickly, Halvar called "Thief!" to Wiglaf and Sven stared in horror. Wiglaf, still bathed in dragon blood, strode over to Sven and knocked him out with one powerful blow to the jaw...

Fire New Year'S Eve Funeral Pyre - Free photo on Pixabay

Sven awoke tied to a stake buried in the ground. His vision was still blurry, but he dimly saw the body of the dragon being rolled over the cliffs into the ocean below. As the crowd was returning to where Sven was tied, he noticed a pair of torches in Wiglaf's hands.

In between Sven and the cliff was the pyre of Beowulf. There stopped Wiglaf and the crowd for a few moments as he stooped down and lit the fire. It quickly flared up, the piles of gold glimmering in the blaze. Once the flames began to die down the crowd turned their attention to the bound Sven.

Wiglaf spake unto him, "You see that pyre over there? That pyre is burning to honor the death of a king. You will burn at this stake a thief who dishonored that king's memory. That gold you stole was meant for the king; but, because of your greed, I decided that which you stole will be burned with you. It will mar this ground and serve as a tainted reminder of an ignoble wretch."

Horror dawned over Sven at the same moment as he noticed the gold scattered amongst the pile of logs at his feet. He began to plead, but the resolve of Wiglaf was of stone as he plunged the torch into the logs. Casting a last, desperate look at the crowd, Sven saw the grinning face of Halvar before the flames rose and Sven crumpled amongst them. 

Author's Note 

This story is a narration of the death and burning of Beowulf, the Scandinavian hero. I wanted to try and change the perspective of the story by introducing a new character who was not present in the original tale: Sven. In the original, the earls are mentioned as a collective group multiple times and I wanted to personify what the earls must have been thinking and feeling in one representative character in this story. The earls did the smart things and ran from a dragon, but in the process they abandoned their king to face its alone which led to his death. Wiglaf honors his king's wishes and has the gold burned on the pile with him, an act the earls must have found ludicrous. Surely one would have tried to steal this gold and I felt that Wiglaf, in his grief-stricken state, would likely have responded in a way similar to what I wrote of. Thank you guys so much for reading!

Story Source: The Story of Beowulf by Henry Pitz

Image Source: Pixibay

Week 13: Reading Notes, Part B

 The End of Beowulf

The Story of Beowulf by Henry Pitz

Free Images - bestof:Lokasenna by Lorenz Frølich.jpg A  depiction of Norse gods assembled as in the Poetic Edda poem Lokasenna 1895  by Lorenz Frølich Published in Gjellerup Karl

(Image Source: Snappy Goat)

Plot Points

  • Beowulf is in the middle of the fight with the dragon and is faring poorly
  • Suddenly, his friend Wiglaf joins him in the fray
  • With his friend's aid the fight turns in their favor
  • A unblocked attack takes Beowulf by surprise and fells him
  • As his king lay dying, Wiglaf stabs and kills the dragon
  • As Beowulf draws his last breaths, Wiglaf brings a treasure for the horde to Beowulf
  • Beowulf then dies and is laid upon a pyre with all the dragon's treasure 
  • The dragon's body is rolled into the sea as Beowulf burns...

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Week 13: Reading Notes, Part A

 Beowulf's Resolve

The Story of Beowulf by Henry Pitz

Anton Pieck Helden der mensheid 1941 ill Beowulf a | Flickr

(Image Source: Flickr)

Plot Points:

  • Beowulf is sitting within the drinking-room of the king of Hygelac as the Wanderer gives the tale of Grendel
  • Sitting there, a fire is lit within Beowulf and he commits to kill the beast
  • As the Wanderer finishes the tale, Beowulf stands up and shouts he will kill the beast
  • He says he owes a debt to king Hygelac for his father's sake
  • The room agrees with him, that he is the best suited for the job and that he should leave immediately 
  • Agreeing, Beowulf packs and leaves to fight the beast

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Week 12 Story: The Passing of Merlin

 A Tale of Foresight

Merlin looked forlornly at Arthur and knew that the time had come. Merlin had known every aspect and every moment of his life since he had first mastered the arts of foresight as a young man. His master had told him not to peer into the future for he would hate what he saw in the future. As a foolish bull-headed bachelor, he ignored his master and peered into his future seeking what his love would be like and who it would be. 

