Mythology with Erin

Adventures in storytelling

Tag: Week 3 Page 1 of 2

Famous Last Words: A Storm’s a’Bruin

This has been an interesting week, but there’s been a definite improvement in my productivity! The rainy weather this week provided a much needed respite from the blazing summer heat, and I think my brain was able to recover from frying at the FAU football game.

I really enjoyed my reading for class this week! I read a retelling of The Illiad, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I have a translation of it in my bookshelf right now, but I hadn’t gotten around to it. I’ve been pretty interested in the classical epics since I took Latin last year, and while The Illiad and Odyssey are Greek, they still inspired the cultural explosion of that entire area. After doing the reading, I decided to start inhaling Illiad-based media to see different interpretations. I watched Troy on Netflix despite hearing bad things about it. It wasn’t horrible, but it was definitely more dude-movie than literary adaptation. I’m listening to Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles on audiobook right now. I listened to her Circe earlier this year, and it was fabulous, so I expect a lot from this one. My favorite one so far is this hilarious Youtube video, which does a great job summarizing the epic poem:

I enjoyed getting to read peoples’ stories in class this week, and I was actually quite surprised about how good and creative they were! Everyone is doing such a great job, and I’m excited to read even more.

I also enjoyed researching dragons as a potential Storybook project this week, and I learned a lot about different dragon legends. I didn’t think there wasn’t a dragon myth that I hadn’t heard before, but I was very wrong! 

My work in my other classes is going very well so far, and I’m happy to be off to a good start. I do STILL have some textbooks on back order, which is frustrating, but I’m hoping they come in this week and I can stop copying Catullus poems from the Internet to do the reading. We’re reading The Canterbury Tales in my English literature class now and the Middle English gives me a headache, lol. 

The Pride has had a whirlwind of a week because we didn’t touch a football field between the FAU game and Friday evening. It rained constantly. We weren’t able to field a brand new show this week like we wanted to, but we still performed the music to our new show at our pre- and post-game concerts. 

2018 OUDL snareline. Look how happy we are that we didn’t die! From my personal photos.

And the weather was SOOOO much better. It was overcast, misting, and somewhere around 65 degrees all day, so I could actually enjoy the football game instead of fighting off heatstroke. It was exciting to play a storied program like UCLA, and I’m happy to be 2-0. It’s so sad that Rodney Anderson is out for the rest of the season; he deserved a healthy year. Nevertheless, I don’t think we need to give up playoff hopes. If we win out, we’ll be real contenders. The sports analysts are still snubbing us, but that will get better once we get to our tougher games. Meanwhile, next week is at Iowa State, and I don’t have to go! I’ll enjoy watching the game with some of my other friends eating tailgating food.

My goals for this week are to stay on top of my school work and use my free weekend to get ahead in a few classes. Week 3 was a success, but as we get into September, midterms are coming! I want to take them on with minimal stress.

Growth Mindset: MOVE Acronym

Acronyms are a common way to shorten ideas into smaller words. We use them for the names of entities (NFL, FBI) and as mnemonics (like RICE and ROY G. BIV). We can also use acronyms to abbreviate inspirational ideas. Here’s an acronym I created to exemplify an idea of growth mindset:

MOVE acronym created by me on Canva

I created this acronym because I wanted to think of something that could help me remember to MOVE. It resonates me because a strategy that I employed during my freshman year was saying yes to any opportunity I had even a vague interest in doing. It really helped me make friends, learn to be uncomfortable, and realize the things I did and did not like to do. This acronym certainly exemplifies growth mindset because it encourages healthy risk-taking and contemplation of those decisions. It also nods at our agency in creating opportunity for success. We need to do things that allow us to achieve success rather than waiting for those things to fall into our laps. I hope my acronym will inspire others to try new things and to value those opportunities because each can be a great learning experience.

Learning Challenge: Happiness Jar, Part 1

I’ve heard of people keeping a gratitude journal where they write down a few things they are grateful for every day, but I’ve never tried it. This upcoming week, I’m going to start the happiness jar challenge: Every day I will write down something that made me happy and place it in a jar (I will be using a coffee mug).

