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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: February ::
Re: Early Myth
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0241  Friday, 12 February 1999.

[1]     From:   Maria Concolato <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Feb 1999 16:08:51 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0208 Q: Early Myth

[2]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Feb 1999 14:58:30 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0215 Re: Early Myth

[3]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Feb 1999 15:06:22 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0234 Re: Early Myth

[4]     From:   Timothy Peterson <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Feb 1999 08:26:43 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0234 Re: Early Myth

[5]     From:   Carol Barton <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Feb 1999 12:52:24 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0234 Re: Early Myth

[6]     From:   Armando Guerra <
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        Date:   Wed, 10 Feb 1999 18:54:07 -5000
        Subj:   Early Myth

[7]     From:   Laura Fargas <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Feb 1999 17:02:21 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0228 Re: Early Myth


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Maria Concolato <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 Feb 1999 16:08:51 +0100
Subject: 10.0208 Q: Early Myth
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0208 Q: Early Myth

Considering the various answers, I dare add mine too. The first thing
that came to my mind was the story of St Christopher. It is rather
different, but one never knows with one's memory.Here it is from Jacobus
de Voragine, "The Golden Legend", tr. by W.G.Ryan (Princeton U.P., 1993,
II, p.12):

"Many days later he [St Christopher] was resting in his shelter when he
heard a child's voice calling him: "Christopher, come out and carry me
across !"[...] The third time he responded to the same call and found a
child standing on the riverbank. The child begged him to carry him
across the river, and Christopher lifted him to his shoulders, grasped
his great staff, and strode into the water. Bit little by little the
water grew rougher and the child became as heavy as lead: the farther he
went, the higher rose the waves, and the weight of the child pressed
down upon his shoulders so crushingly that he was in dire distress. He
feared that he was about to founder, but at last he reached the other
bank....".. Christopher belongs to III century (?).There is a vast
bibliography on the subject. However, there is no old man. Best
greetings Maria Concolato

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 Feb 1999 14:58:30 -0000
Subject: 10.0215 Re: Early Myth
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0215 Re: Early Myth

>Are you thinking of the story of Robin Hood and Friar Tuck
>
>Kristine Batey

I checked this out, and the friar in the ballad isn't Friar Tuck but
another one-the (unnamed) friar of Fountains Abbey-see "Robin Hood and
the Curtal Friar" (Childe, no 123).

I think there may also be some Zen teaching stories that involve monks
and being carried across rivers.  The only one I can half-remember
off-hand runs roughly as follows:

Two monks came to a river, where a rather pretty young woman was waiting
to cross.

One of the monks, much to the disapproval of the other, packed her up,
put her on his shoulders, and carried her across.  On the other side,
the monk put her down, and she went one way, he and his companion
another.

After some considerable time of walking and brooding, the second monk
said to his companion, "Do you really think you should have done that?"

"Heavens to Betsy!", said the other, "+I+ put her down hours ago."

Robin Hamilton

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 Feb 1999 15:06:22 -0000
Subject: 10.0234 Re: Early Myth
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0234 Re: Early Myth

>Yes, it was Antaeus who wrestled Hercules, not Proteus. Proteus was a
>sea god who could change his shape at will, and apparently it was
>Menelaus with whom he had a wrestling bout, though my source isn't
>in-depth enough to resolve whether it included the god's refusal to let
>the hero go. Sorry for the mistake.
>
>Stephanie Hughes

Further to ballads and fights involving protean shapechangers, there's
"The Two Magicians" (Childe, no. 44), which draws on (according to
Childe) widespread continental analogues.  The male magician (a
coal-black smith) pursues the lady.  A typical stanza (and the only one
involving water) runs as follows:

She turnd hersell into an eel,
   To swim into yon burn
And he became a speckled trout,
   to gie the eel a turn ...

The ballads concludes as you might expect.

Robin Hamilton

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Timothy Peterson <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 Feb 1999 08:26:43 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 10.0234 Re: Early Myth
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0234 Re: Early Myth

One more crossing myth, as long as people still seem interested:  As I
remember it, Nat King Cole's "Straighten Up and Fly Right" is a musical
version of an old African myth.  The lyrics, from
http://fangz.com/~fingers/lyrics/stratnup.txt :

A buzzard took a monkey for a ride in the air
The monkey thought everything was on the square
The buzzard tried to throw that monkey off his back
But the monkey grabbed his neck and said "Hey, Listen Jack"

Straighten up and fly right . . . [etc.]
Cool down Daddy don't you blow your top

The buzzard told the monkey "You're choking me
Release your hold and I'll set you free"
The monkey looked the buzzard right dead in the eye
And said "You're story's so touching, but it sounds like a lie"

Straighten up and fly right . . .
Cool down Daddy don't you blow your top

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Barton <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 Feb 1999 12:52:24 EST
Subject: 10.0234 Re: Early Myth
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0234 Re: Early Myth

>Yes, it was Antaeus who wrestled Hercules, not Proteus. Proteus was a
>sea god who could change his shape at will, and apparently it was
>Menelaus with whom he had a wrestling bout, though my source isn't
>in-depth enough to resolve whether it included the god's refusal to let
>the hero go. Sorry for the mistake.

I think it was Odysseus who was to wrestle Proteus into submission, to
force him to return to his (prototypical?) shape.

Carol Barton

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Armando Guerra <
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Date:           Wed, 10 Feb 1999 18:54:07 -5000
Subject:        Early Myth

Hellen,

I think the myth you're looking for is Proteus, but I can't remember the
other character.

There is also -and this is what came first to my mind- the story of
Sindbad the Sailor, in the Arabian Nights, who in one his voyages
shipwrecked in an island where an old man, very gentle looking, asked
him to carry him on his back or shoulders to reach some fruits. The
result was a nightmare for Sindbad. It has been years since I read it,
but I could tell you that it impressed me very much.

Best,
Armando Guerra
School of Foreign Languages
University of Havana

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Laura Fargas <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 Feb 1999 17:02:21 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 10.0228 Re: Early Myth
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0228 Re: Early Myth

Larry Weiss <
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>There  are a lot of recurrent themes and
>situations in mythology (cf. the recent thread re camels and needles'
>eyes).

From a long-ago study (1970's) of comparative mythology and folklore, I
recall that a scholar named Eirik Vandvik was attempting to construct a
kind of Dewey decimal system for cross-referencing myth motifs from all
cultures.  It was much more detailed, though less fun to read, than the
cross-cultural mythographies by critics such as Levi-Strauss or popular
works by Robert Graves and Joseph Campbell.  Motifs such as wrestling
the earth-giant repeated in a number of cultures, and Vandvik was
cataloguing variant details.

Vandvik's goal, as I recall, was to attempt to map whether such stories
appeared spontaneously around the world, or could be traced in a
diaspora from a specific culture of origin-I think he was a proponent of
a diaspora theory. At the time, only a precis of his work, about 80-100
pages, had yet been translated into English from its original
Scandinavian tongue (sorry, I don't recall which), and if he'd been
translated into French or German, Berkeley's Doe Library didn't have the
books (which led me to assume he hadn't been).  Anyway, he might serve
as a good jumping-off point for research on the Hercules/Antaeus legend.

Laura Fargas
 

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