In that moment he saw every aspect of the hopeless romance and he grew troubled at what he saw, for he was confused by the who lived within the story of his future. To understand better, he then peered into the entirety of his future and learned every aspect of every moment for the rest of his life. He saw the importance of a boy named Arthur who would go on to change the whole kingdom and he knew how important his role would be in that change.

Distressed, he came to in the moment he had seen all of his future. He knew what would happen to him and he knew he could not change it. Merlin also knew he had 80 years to come to terms with his mortality before his demise, to the day. 

And now, here he was, two weeks before he knew he would die. He knew this would be his last day with Arthur, so he shared every piece of advise he had gleaned from the future with him in hopes that he would be able to escape his fate, even though Merlin knew that he himself could not. 

As soon as he had finished speaking to Arthur, he saw her. The woman who would kill him. The woman he instantly fell in love with. Vivien.

She was as beautiful as he had seen in his premonitions of the future, but now he was in the present and he knew he could not escape the allure of her. Like a fish caught by the most appealing of lures, he was caught in a trap which he could not comprehend for all his knowledge. 

BURNE-Jones, Edward Beguiling of Merlin, 1874 | Sir Edward C… | Flickr

Blinded by love, he followed after her day after day. Even though he knew she despised him, he followed still in a trance caused by her beauty. Yet, Vivien asked many questions of the legendary wizard. She asked him of all his spells and all his knowledge in the arcane arts. 

Against all reason, he told her every scrap of knowledge he knew of magic. Everything his master had taught him so many years ago and every piece of magic he had made himself and shared with no other soul. 

Once she knew she had learned all she could form Merlin, Vivien decided it was time to put an end to his bothersome presence. Using a piece of magic she had learned from him, she created cavern in the hillside and asked Merlin to find treasure within. Merlin knew only death awaited him in the crumbling catacombs, but he also knew that he could nothing other than follow his heart. 

Striking his staff alight on the stones, he walked into the gloom as the dirt walls began to crumble in.

Author's Note

I decided to focus primarily on Merlin's perspective in this story, as that was an aspect not discussed in the original tale. In the original, it focused primarily on the greater actions around what Merlin was doing, not so much on the man who knew how he would die and submitting to it. At first, I was incredibly confused by this tale. Surely, I thought, someone who knew how he would die, down to the last detail and in such an unavoidable way, would be able to avoid his fate. To reconcile this, I attempted to put the impetus of keeping the future for England bright by him knowing that he must sacrifice himself in such a way for that future to be achieved. Essentially, I wanted Merlin to feel he had to sacrifice himself for the greater good of England but then actually becoming entranced by Vivien's beauty. Another note, there was no reference back to his time as a student or even he having a master, for that matter, but the story was very loosely focused on Merlin's fate, so I added those elements to help make the story more cohesive and fill in some gaps that I had noticed in the original version of the tale. Thank you for reading!

(Image Source: Flickr)

(Story Source: King Arthur: Knights of the Round Table by Andrew Yang)

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Reading Notes: King Arthur, Part B

 Sir Galahad and the Mysterious Ship

King Arthur: Tales of the Round Table by Andrew Lang

Free Images - bestof:tiffany glass window stained glass  tiffany art lamp glass art lighting gentle light decoration illuminated  glass

(Image Source: Snappy Goat)

Plot Points

  • In the quest for the Holy Grail, Galahad comes to a hermitage and spends the evening there
  • While there he meets a noblewoman who promises to take him on an adventure unlike any a knight had had before
  • She leads him to a ship on which Percival and Bors are waiting with Percival's sister 
  • He joins them on their ship upon which is a magical sword which only Galahad is worthy to wield
  • The sword is really confusing but it has a bone handle which grants special properties to the wielder, including bravery and invulnerability
  • From there they went on to have many adventures as a group in search of the Grail, with Galahad and his magic sword

Monday, April 12, 2021

Reading Notes: King Arthur, Part A

 The Passing of Merlin

King Arthur: Knights of the Round Table by Andrew Yang

The Round Table | Winchester's 14th century tourist attracti… | Flickr

(Image Source: Flickr)

Plot Points:

  • Merlin tells Arthur he knows both his and Arthur's future after Merlin sees the woman who he knows will kill him
  • He then tells Arthur a few bits about his future and gives him some advice about the future
  • Then, knowing full well this lady is gonna kill him, Merlin follows her as she leaves the castle
  • Enamored by her beauty and completely entranced, he tells her anything she wishes to know, including all of his magic
  • She, not having any feelings for him in any way, kills him as soon as he tells her the last bit of knowledge he had
  • He did this all out of love, even though he knew the outcome and the exact means by which she would kill him

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Week 11 Story: The Sacred Legend

 A Tale of How Civilization Began

teepee wallpaper,sky,nature,orange,atmosphere,grass (#551917) - WallpaperUse

At the beginning of time men were in the water. They awoke from nothingness and found themselves in the water. Awareness coming to them, they came from the water to land. They were cold on land, so they twisted together grass and leaves to make clothes for themselves. Hungry they chased after deer and elk with clubs for food. Men went to bed cold and hungry many nights, dissatisfied with their lot.

One day a man took a rock and hit it upon another rock, breaking the first into sharp points. Learning this, he showed other men how to do the same. They took these sharp rocks and made arrows and spears. They used their new arrows and spears to hunt the deer and elk, making food much easier for them to find.

Yet, they were still cold, and they ate their meat raw. One man, when he was cold, took two elm roots and began to rub them together. When he did this a fog rose from the roots and a strong odor rose with it. Excited, he took what he learned back to the other men. Together they rubbed elm roots together and made fire. With this fire the men were warm, and they cooked their elk and deer over the fire. 

Yet, they grew to not like their meat cooked on the open fire and desired to find a new way to cook it. One day a man took some mud and brought it near the fire, where it turned hard. Excited, he took what he learned back to the other men and they gathered much of this mud. With it, they made pots and hardened them near the fires. Satisfied, they took the pots and filled them with water and meat and sat them in the fires. Now they had boiled meat to eat and were happy with it.

Yet, they realized that their homes were frail and cold. The grass they twisted together for their clothes they also made into their homes, but it blew away in the wind and left the men chilly at night. They tried taking the hide of deer and elk and making skin houses, but the pelts were too soft and tore when stretched fovea the frames they built. They tried to make houses of bark, but they were too heavy and collapsed. Finally, they took the hides of buffalo and stretched them over the frames. These held and made warm houses for the men. They took also these hides and made soft clothes for themselves to stay warm when they were not in their houses.

Yet, they needed to make more houses and could not chop wood quick enough. So, they took some of their sharp rocks and tied them to handles to make hatchets. The women used these hatchets to cut logs and limbs for more houses. They used their sharp rock knives to cut and treat the hides for the houses. With these, the group of men grew.

Yet, the men grew tired of eating just meat. One day a man went into the woods and found a pile of red, blue, and white stones. Thinking them valuable, he buried them by the village for him to find later. Many days later, he came back and found. plant where he buried the stones. Excited, he showed this to the other men who decided to let the plant grow and see what it would become. Many moons later, they harvested the plant and found its fruit to be beautiful reds, blues, yellows, and whites. They took these fruits and hid them for the next spring. Then they planted these stones and grew more of the colorful fruit, which they ate excitedly. 

Now men had grown from cold creatures on the shores of the water to communities where men were warm, well-fed, and growing. Men had shared with each other what they learned and all men grew from it.

Author's Note 

This story is a fairly simple retelling of the Sacred Legend of the Omaha people. It is a creation tale of sorts, but is much different than the typical creation tale. It focuses not on the gods or how animals contributed to creation and man's development, but how man helped himself to grow into a powerful force in nature. It is a tale of how men, when they rely upon one another, can help grow out of the coldest and darkest moments. I truly love this tale because it is such a different tale than any I have yet to read in this class. So often in mythology or folklore, mankind does not find its own way in the world but is assisted by other beings. This is a tale of how humanity did it themselves, they figured out the tricks and knowledge of how to survive in a hostile world, and they shared that knowledge with one another instead of hoarding it for themselves. I thought about trying to retell the tale in a different settings, but there seemed to be such a natural beauty to the tale that I wanted to keep it true to its original form. Thanks for reading and hoped you enjoyed it!

Image Source: WallPaperUse

Story Source: Myths and Legends of the Great Plains by Katharine Judson

Week 13 Story: The End of Beowulf

 A Tale from the Background Sven stared enviously at the pile of gold in the dragon's lair. Wiglaf had just commanded all of the earls, ...