I plan on writing my note at the end of every day when I’m getting ready for bed. I’ll place the mug on my sink counter so I remember it. I’ll write down my note, fold it up, and place it in mug.

At the end of the week, I’ll pull out the notes, read them, and evaluate how the exercise changed my week. I’m going into this optimistically. I think the happiness jar is going to help me appreciate little, good things that happen even when a day seems bad. I hope it helps me have a more positive attitude every day, and I’d really like to keep it up long-term, if it helps. I also think it’s going to help me get rid of the hundreds of sticky notes I have. 

And now, inspirational pictures!

A quote from one of my favorite children’s books, Seuss’ Oh the Places You’ll Go. Source – Pixabay
This is the kind of positive attitude I hope to develop with my happiness jar! Source – Pxhere
One of my favorite Latin phrases, meaning “While I breathe, I hope.” Words added by me. Sunrise picture source – Pixnio

Featured Image: Live Fearlessly, sunglasses. Source – Pixabay.

Tech Tip: Twitter Lists

I mentioned in last week’s Tech Tip that I looooove folders, and folks we have had a breakthrough. Twitter has folders. Okay, not really; it has lists, but they operate kind of like folders. You can curate a list of Twitter users to create a stream of just those user’s posts. This stops the inevitable confusion and feeling of disorganization when you have your sports, your news, your friends, and your musicians all in the same feed. To try this out, I made a list for one of my favorite Twitter communities: Writing Twitter.

Writing Twitter consists of authors, publishers, editors, agents, librarians, and book lovers who all tweet about–you guessed it–books. I follow a lot of these people, and seeing their amusing jibes about writing is one of the reasons I get on Twitter every day. What better than to give all of my Writing Twitter a place of its own?

Now that I know I can put people on the list without following them, I’m going to add quite a few more authors. I plan on making a sports list so I can check up on OU football without have three million sports Tweets on my regular feed. I think lists are a great tool to help people use Twitter in a more focused and manageable way.

Image 1: Backlit keyboard. Source – Pixabay.

Image 2: Twitter Bird Logo. Source – Pixabay.

Wikipedia Trails: From Fafnir to Runestone

I decided to dive down this Wikipedia rabbit hole after coming across a mythological character that I have heard several times in the past week but know nothing about. Let’s see where it takes us!

Starting point:

We’ve been reading Beowulf in one of my other classes, and I read an article that mentioned that J.R.R. Tolkien said there were only two true dragons in mythology: the dragon of Beowulf and Fafnir. I had never heard of Fafnir before. Later, I was watching the Crash Course Dragons video, and heard Fafnir mentioned again. As a lover of dragons, I knew I had to look it up.

Fafnir

Fafnir is a character from Norse mythology. He is one of the three sons of the dwarf Hreidmar. When some Aesir (Norse gods) kill Otr, one of the sons, the dwarf family demands they pay his weight in gold. However, they make the mistake of sending Loki to gather it, and Loki brings back cursed gold. Because of the curse, Fafnir becomes uncontrollably greedy. He kills his father, steals the gold, and runs away to hoard the gold. Because of this, he turns into a greedy, poison-breathing dragon. 

Andvaranaut

This is a legendary ring that Loki gives to the dwarves with the cursed gold. It has also been cursed and said to bring death and misery to whoever owns it. It is what causes Fafnir to turn into a dragon. Obviously enough, Andvaranaut inspired the One Ring in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, just like Beowulf’s dragon inspired Smaug in The Hobbit.

Sigurd

Sigurd is a hero from Germanic mythology. He kills Fafnir, takes Andvaranaut, the ring, and gives it to his wife. With the ring in their possession, misfortune finds them, and an evil queen makes Sigurd forget his wife so he will marry her daughter. Angry, Sigurd’s original wife kills him for cheating. This is only one version of the story because there are several different manuscripts, documents, and sources for Sigurd’s story from Germanic areas, Sweden, Scandinavia, and even Iceland. Sigurd is also known as Siegfried.

Runestone

These are large rocks found all over Scandinavia that were erected by the Vikings and other Germanic groups. They were often used to memorialize dead men. They have inscriptions that tell who erected the stone, for whom, and how they died. Some of them also have images or patterns on them that depict either crosses or scenes from Norse mythology. Sigurd is a common hero featured on the stones.

