In Spenser’s The Faerie Queene Book III Canto vi, Venus searches for her lost son, the winged god of love, who has flitted off whilst left unattended. She looks everywhere and fails to find her son but learns of the destruction he’s left in his wake:
First she him sought in Court, where most he vsed
Whylome to haunt, but there she found him not;
But many there she found, which sore accused
His falsehood, and with foule infamous blot
His cruell deedes and wicked wyles did spot:
Ladies and Lords she euery where mote heare
Complayning, how with his empoysned shot
Their wofull harts he wounded had whyleare,
And so had left them languishing twixt hope and feare.
She then the Citties sought from gate to gate,
And euery one did aske, did he him see;
And euery one her answerd, that too late
He had him seene, and felt the crueltie
Of his sharpe darts and whot artillerie;
And euery one threw forth reproches rife
Of his mischieuous deedes, and said, that hee
Was the disturber of all ciuill life,
The enimy of peace, and author of all strife.
Then in the countrey she abroad him sought,
And in the rurall cottages inquired,
Where also many plaints to her were brought,
How he their heedlesse harts with loue had fyred,
And his false venim through their veines inspyred;
And eke the gentle shepheard swaynes, which sat
Keeping their fleecie flockes, as they were hyred,
She sweetly heard complaine, both how and what
Her sonne had to them doen; yet she did smile thereat.
I guess the lesson to be learned is that you can’t run from that little bastard’s poisonous arrows, no matter where you may go. And this isn’t always a good thing.
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- Sarah: Can you guys tell me something about free will that you learned from Snooki?
- Jay: Killer whales mate for life.
- Sarah: What?
- Jay: Killer whales mate for life. Sometimes with little boys.
- Katie: Wait. Was that a statement, or an answer?
- Jay: An answer. To Sarah's question.
- Katie: Ok, wait...Are you talking about Free Willy?
- Jay: Yes...
- Katie: Ok, well Sarah's talking about Snooki.
- Jay: I know! Something I learned about Free Willy from Snooki!
- Katie: Free will, Jay.
Hey, Tumblr. Forgot you were there.
Most of our conceptions of the middle ages are actually reconceptualizations of it by Early Modern writers. I say Early Modern instead of Renaissance because if I don’t my Spenser/Milton professor’s spidey senses will tingle and he’ll come knocking on my door to inform me that “Renaissance” is a misnomer. After which, of course, the Medieval professor I T.A.d for will come swooping in behind him to explain that “Early Modern” is also a misnomer, and implies that the middle ages were backwards, which they most definitely weren’t. THEN of course Chaucer himself will drag his weary bones from his grave at Westminster Abbey to chide me. “Middle of what, exactly?” He’ll ask snidely. I’ll giggle and ask him to make a pun on the word “cunt,” and he’ll roll his eyes at me.
I’m getting lost. Point is, no matter what you call the Middle/Medieval/Early Modern/Renaissance period, you’re offending somebody. We have yet to come up with terminology that makes everybody happy. Nevermind the fact that I’m only really talking about England here, discounting the varied ways in which we could consider the rest of Europe’s early history.
No, that’s not the point. Still lost. The point really is that anything you think you know about medieval England probably comes from Early Moder English writers. Take, for example, The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser. Knights, damsels in distress, dwarves, fierce dragons, sword fights, Merlin…even Mallory’s quintessential Mort d’Arthur straddles that timeline. The middle ages were as mythological 200 years later as they are 900 years later. Same goes for Renaissance Festivals. It has a nicer ring to it than Medieval Festival, but that’s really what’s being represented there.
Which reminds me, I need to read.
Because certainly this hasn’t been popping up enough on peoples Tumblr dashboard feeds yet, here’s another retweet of probably the most terrifying and awesome thing I’ve seen this month.