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View Full Version : Helping a friend: Vikings, mushrooms and the authorship of Beowolf.



maxmordon
05-12-2010, 02:22 AM
I know what they say, "Absolute Write is not your personal army", but a friend of mine is looking some information and I thought, what the heck, another thread wouldn't hurt...

Essentially she's looking for resources to refute some information that her history professor taught her, namely...



I'm mainly looking for resources that show that Vikings didn't do raids while doing on hallucinogenic mushrooms, that every raid did not contain beserkers, Caedmond is not the author of Beowulf, and that Vikings did not sodomize the corpses of monks they killed to name a few.

I don't know much about this allegations, but I just wanted to check for assisantance to more skilled people in the subject.

Thanks for advance for all you answers, you wonderful people. :)

firedrake
05-12-2010, 02:27 AM
All I can say, from my own research for my WIP, is that vikings were given a pretty bad press. They weren't even called 'vikings' until the 19th century.

However, my research has been limited to Norsemen in Cumbria in the late 9th century and, as far as I can tell, they settled fairly quietly. The main bother was between the Norse and the Danes.

Medievalist
05-12-2010, 03:03 AM
Her professor is an idiot.

Seriously, that's so full of crap that I suspect HE's doing 'shrooms.

Is she in the U.S. or U.K. Max?

My response re: resources would be different depending on if she has ready access to US/UK published books.

maxmordon
05-12-2010, 04:17 AM
Thanks for the answer, Firedrake. She's in the US, Medievalist, Nebraska if I am not mistaken; she's setting up a complaining against him.

kuwisdelu
05-12-2010, 08:36 AM
Her professor is an idiot.

Seriously, that's so full of crap that I suspect HE's doing 'shrooms.

Is she in the U.S. or U.K. Max?

My response re: resources would be different depending on if she has ready access to US/UK published books.

What she said.

Just about everything that teacher said is wrong.

I don't know much about vikings, but I know that info is just plain wrong.

What I do know is no one knows who wrote Beowulf.

Medievalist
05-12-2010, 09:32 AM
Beowulf is in a single burned ms. The ms. has two hands suggesting two scribes, and is a mixture of dialects and old and new forms. It has no named author, and it probably an oral formulaic work, that is, an oral traditional collaboration.

Caedmon is known only by a passing reference in Bede's History of England, where Bede recites the tale of a cowherd divinely gifted, suddenly, with the gift of poetry.

Bede died in 731; the Beowulf ms. was created around the year 10000. There is no reason to assume that Caedmon created the story, or the ms. There are two other named poets of Old English literature and that's it--the main poet is Anonymous.

The Berserkers did not ingest hallucenogenic mushrooms; the name means bear shirt. They were reputed in the Old Norse sagas to wear a shirt made of bear skin in battle. They were associated with insane battle fury, with viciousness, and with being men who simply plunder and loot at any excuse. There's another name for them in Old Norse which translates as wolf-skin wearer--in other words, these were men who behaved like animals.

The contemporary assertion that they consumed hallucinogenic mushrooms is just that--an after the fact contemporary assertion, and one that is not made by Medieval or Old Norse scholars.

The idea of frenzied warriors with battle-rage appears not only in Greek myth, Old Norse, and Old Irish myths, as well as in tales about the Japanese samurai.

And decent modern editions of Beowulf, like the one in the Norton Anthology of English, with its introduction, or the Norton Critical Edition of Beowulf, will provide amply material for refutation.

GeorgeK
05-12-2010, 09:54 AM
Oh, Nebraska, that explains it.







Not really, (actually the one time that I was in Nebraska I had a very nice meal at a "Waffle House". It's undoubtedly some dork doing shrooms or maybe a teacher so disgusted by the silence of the crowd that he's trying to wake them up from their doing shrooms.

GeorgeK
05-12-2010, 10:05 AM
The Berserkers did not ingest hallucenogenic mushrooms; the name means bear shirt. They were reputed in the Old Norse sagas to wear a shirt made of bear skin in battle. They were associated with insane battle fury, with viciousness, and with being men who simply plunder and loot at any excuse. There's another name for them in Old Norse which translates as wolf-skin wearer--in other words, these were men who behaved like animals.


For some bizarre reason this reminds me of High School Wrestling where guys would head butt each other or lockers to get ramped up before a match. It always seemed to freak them out that'd I'd lay down on a bench and take a nap.

Someone would invariably wake me up demanding, "George! How can you sleep at a time like this!" To which I'd reply, "What safer place is there to sleep than around a bunch of homophobic guys?