Image 1: Sigurd examining his newly forged sword by Johannes Gehrts. Source – Wikipedia

Image 2: A runestone in Lingsburg. Source – Wikipedia

Image 3: Fafner guarding his hoard. An illustration from Wagner’s Siegfried opera. Source – Wikipedia

Image 4: A runestone depicting Odin being eaten by Fenrir, the wolf of the apocalypse. Source – Wikipedia.

Reading Notes: Monsters, Horses, and Dragons

Monsters:

Often act as a representation of human flaws, like a foil to humanity
Monsters are evil, and heroes are good. Heroes defeat the monsters so good prevails.

Wendigo Story from Canada:
Cannibalism represents the ultimate transgression against mankind.
The Wendigo begins as a human, showing that any man or woman can succumb to evil and become a “monster.”
Rotting Log, the hero, needs divine help to defeat the monster, which is often true of many monster stories, where heroes get special weapons or gods intervene.
We learned about an extremely similar legend in my Native American music class that spawned a tribal ritual in which young men must face their “inner Wendigo” and overcome it to be inducted into society.

Horses:

Horses are present in the myths of most major cultures.
In Egyptian myth, they are seen as the ultimate battle companions because of their swiftness and loyalty.

Horses in myth can represent good and evil.
Greek Centaurs usually represent lust and excess and cause trouble for humans.
Pegasus, though, acts as a hero’s companion, helping to overcome and slay monsters. He’s present in both Perseus’ and Bellerophon’s stories and becomes a legendary character in all of Greek mythology. Even Zeus covets Pegasus.

Dragons:

Dragons are monsters derived from snakes, notably the serpent from the garden of evil. Thus, in most Judeo-Christian cultures, they are representations of evil.

European Dragons:
Welsh red dragon is representative of the nation of Wales and is featured in their national epic. St. George and the Dragon is a popular story that represents Christ overcoming evil.
Usually aligned with fire (like hell).
Fafnir is a legendary dragon who started as a dwarf that became a dragon and guarded hoards of gold. Similarly, the dragon in Beowulf had a great hoard of gold. In these stories, dragons also represent greed.

Asian Dragons: 
Unlike European dragons, they’re much more benevolent. They’re aligned with rain and water, and they have divine power and energy. They help heroes.
They’re a combination of many different creatures, like the head of a bull, claws of an eagle, paws of a tiger, and horns of a stag.
In an Asian creation myth, the Python becomes a dragon and aids in the creation of mankind.
Their enemy is the tiger.
In order to get rain during a drought, people would attempt to summon dragons.

Bibliography:
Crash Course Myth: Monsters, Horses, and Dragons. Web source.

Image 1: Athena (Minerva) captures and tames Pegasus. Source – Wikipedia.

Image 2: An Etruscan statue of the Greek monster, the Chimera of Arezzo from around 400 B.C. Source – Wikipedia.

Feedback Strategies: Giving

Feedback is an integral part of the creative process, but unfortunately, it can be one of the hardest. Sometimes, you don’t know what to say to help a person improve, and other times, it can be uncomfortable to blow holes in their entire piece of work. I was always taught to give a feedback sandwich (two pieces of praise with the critique buried in the middle) and I’m surprised to read in my two articles that the technique isn’t very effective. Now I’m curious about how to most easily and effectively convey constructive criticism.

The article “Try Feedforward Instead of Feedback” suggests that instead of critiquing an action or presentation that has already passed, we should give feedback that can be applied to the future. I like this idea a lot because it allows us to move beyond mistakes. There’s no use in wallowing about a bad blog post already published when energy is better spent working on new ones. I also like that the article acknowledges that feedback is almost always taken personally; it can’t be avoided. However, by giving specific advice that is focused on the future, it can be more easy to swallow for the recipient. 

