Amalia The Savage

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So far Amalia The Savage has created 36 entries.

Fairy Tales and Greek Myths

 My friends, Santa Claus saw fit to gift me with the flu this holiday season. Christmas day I was struck down with the mung, and as a result all my holiday plans were canceled. Needless to say, I had plenty of time to catch up on my reading, from Icelandic Sagas to Greek Myths to Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Whether you find this a gift or a curse for your reading pleasure today is another story, but hopefully my ah HA! moment can be your food for thought.  We’re all familiar, of course, with the basic fairy tales. Most of us are probably far more accustomed to the Disney versions, which while they preserve something of the story, sometimes miss a bit of the meat and all of the horror–you’ll never see a Disney movie about “The Maiden Without Hands.” Thankfully, I have a copy of The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, Translated by Jack Zipes (Bantam, 1992), from which to refresh your memories of the important bits for the purposes of this post.I’d like to start with an excerpt from the fairy tale of Brier Rose AKA Sleeping Beauty.  […] the queen gave birth to a girl who was so beautiful that the king was overjoyed and decided to hold a great feast. Not only did he invite his relatives, friends, and acquaintances, but also the wise women, in the hope that they would be generous and kind to his daughter. There were thirteen wise women in his kingdom, but he had only twelve golden plates from which they could eat. Therefore, one of them had to remain home.[…] When eleven of them had offered their gifts, the thirteenth suddenly entered the hall. She wanted to get revenge for not having been invited, and without greeting anyone or looking around, she cried out with a loud voice, “In her fifteenth year the princess shall prick herself with a spindle and fall down dead!” And maybe we should throw in an excerpt from Snow White as well? Just to make it interesting. Same edition.She had a magic mirror and often she stood in front of it, looked at herself, and said:”Mirror, mirror, on the wall,who in this realm is the fairest of all?”Then the mirror would answer:”You, my queen, are the fairest of all.”That reply would make her content, for she knew the mirror always told the truth. […]

The No-Kiss Fest!

 Today, the writing community across the blogosphere gathers in celebration of the No-Kiss by sharing scenes from their works-in-progress of that moment when you think the leading character and his or her love interest are finally going to lock lips… but they don’t.In honor of this UST blogging-palooza, I thought I’d share the most […]

Gift Ideas For The Star Wars Lover

 Looking for something other than the traditional Star Wars holiday ornament from Hallmark? Check out this list for the Star Wars fan in your family.  To my intense dismay, Macy’s seems to have stopped selling the awesome Boba Fett Hoodie, and the Rebel Pilot Hoodie, but you can still pick up a Clone Trooper, […]

By |December 21st, 2009|MyBlog|1 Comment|

A Geeky Norse Mythology Moment

 One of the things I love about Norse Mythology, is that it’s so piecemeal. That seems kind of a weird thing to say, but just stay with me for a minute.What we have of Norse Mythology are remnants passed down through oral tradition, and not put down on paper until after 1100AD (as late as 1200-1300 in some cases), in the Eddas and sagas. We have no written record before this time, and the dates are not exactly during the Viking glory days, but more toward the end of the era. These facts were not the only serious factors which influenced these sagas and stories about the gods as they were finally written.For starters, one of our greatest sources for Norse Mythology was written by Snorri Sturluson (around 1200 AD). He’s attributed with writing the Prose Edda which contains a very coherent account of the Norse gods, the creation of the(ir) world, and its destruction. But Snorri himself is clearly looking at the stories of the gods which he’s transcribing as MYTHS surrounding actual men who may have lived, not as truths of living gods. Not to say that he was wrong, but this context is certainly something that should be taken into account when reading. Snorri’s Christian viewpoint may certainly have corrupted the stories, even if the fact that he was writing about them on the way out, didn’t. This Euhemerization of the gods is not unique just to Snorri’s transcription of the Norse gods, either. Why? Because the year was 1200 Anno Domini and Christianity had become pervasive. The Christian worldview of One True God was impossible to avoid completely. We have to take into account, when reading these sources, that either the writers of the Sagas were influenced by Christianity themselves, as believers, or that in order to justify and preserve the mythology they believed, they had to make it fit inside the Christian world, by making the gods into men, instead of immortals and creators with power in their own right. (And the fact that the gods are sustained only by Golden Apples, and not their own power, could be seen as evidence of this too–Are these Golden Apples stolen power from another God? from THE God?) […]

By |December 9th, 2009|MyBlog|7 Comments|

Impress The Mighty Thor With Your Knowledge of Icelandic! For Free!