Eventually, I had to just say that that was the safest place to sleep because all the headbutting left many of them unable to decipher the meaning of the term homophobic.

DrZoidberg
05-12-2010, 12:32 PM
We had to learn all about the Vikings in school, being Swedish. If I remember correctly, the Christian Saxons (Holy Roman empire?) where constantly harassing and attacking the Danish Vikings. The excuse was to Christianise them. To raise money for the war the Vikings attacked the defenceless Christian monasteries in England. A bit like a Christian is a Christian.

As the attacks from the Christians to the south increased, the more money was needed, so the raids increased in frequency. This created the image of the bloodthirsty Vikings and yada yada yada. Interestingly enough most of the bad press comes from the Holy Roman Empire and not England.

Viking society was of course pretty much identical to Christian society. And Religion was as its always been, mostly just a political tool.

Eventually Harald Bluetooth came up with the brilliant plan to convert all the Vikings to Christianity so they could finally live in peace with the annoying Christians, and didn't have to raid any longer. Not so much anyway. A major trade product for the Vikings were slaves.

Anyhoo... this was all from memory.

oh... and you don't win a battle by being berserk. You win a battle by having more disciplined soldiers. It's pretty basic to any warfare at any time. Vikings won a lot of battles. But it doesn't hurt if your opponents think that you're a bunch of frothing-at-the-mouth-howling-lunatics who want nothing more than to gnaw on your bones in a hallucinogenic stupor.

PeterL
05-12-2010, 04:36 PM
Your friend should demand that the professor show credible sources for the claims. If the professor can't, then the department head should be informed. If I had a professor like that, the professor would have backed off.

Kathie Freeman
05-12-2010, 07:46 PM
The "frenzied warrior" phenomenon is nothing more than an excess of adrenaline, witness the Rodney King "arrest".

nsanelilmunky
05-12-2010, 10:58 PM
rotflmao

Mordon, thanks for the help. These responses are freaking awesome.

Though to the comment about Nebraska, you really can't go by my state as an excuse. This professor is actually from California. My biggest problem with this professor is that he seemed to think he needed to have an hour long 'lecture' (AKA rant) about how the resurrection is 'part of the historical record' and also gave us excerpts from the bible as required reading.

This professor just likes to put everything in an anti-Christian stance and say that it's fact.

GeorgeK
05-12-2010, 11:19 PM
rotflmao

This professor just likes to put everything in an anti-Christian stance and say that it's fact.

I couldn't delete the anagram for laughter because that sort of thing should always be appreciated, take it where you can get it.

I seriously doubt that your teacher has actually translated the Roman court records. I did, many years ago and it went something like this (I say something like, because you need to understand the Roman mindset to understand the context)

Record, 42 from Judea. ( sounding bored)

Wait a minute, did you say Judea?

Yes, what of it?

Well if it's Judean, then it's not our concern, is it? That's a province.

I suppose so.

Is it anything at least interesting?

No, not really, just some Joshua claiming to be the king of the Jews.

Isn't it odd that all the men are named Joshua?

Yes, and all the women are named Mary. It must be terribly confusing.

Well it wouldn't be confusing if you didn't care which Joshua or Mary you were sleeping with that night, now would you?

I hadn't thought about it that way. They must be a terribly depraved lot.

Undoubtedly, but what was the crime?

Actually he was acquitted then given 40 lashes to teach him not to show up in the Roman Court System again and then remanded over to local authorities.

What did they do?

Well they killed him of course. Don't they always?

That does seem to be the pattern.

Have you had the braised rat from Napoli? They roast them and them dip them in honey before roasting them a second time.

nsanelilmunky
05-12-2010, 11:48 PM
^^^You know, your example reminded me of another one of his 'facts'. Apparently, the main reason that the Roman Empire fell was homosexuality.

GeorgeK
05-13-2010, 12:05 AM
well there was a problem with the declining birth rate, I sort of assumed it was the lead plumbing

firedrake
05-13-2010, 12:08 AM
This thread (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=174257) is the reason I have what I have under my user name.

Ariella
05-13-2010, 01:39 AM
Oh boy. I hope your friend is successful in ousting that professor. I know some top-notch Medieval Studies Ph.D.s who can't get academic jobs.