In “How to Give Feedback Without Sounding Like a Jerk,” the author suggests throwing the feedback sandwich out the window because it is disingenuous and cheap. He also says feedback is best received as a dialogue, not a one-sided litany of screw-ups. I like this format because it gives the recipient a chance to respond to the feedback, whether they agree with it or need to defend or explain their prior actions. My favorite part of this article is the author’s suggested opening to a feedback session: “I’m giving you these comments because I have high expectations and I know you can reach them.” I like this phrasing because it is highly respectful of the recipient. It doesn’t sound like you’ve made up some compliment to give to soften the blow. It’s a very mature way of starting to give feedback. Our band director often uses phrases like these before giving instructions or feedback, so maybe it is no coincidence that I consider him one of the greatest leaders I’ve met.

I enjoy giving feedback with other writers because it’s something I’m good at. I’m adept at catching typical mechanical and usage flaws, and I have a knack for rewording confusing phrases and conveying ideas. I took an introductory creative writing class last year, which was filled with both experienced writers and newcomers. In that class, I learned that it is important to be patient as the feedback giver. It can be frustrating to read a story by someone with less experience, but it’s not constructive to tear the piece to shreds. Instead, you must focus on a few criticisms at a time, and you must deliver them in an understanding, forward-focused way.

Despite the death of the feedback sandwich, I think it’s vital for writing feedback to include some acknowledgement of things done well. The praise should never be disingenuous, and it should be specific. When faced with looming revisions, it’s important to know the things that went right in a draft. Did the characters have chemistry? Was that one joke actually funny? Should I keep that experimental sentence? These are things that writers want to know, so they can salvage the good things before the whole draft goes in the bin.

Some of my favorite things to receive in feedback are questions. They help work out confusing events or guide me down new paths. They point out things I may have forgotten to include, and can help me see what’s going on in the reader’s head. This semester, I want to try to ask a few questions about every story that I give feedback on, and I hope I get some good questions in return!

Image: Red editing pen. Source – Pixabay

Topic Research: Dragons

Dragons are my favorite mythological beasts, and there are hundreds of ways to use them in stories. Today I’ve researched dragon stories more to see if I’d like to do my Storybook on them. I was impressed by all of the options I found!

I started by looking at this Storybook: A Story of Blood and Fire. It was a unique and complex story that took the side of a shapeshifting dragon. I loved how the author inserted Spotify links on each page with a song to go with each chapter. I always connect stories to music, so I may decide to do something similar for my project.

The first story used in the Blood and Fire storybook was The Celtic Dragon Myth. I like that this myth uses other mythological creatures in addition to the dragon. It’s long, and I like the hero. I also like its use of color as a feature of its storytelling, and I may want to make color important in my story, too.

The second story that I came across was The Dragon and the Prince, which is a Slavic story. I like that it features a quest, and it is actually very similar to the Celtic Dragon Myth. One of my favorite tropes in this myth is that the hero-prince disguises himself as a shepherd. I may want to use a disguise of some kind in my story.

I had many books of illustrated fairy tales when I was a child, and one of my favorites contained Saint George and the Dragon. I would love to incorporate this classic legend into my Storybook. A kingdom is plagued by a dragon who eats women. George, a knight, saves the king’s daughter from being eaten by killing the dragon. Here is the full story, which begins on page 120: The English Fairy Book. Here is an interesting commentary/background for the story: Fictitious and Symbolic Creatures in Art (In fact this entire book has a large section dedicated to dragons). I would really like to see this story with a shift in character roles. What if the princess saved the dragon from the knight? 

I’ve always been interested in the Asian version of dragons, too, so I found a story that would allow me to incorporate some Eastern dragon elements into my own project. In this “Boy Blue” story from China, a herbalist finds the thunder-dragon and gets the Red Cloud herb, which is imbued with the dragon’s essence. He uses the flower to save the emperor’s daughter from illness. I like the idea that the dragons can imbue their essence into other items or avatars, and I think the motivation of searching for a special plant or item from a dragon would be a great start to a story. This story can be found here on pages 80-82: Myths of China and Japan.

