A Tag from the Bard
On Wednesday evening, I calculated that the cyclist coming from the left like a bat out of the Land of No Return would either continue straight or slow down as he turned onto the bridge. I was wrong, but the Bard always has an apposite quotation!
So he spoke, and balanced the spear far-shadowed, and threw it,
And struck the sevenfold-ox-hide terrible shield of Aias
In the uttermost bronze, which was the eighth layer upon it,
And the unwearying bronze spearhead shore its way through six folds
But was stopped in the seventh ox-hide.
– Iliad, 7.244-248, tr. Lattimore
At least it is the only accident since the time in 2014 when my wheels got caught in the streetcar tracks … sometimes streetcars, buses, cars, horsecarts, bicycles and pedestrians are too much.
So cyclists should be armoured? I assume that you were wearing a helmet. BMX riders sometimes wear more comprehensive protection.
The “In the uttermost bronze, which was the eighth layer” citation is interesting.
At a local Society for Creative Anachronism event I stopped by a table featuring sewing and other items. For some reason the lady running the table flipped open a photo album and showed me a picture of her wearing a neck to knee mail dress and nothing else. I replied that the photo seemed unusual, “Don’t most armour systems have padding under the armour as the major component of the system?” Obviously made for show, not for practical use.
I guess that is a variant of the classic chainmail bikini! Sounds pinchy to me.
I wear a cycling helmet although many people in Innsbruck do not. Maybe I should try a steel helmet and gauntlets on the mean streets?
There is some debate whether a seven-layer oxhide shield is practical (maybe if not all seven layers cover the whole shield?) but everyone knows that the heroes in the olden days were much bigger and stronger than wimps today.
Aias, aka Ajax the Greater, was supposedly built on a different scale that the other Achaeans and most Trojans.
How adjustable was Bronze age armour?
Would Achilles’ Invulnerable arms and armour have fit a giant such as Aias or would it use God power to adjust to the new owner? Patroclos is also described as being on the same scale as Aias, isn’t he?
Life is not required to imitate Epic Poetry and versions of the end of Aias vary with Oral Retelling and Manual Rewriting of the written versions, but if I were in the situation depicted in one version I would have felt happy for my friend Odysseus, rather than getting in a lethal snit that carried on into Hades.
I have heard Odysseus / Ulysses described as being the first supposedly human super hero, with no magic or deus ex machina to assist him, just the opposite. The speaker described the arrival of Odysseus as being a total disaster wherever he went. The wrath of Poseidon followed him and affected innocent bystanders and his crews. Sort of like having Rambo show up in your community. -)
The legend of Giglamesh started out with a real inspirational city leader (Bilbemes?) and got amplified into a series of legendary exploits. Allusions to it abound in Speculative Fiction, including a Star Trek Next Gen episode. I can’t recall which short story it was, but there was one that came up in a Science Fiction magazine about a protagonist condemned to a never ending life of suffering because of his father’s transgressions against the gods. The setting is clarified near the end, when the protagonist gets revenge on the local ruler “Gil” for earlier tyrannical behaviour.. The last paragraph went something like “Gil was really just looking for a way to live forever. i knew of course, but he never asked.”
in French the word Armée and variations have multiple meanings, including being a synonym for blindée where it translates as armoured in English. Breton Armé is one French way to refer to Concrete that has been reinforced with steel to improve tensile strength. Voiture blindée translates to English as armoured car.
I think there is a Poul Anderson where a time traveller becomes the inspiration for Odin (“The Sorrow of Odin the Goth”?) I think it was Jeff Sypeck in a comment who talked about neo-medievalism and the rise of fantasy which is purely based on other stories written within the last 50 years, without mixing in some reading in Gilgamesh or the Eddas or Judge Dee stories.