 This may come as a surprise, given the recent deluge of Classical content in my posts, but I’m absolutely obsessed with Norse Mythology. Obsessed. Granted, this might have more to do with Thor (and Marvel’s latest takes on his character–Ultimate Thor makes my knees weak!) than it does with the rest of the mythology, but the fact remains that the history, myths, and culture of the Vikings and Norsemen is beyond cool.  Of course, the sources for all this Viking goodness are unfortunately written in a language that is not my first. Sure, I could go pick up translations, but if there is one thing I’ve learned studying Classics, it’s that translations are incredibly variable, and the best answer whenever possible is to read things the way they were written originally! Get as close to the original sources as possible, and have a field day.  My friends and readers, I present you with a gift. Thanks to the internet and what I’m sure is a brilliant marketing scheme to increase tourism to Iceland, you can now learn the language of the Norse Sagas! That’s right! You, too, can learn Icelandic, FOR FREE, online! […]

By |December 2nd, 2009|MyBlog|0 Comments|

The Final Letters from Not-Yet-Of Troy

 Today is the last day to push your wordcount past 50,000 words to join the ranks of NaNoWriMo Winners! A few words of advice before we hit the final letters for the Not-Yet-Of Troy series!1) Double check and make sure your timezone is correct! Because of daylight savings, you might be an hour ahead of yourself if you didn’t correct your timezone after you started! This could mean that instead of having until midnight to verify, you only get until 11pm. Which leads me to my next point–2) Verify EARLY! Do everything in your power to get yourself verified before 11pm local (or earlier if you can swing it!). The Word Counter for the NaNoWriMo site may shave some wordage off your word processor’s count, and you will want time to be able to recoup those numbers before midnight! Also, there is usually a rush to validate at the last minute which slows down the site– don’t let yourself be timed out and lose the win after all your hard work!3) Pat yourself on the back for making it this far! Whether you got to 50K or not, you answered the challenge to write a novel, and that’s something to be proud of. If you didn’t quite make it to 50K this year, you can always try again  next November! And I hear that NaNoWriMo is trying to put together a year round program, too–assuming they make their donation goals. (Previous Letters: Helen to Pollux, Pollux to Helen, Letters from the Kings, Helen to Theseus, Theseus to Helen, Letters Between Theseus and Pirithous, Letters Between Helen and Menelaus.)  Now, the last letters– From Theseus to Helen, and from Helen to Pollux. […]

By |November 30th, 2009|MyBlog|5 Comments|

Letters between Helen and Menelaus, Another Not-Yet-Of Troy Story

Previous Letters: Helen to Pollux, Pollux to Helen, Letters from the Kings, Helen to Theseus, Theseus to Helen, Letters between Theseus and Pirithous.  When I began writing Helen, I was certain that she loved Menelaus. Part of the history and the myth is that Menelaus and Agamemnon spent some time in Sparta/Lacedaemon during their youth, after a usurper took the throne of Mycenae. Tyndareus helped them to reclaim it. Later, Tyndareus marries both his daughters to these Sons of Atreus– Helen to Menelaus, and Clytemnestra to Agamemnon– which made me wonder exactly what kind of relationship Tyndareus had with these men.  Was it just that Agamemnon was so powerful a neighbor? Or could it have been something more? A relationship between Tyndareus and these orphaned boys that was like a father to his sons? And if Tyndareus cared for them, brought them into his home, helped them to reclaim their own city, might not Menelaus and Agamemnon have had relationships with Tyndareus’s children too? That would certainly have an affect on any marriages arranged, and I was certain that Helen must have been relieved, even pleased, to be married to a man who had been a friend and brother to her in her youth, rather than some stranger twice her age who only wanted her for her beauty.Unless of course there was some mitigating factor– like a foreknowledge of what was coming. If Helen knew that marrying Menelaus would result in such a terrible war, how would that affect her relationship to him? And if Tyndareus loved Menelaus as a son, would he listen to the warning Helen brought him? Helen, just a girl, and with only dreams to back up her argument, probably would not have swayed her father if he was determined to make Menelaus his son in marriage as well as friendship.  This is the warning Helen gives Theseus in the earlier letters, telling him that if he wants her as his bride, he must act immediately, and ultimately I believe it is what convinces him to abduct her, though he could not have known who Helen was meant for.But Menelaus knew. And watching Helen become friendly with Theseus, a son of Poseidon, and a great hero, could not have been easy on his ego. Menelaus was not a king, nor could he claim any divine heritage. He was just a man. And in comparison and competition with Theseus, how confident could he really be about his chances? […]