Image 1: Statue of male and female dragons holding an egg in Varna, Bulgaria. Source – Wikipedia

Image 2: Saint George and the Dragon by Raphael. Source – Wikipedia

Image 3: Asian dragon painting. Source – Pixabay

Week 3 Story: The Ballad of Hector

Alas! Woe to Prince Hector,
Honored Trojan warrior,
Cursed by the gods to be a pawn
To fight and die despite his brawn.
In Olympus, cruel Athena grinned
As Hector awaited the fight to begin.
Andromache and Priam in Troy cried
And immortal Apollo seethed inside.
Because their champion would fall
To the best Greek warrior of them all.
Across the field, Achilles came,
That vengeful, warrior, eyes aflame,
His brand new armor gleaming gold
Forged and hammered by the crippled-god.
Alas, Hector! Woe to Troy!

Before the gates of Troy, honorable Hector waited;.
Sure-footed Achilles prowled toward the foe he hated.
If only the prince had not slain dear Patroclus.
Though the fault belonged to that young Greek’s hubris.
It was Apollo’s hand that sent him to death.
Yet Hector would pay with his final breath

Before Achilles could start the fight,
Poor Hector was overcome by fright.
He fled his death with fast feet
But Achilles’s were even more fleet.
Thrice they ran ’round the walls of Troy
Following the paths Hector ran when he was boy.
Hector’s flight was futile as Achilles pursued.
His god-blessed speed Hector could not elude.

Finally Hector, too young, accepted his fate.
He came to a stop outside Troy’s gate.
He decided to stand to retain his honor
To fight for his city, his son, his father.
Hector turned to face his Greek enemy,
Who would have been friend but for Paris’ folly.
With great strength of arm, he hurled his spear,
And the Trojans at the wall let out a cheer.
His aim was true, and Achilles would have been killed
But his god-wrought plate was made with great skill.
It turned the iron tip aside, and unharmed Achilles began to draw near.
Curse the intervention of the gods and that magical gear!
Yesterday Hector and the Trojans were favored by Zeus.
Now he sides with the Greeks, and there’s no hope for a truce.

Unlucky Hector of Troy cried out across the plain,
And everyone heard the prince’s last strain.
Priam of the Trojans and the Greek kings
Were moved and quaked in their very heartstrings:
“Woe to me, Hector, defeated and cursed!
If only the days could still be reversed.
Today I shall die, my life taken for a mistake
Caused by a god’s dishonorable prank.
Let no one remember that I ran from my doom
But that I went with courage to my tomb!
Let the legends tell of the poor Hector’s fall,
And of mighty Troy, greatest city of all!”
Then he let loose a dreadful roar
That shook Mount Olympus to its core.
Hector charged Achilles with sword-arm raised
Like the talon of a diving hawk, the blade blazed.
The prince fought with keenness and zeal
But Achilles met him steel for steel.
The Greek was bolstered by god-strength and magic,
Making Hector’s mortal strength pale and tragic.

For hours through the day, the matched men sparred,
Neither finding holes in the other’s guard.
Even the gods on Olympus high
Respected brave Hector, doomed to die.
Finally Achilles overcame his cursed foe
Stabbing Hector’s soft neck with a cheap blow.
For the prince’s armor once belonged to him
And the Greek knew its flaw where shoulder met limb.
The plate had been bent by a hammer’s strike
Leaving a gap wide enough to wedge in a spike

Hector sunk to his knees, life-blood gushing.
He spoke quickly, as he could see the boatman rushing.
“Strong Achilles, I beg you with my last breath,
Give my body to my father upon my death.
Tomorrow or the next day the Greeks shall prevail,
So let my funeral be Troy’s final farewell.
For today I have fought with true honor and valor.
Even the gods who have cursed me mourn my pallor.”
And Achilles replied, heart hardened by grief,
For young Patroclus, taken as by a thief,
“You are no better than a fatted swine
And deserve no honored funeral shrine.
Priam shall have no ransom for you.
I’d rather give your body to the dogs to chew.”

And, filled with prophecy in his final minute,
Hector spoke with the last of his spirit.
“With those words you have sealed your fate.
You may have returned from this war rich and great,
But to your enemies you are merciless.
This war shall end, but with your death.
Yes, Troy’s sponsor Apollo will have his revenge.
As you kill me for Patroclus, my Paris will avenge.
The fickle gods will finally turn on you,
And despise your strength, there’s naught you can do.”
And with these words, Prince Hector died
And his soul departed for its last boat ride.
Alas for poor Hector, great prince, great man! 
Mourn for him, and curse the gods’ cruel plan.
May Troy live on in this weary tome,
That fallen city, the mother of Rome.