ReallyRong
05-13-2010, 04:19 AM
Taking on from convenient Swedish history, my memories of UK history has it that the UK was, in the year eight hundred and a bit, as ever, a land of green and pleasant pastures and forests. By the time the Vikings arrived we were pretty much Anglo Saxonised - the Celts had been forced back into Scotland and Ireland and the Britons into Cornwall and Wales. There were other Northern tribes, but I can't remember their names. The Vikings did a lot of damage (but after 1200 years I'm not seeking compensation), but they eventually settled into the areas they had invaded, not just in the UK but Normandy in France. I stand to be corrected, but I believe that Dublin was originally a Viking settlement, hence the preponderance of wild red headed people over there, such as my wife :-)

Medievalist
05-13-2010, 04:57 AM
Oh boy. I hope your friend is successful in ousting that professor. I know some top-notch Medieval Studies Ph.D.s who can't get academic jobs.

[cough]

Medievalist
05-13-2010, 04:57 AM
I believe that Dublin was originally a Viking settlement, hence the preponderance of wild red headed people over there, such as my wife :-)

Dublin, Limerick, and Cork were all Viking trade cites.

Medievalist
05-13-2010, 04:58 AM
^^^You know, your example reminded me of another one of his 'facts'. Apparently, the main reason that the Roman Empire fell was homosexuality.

He's an ass-hat.

PGK
05-13-2010, 05:17 AM
Oh boy. I hope your friend is successful in ousting that professor. I know some top-notch Medieval Studies Ph.D.s who can't get academic jobs.


Unfortunately this will not happen so easily. It mostly depends on his rank, then seniority, then history. If he's an adjunct with no prior history they might reconsider hiring him. Anything above that though and pretty much nothing will be done to him (unless he has a very long history of complaints against him). At best (and I mean absolute best) case scenario the plaintiff student will be thanked by a department head or dean for such an earnest interest in knowledge and the professor will be reprimanded behind closed doors (and by reprimanded I mean he will gently be told to check his facts first before teaching/preaching something in class).

In fact, the Viking stories will surely get you nowhere in an endeavor to have him removed (though by all means please do go for it). Your best case would be with his religious views. Most universities have strict policies against promoting or degrading any political and/or religious ideologies inside the classroom. As stated earlier even this won't likely get him removed, but a university (especially a smaller one) fears lawsuits like the plague. Unfortunately you'd have a better case against him if he were anti-christian because then you could threaten with media exposure and watch them run for the hills. Pro-christian rants in the classroom are seen more favorably in the media (especially in smaller towns).

I do wonder, however, what he teaches. If Vikings are detrimental to his curriculum, and their history is something he's supposed to be adequately knowledgeable in to teach then your chances improve considerably (he still won't be fired for this, but suddenly the department head will start paying closer attention to any and all other complaints against him).

You could request an audit of your class by a department head (or a fellow prof with seniority) who would know better on these subjects. Unless your prof is a cunning man and will know to keep silent. Alternatively you could check your syllabus and see what his policies are on recording his lectures. But I warn you now that unless you can show something grossly inappropriate about him in those recordings it will count against you the student and you will "branded" as a troublemaker.



I just wanted to add my two cents because I've seen more campaigns against professors than you can imagine and almost none of them ended in the way the students wanted them to.

PGK
05-13-2010, 05:20 AM
^^^You know, your example reminded me of another one of his 'facts'. Apparently, the main reason that the Roman Empire fell was homosexuality.


Adding to my above reply based on this quote:

Now there's your golden ticket. If he's openly expressing homophobic views you can forget everything else he's said and focus on that.

nsanelilmunky
05-13-2010, 10:04 PM
Adding to my above reply based on this quote:

Now there's your golden ticket. If he's openly expressing homophobic views you can forget everything else he's said and focus on that.

In addition to what you posted above (too long to quote :P )

He is an adjunct, so there is a high possibility of him being fired :)

My main complaint when I turned it in was him teaching the resurrection and the required bible excerpts as reading. The rest of this is just adding to my complaint. I did bring the homophobic Rome thing up to the department head though too.

Oh, and you have no idea about odd/homophobic quotes. He seems to find reasons to say sodomy just about every class.

Medievalist
05-13-2010, 10:33 PM
In addition to what you posted above (too long to quote :P )

He is an adjunct, so there is a high possibility of him being fired :)

I hate to wish that on anyone.

I note that most medievalists are now congregating for the annual ritual known as the Kalamazoo International Medieval Congress.

I got a deadline, and can't be there . . . .

Waaaaaaaaahhhh

maxmordon
05-19-2010, 02:54 AM
I just wanted to say thanks for all the support and help you people have giving to Munky. This is what I love of AW!