By |November 27th, 2009|MyBlog|2 Comments|

Letters Between Theseus and Pirithous, Another Not-Yet-Of Troy Story

 Previous Letters:Helen to Pollux, Pollux to Helen, Letters from the Kings, Helen to Theseus, Theseus to Helen. Theseus has his own very rich mythology. His own challenges and adventures. He is in many ways the Athenian version of Heracles, right down to his divine heritage and the trials he faces. A parallel hero.  I hadn’t realized at all until I started doing the research that Heracles and Theseus were contemporaries and were known to team up, nevermind that they were also contemporaries (relatively speaking) of Helen.  There’s so little source material for his abduction of Helen (and it varies widely). Just a line here or there that he made off with her, and then her brothers took her back. It’s almost an absentminded recollection. “Oh yeah, well, you know Theseus, always making off with some pretty girl or another, it’s hardly worth noting. And there was no lasting harm.” Of course, that’s the greatest place to start when you want to write fiction– finding something that hasn’t really been explored in great detail, and seeing where it leads. It was the perfect opening!  Neither Theseus nor Heracles made it to the Trojan War, but they almost certainly witnessed the events leading up to that point… Well, witness maybe is too strong a word. Theseus was trapped in the underworld for a while, and Heracles had to go fish him out. Both of them, however, had sons who fought against Troy. So who is this Pirithous? He’s a fellow Demi-god and king. A son of Zeus! By all appearances, he’s one of Theseus’s closest friends. Close enough that when Pirithous proposed a trip to Hades to kidnap Persephone, Theseus had no qualms about helping him out. To repay a similar kindness, perhaps? […]

By |November 25th, 2009|MyBlog|0 Comments|

A Letter from Theseus to Helen, Another Not-Yet-Of Troy Story

 To change things up, I’m starting with the letter today! (previous letters: Helen to Pollux, Pollux to Helen, Letters From the Kings, Helen to Theseus) Lovely Helen,With all my being I struggle between granting you this gift, granting myself this gift, and doing what must be done for the good of my people. What you ask may well provoke a war, and though I confess to wanting you for my own, I would not wish to betray the trust of my people this way.Helen, you are but a child yet. If your father does not heed your warnings, perhaps it is with good reason. Perhaps he has information which you are not privy to? Your brothers, too, are good men. If they believed you to be in the path of harm, nothing would stop them from protecting you with all their strength. I do not know what causes you such anxiety for your kinsmen, but I am keen to listen. While I can not promise to give you what you ask, I would meet with you and hear your concerns. If your reason is sound, I will not dismiss it, Helen. That much I can and will  promise you, whether or not you become my wife.If it is to be done, it is best done in secret. You may trust I will reveal your request to no one, though if your worries are founded on any truth I can present to Tyndareus upon your behalf, I would be happy to do so. Only a fool would refuse to listen to his equal in rank and dignity. Your Servant,Theseus, King of Athens […]

By |November 23rd, 2009|MyBlog|8 Comments|

A Letter from Helen to Theseus, Another Not-Yet-Of Troy Story

 Missed one? In order: Helen to Pollux, Pollux to Helen, Letters from the Kings. In working with the myths surrounding the Trojan War, there are some definite challenges. For starters, no two accounts of Helen’s life and story are the same. This also applies to Theseus, Paris, Menelaus, Agamemnon, and every other major player within the story. The reason for this is that these myths come from an oral tradition, and over time it would have been natural for them to shift and alter slightly between regions. People from Athens would talk Theseus up, because he was one of their founding fathers. People from Sparta might want to portray Helen as stolen, rather than an adulteress, to save her honor. They also might make Paris out as a coward, to emphasize his dishonor. The sources we have available to us today can’t even agree on the reason for the start of the Trojan War. There’s the story of the goddesses, Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite, competing for the title of “Fairest” with Paris as the judge, and at first glance, it seems like the simplest answer. Paris chose Aphrodite, and she gave him Helen as a prize, offending the other two goddesses and causing them to turn against Troy– of course there was the little matter of Helen already being married to Menelaus, and he would have to go get her, but Aphrodite had no problem assisting him with that or making it sound like a good idea.  If you continue reading, there are other forces at work behind the goddesses and their vanity. According to Hesiod and the Cypria Fragments, the entire war was planned by Zeus as a way to destroy the race of demi-gods (children of the gods with mortals) and lighten the earth of men. Now, historically, not long after the rough dates we have for the Trojan War, the Mycenaean empire collapsed. Isn’t it convenient then, that the Greeks had a myth to explain the widespread destruction that cast them back into a dark age?  Personally, I find the contradicting accounts and stories to be exciting and interesting. For my writing purposes, it allows me to sift through the different pieces and put it all together in a unique way. It gives me a lot of freedom to work. Creative license, if you will. Which brings us to today’s letter from Helen to Theseus. […]

By |November 20th, 2009|MyBlog|4 Comments|