Author’s Note:
This story is based on a specific episode from Homer’s The Illiad in which Achilles, the Greek hero, kills the Trojan prince and commander, Hector. The Illiad, in short, is about the Trojan War, which was started because Paris of Troy kidnapped (or ran off with) Helen, who was the wife of a Greek king. Thus, the Greeks attack Troy with every intention of burning it to the ground. Achilles is, generally, the protagonist of The Illiad, but I was particularly taken with his rival, Prince Hector, who seemed to be to be the better man and undeserving of his fate. In the original text, the reader sees that Hector is a great leader, a loving husband and father, and an honorable man. On the other hand, Achilles seems prone to anger and pride. Unfortunately, Hector kills Patroclus, who is Achilles’ most dear friend. This is somewhat of a mistake because Patroclus was dressed in the armor of Achilles, and then Apollo hurt Patroclus so he could be killed. However, Achilles does not see it as such and vows to kill Hector for the murder. At this point, Zeus, who has been favoring Troy, decides to let Achilles kill Hector, which is why in my story, Hector feels so betrayed by the gods. I did not change the story very much, aside from removing a few details and adding others, but I wanted to try relaying the story as an epic poem, which is what The Illiad was written as, though we often retell it in prose. I really enjoyed writing it like this because it was a different challenge than writing prose, and I feel it does a good job of capturing the tragedy of Hector’s death. I learned that the traditional meter of epic poems, dactylic hexameter, does not work well in English. Therefore, I wrote it in heroic couplets, which much Greek and Roman epic poetry is translated to for English-speaking audiences. It was fun working with this rhyming dictionary website (Rhyme Zone) to work the story into rhyme!

Bibliography:

“The Slaying of Hector” from The Illiad retold by Alfred J. Church. Web source.

Image: Achilles slays Hector by Peter Paul Rubens. Source – Wikipedia.

Reading Notes: Homer’s Illiad, Part B

The Rousing of Achilles:

I really like how both sides of the battle are well fleshed out. It’s not just good vs. bad; there’s actual complicated conflict. 
I sympathize with Hector because he seems like a good man who loves his family, and he is a good prince who fights with his people.
I also sympathize with Achilles because he was stuck helping Agamemnon, and he just lost his best friend.

Hector putting on Achilles’s armor after killing Patroclus is the ultimate disrespect.

What makes the immortal horses so important? It’s interesting that they’ve been anthropomorphized and given human emotions.

Revenge as character motivation; Achilles’s only reason to fight is to avenge Patroclus.

“…for the gods give victory now to one man and now to another.” The fickleness of the interfering gods seems to be a major theme of this epic. It makes Hector angry and fearful for his safety, and ultimately it leads to his death.

The Slaying of Hector:

Achilles has god-forged armor. Often heroes have special items that give them an advantage.

The gods vs. men conflict is very strong as Achilles confronts Apollo about his meddling.

“And his armour shone upon him as bright as Orion, which men call also the Dog, shines in the autumn, when the vintage is gathered, an evil light, bringing fevers to men.” –A long but very cool, tone-setting sentence. Achilles is definitely a very imposing warrior in this scene.

Both Patroclus and Hector died because gods sabotaged their battles. 

I feel really bad for Andromache and Hector’s son, especially since Hector’s body is disgraced so severely by Achilles.

The Ransoming of Hector:

Greek God: Hermes (Wikipedia)
Messenger god
Once again, actively interfering in human affairs.
Uses shapeshifting to help guide Priam to Achilles

The importance of a proper burial is an interesting aspect of the end of this story. It definitely illustrates how myths often portray cultural values of their tellers.

This seems like a strange place to end an epic story. The war with Troy is unresolved, and so is Achilles’s arc. Why did Homer decide to end here?

Bibliography:

The Illiad retold by Alfred J. Church (1907). Web source.

Image: Triumph of Achilles from the Achilleion in Corfu, Greece. By Franz Matsch. Source – Wikipedia

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