Monday, November 29, 2010

Caedmon's Hymn

Caedmon’s Hymn
Caedmon is considered the first English poet and Caedmon’s hymn marks the first major move from orallity to text. The hymn must have been very well known orally for it to be remembered, and it was deemed important and beautiful enough to want to write it down. It was written in a pagan society but Caedmons hymn is a hymn not a poem and by definition has religious connotations. It takes the form of a ‘dream vision narrative’ Caedmon had a dream and was visited by a religious figure, presumably God or an angel, from then onwards he was able to sing beautifully about his experience while spreading the message of God, to a chiefly pagan society. As it was an oral society the hymn was remembered simply by  memorizing  it and more than likely repeating it themselves at a later stage. For this reason the hymn contains a lot of alliteration and repetition. Alliteration was used a mnemonic device to help people remember the hymn. Repetition was used to ensure the basic message of the hymn would be remembered, and so that it was clear what specific point the author was trying to get across. In Caedmon’s hymn there are seven different epitaphs used for god, this shows the literary skill and variation present in medieval times, whereas in today’s written world that would be considered unimaginative and boring. The hymn is contained in Bede’s ecclesiastical  history with the old English text at the bottom almost as an afterthought , the main focus of Bede is a latin version of Caedmon’s hymn. Caedmon’s hymn also encouraged the written use of the vernacular, meaning more people would be able to interpret it.

Nu scylun hergan hefaenricaes uard
  metudæs maecti end his modgidanc
  uerc uuldurfadur sue he uundra gihuaes
  eci dryctin or astelidæ
  he aerist scop aelda barnum
  heben til hrofe haleg scepen.
  tha middungeard moncynnæs uard
  eci dryctin æfter tiadæ
  firum foldu frea allmectigprimo cantauit Cædmon istud carmen.

  Nu scilun herga hefenricæs uard
  metudæs mehti and his modgithanc
  uerc uuldurfadur sue he uundra gihuæs
  eci dryctin or astelidæ.
  he ærist scop ældu barnum
  hefen to hrofæ halig sceppend
  tha middingard moncynn&ealig;s uard
  eci dryctin æfter tiadæ
  firum foldu frea allmehtig


 Now let me praise the keeper of Heaven's kingdom,
 The might of the Creator, and his thought,
 The work of the Father of glory, how each of wonders
 The Eternal Lord established in the beginning.
 He first created for the sons of men
 Heaven as a roof, the holy Creator,
 Then Middle-earth the keeper of mankind,
 The Eternal Lord, afterwards made,
 The earth for men, the Almighty Lord.

Blogs and Blogging

Aimee Morrison article.

                                The first thing you will notice about Aimee Morrisons article “Blogs and Blogging” is that it is a really big block of writing, broken sporadically by sub headings. You are immediately filled with those negative feelings associated with having to do something unpleasant, and it runs the risk of being labelled boring before you even begin to read; but once I did begin I was pleasantly surprised by the fact i was reading a lot without noticing because it was interesting. It had many useful and trivial facts about blogging that were both surprising and informative.
                                It offered a definition of the word ‘blog’ which is surprisingly hard to define as succinctly as she did, but while these facts were amusing and interesting to read to begin with, it very quickly turned to tedious reading. The article seems to have every piece of information possible about blogs and you are left unsure of the angle the author is taking other than to provide reams of random information about blogging; but the random information is quite informative and well researched. In fact some of her statistics are almost unbelievable, and really prove how popular blogging has become in such a short space of time. Blogging is fast becoming a well known and well used information outlet and many media outlets scholarly institutions are using blogs aswell. Blogs are the perfect example of how textual transmission is developing. Her paragraphs on the genres of blogging are eye opening in that everything she is saying seems quite obvious but you never would have thought of it yourself. It is a bit complicated if you are a first time blogger and are just looking for some general information as there is the possibility of getting lost in the information, but perfect if you looking for a more in depth analysis of blogging.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The 13th warrior

The 13th warrrior

                         The first thing that strikes you about The 13th Warrior is its parallels with Beowulf and Ibn Fablan’s risala. Michael Chrichton intermingles the two to make a new exciting story, while adding his own contemporary touches. Much of the basic plot comes from Beowulf while many traditions and customs are taken from the Risala.
                             The main plot points come from the Beowulf story, as I believe it was Chrichtons intention to rework the story of Beowulf. The 13th Warrior opens with a dying king and ends with a dying king; similarly Beowulf opens and closes with the funerals of its kings. It seems representative of the circularity of life. The funeral of a king is treated with great reverence and respect in The 13th Warrior, Ibn Fablan’s Risala, and Beowulf.
                          The 13th Warrior follows very closely the description of a king’s burial from the Risala, with the king being burned on a boat along with his slave girl, although it leaves out the grotesque way in which she is actually killed in the Risala. The slave girl is lifted into the air and repeats a verse about seeing her fellow brethren and wanting to join them. This is also repeated at the end of The 13th Warrior but it has the effect of being a war chant and seems to instil the men with courage rather than the sadness you would associate with a funeral rite, it has morphed into something else entirely. This is a link to the chant in The 13th Warrior, used as a war chant.

Buliwyf: 'Lo, there do I see my father. 'Lo, there do I see...
Herger the Joyous: My mother, and my sisters, and my brothers.
Buliwyf: 'Lo, there do I see...
Herger the Joyous: The line of my people...
Edgtho the Silent: Back to the beginning.
Weath the Musician: 'Lo, they do call to me.
Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan: They bid me take my place among them.
Buliwyf: Iin the halls of Valhalla...
Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan: Where the brave...
Herger the Joyous: May live... ``
Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan: ...forever.

                                 The idea of a monster coming when it can not be seen properly is common between Beowulf and The 13th Warrior, at night in Beowulf and in the fog in The 13th Warrior, it brings greater fear to the men, as many fear what they don’t  know. There are also three big fights in The 13th Warrior, each of them reminiscent of a fight in

                            Beowulf, but while there are supernatural elements in Beowulf there are none in The 13th Warrior. This is encouraging for the men, for when Ibn Fablan realises the ‘bears’ are just men he is relieved as men are defeatable. Beowulf’s fight with the dragon is
incorporated but with a twist, instead of a dragon, there are hundreds of the enemy tribe holding flaming torches and they are depicted as a fire breathing serpent. The evil tormentor in the story of The 13th Warrior also has a mother that needs to be defeated, like grendels mother in Beowulf.     
                          Characters and character names in The 13th Warrior are very similar to those in Beowulf. While the central character is that of Ibn Fablan, he is intermixed with a range of characters based on those from Beowulf. Such as the kings name being Rothgar in the 13th warrior and Hrothgar in Beowulf. The character of Unferth is also represented in the form of Wigilaf, both have murdered there brothers. Most obviously the leader of the tribe Bulwyf can be compared to Beowulf, but while Beowulf was a man of superhuman strength, Bulwyf is entirely mortal. Both characters were extremely brave and die in battle as kings.
                         As we can see from the similarities in the funeral procession, there are many customs that have been taken directly from the Risala, one being the way in which the tribe wash and spit into the same basin of water, and this is then repeated by every member of the group. A custom from Beowulf that can be seen in The 13th Warrior is that of paying a blood price for someone you have killed, while this is taken very seriously in Beowulf it is almost comical in the 13th warrior in the easy way in which it is handed over. Paying a blood price is not in any way a deterrent to killing someone in The 13th Warrior.