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Re: Fastitocalon

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  • Jason Fisher
    ... Ah, I don t have my copy in front of me to refer to, but you must be (or Shippey must have been) referring to its appearance in Stapeldon Magazine, Vol. 7,
    Message 1 of 7 , Nov 30, 2006
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      > Anyway, pasted below is the piece, I'm very sorry it didn't go in, butall in all is probably
      > for the best-esp. since I didn't know about its appearance in 1927 that Shippey in the
      > Ency. notes on more than one occasion. Ah, the foibles that happen when the ignorant
      > pretend to knowledge.....

      Ah, I don't have my copy in front of me to refer to, but you must be (or Shippey must have been) referring to its appearance in Stapeldon Magazine, Vol. 7, No. 40. The earlier version of "Oliphaunt" was also published in that issue. And lest you think I just rattled that off from the top of my head, hahae, here's a useful little chronological bibliography I often find myself referring to:

      http://www.forodrim.org/arda/tbchron.html

      Reading your short piece, I was struck by something:

      > The Physiologus consists of short descriptions of animals and gives a moral meaning
      > to each creature, often accompanied by a Biblical verse. Not all of the beasts
      > described in the work are “real”, many are fabulous and fantastic in nature.

      This reminds me markedly of Borges' "Book of Imaginary Beings" -- I wonder if he was influenced by the Physiologus? It also puts me in mind of some of the illustrations of "fantastical animals" so common in the marginalia of medieval mappaemundi. Ah, so many connections to explore, so little time ...

      > In closing, I should say that I had wanted to find out why Tolkien took Fastitlocan for
      > a tortoise rather than whale, but was unable to trace anything linguistically...not that
      > I put that much effort into it.

      It's an interesting question. Not that Tolkien ever showed much preference for Asian mythologies, but there's a Hindu and a Balinese tradition of the "world turtle" (Akupara and Bedwang, respectively) -- a gigantic turtle carrying the world on its back (also present in several other world mythologies). And as some here will know, Terry Pratchett has incorporated this idea into his Discworld books. And Borges talks about the "world turtle" in BoIB as well.

      Thanks for sharing your piece. :)

      Jason Fisher
    • David Emerson
      ... Also, at least some Native American traditions consider North America to be Turtle Island -- a remarkably similar image. emerdavid
      Message 2 of 7 , Nov 30, 2006
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        >From: Jason Fisher <visualweasel@...>
        >
        >It's an interesting question. Not that Tolkien ever showed
        >much preference for Asian mythologies, but there's a Hindu
        >and a Balinese tradition of the "world turtle" (Akupara and
        >Bedwang, respectively) -- a gigantic turtle carrying the
        >world on its back (also present in several other world
        >mythologies). And as some here will know, Terry Pratchett
        >has incorporated this idea into his Discworld books. And
        >Borges talks about the "world turtle" in BoIB as well.

        Also, at least some Native American traditions consider North America to be "Turtle Island" -- a remarkably similar image.



        emerdavid

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      • Larry Swain
        ... Thanks, yes, I refer to that one too. I kenw the poem from Adventure of TB, so it didn t occur to me to look and see if Tolkien had published it earlier
        Message 3 of 7 , Nov 30, 2006
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          >
          > Ah, I don't have my copy in front of me to refer to, but you must
          > be (or Shippey must have been) referring to its appearance in
          > Stapeldon Magazine, Vol. 7, No. 40. The earlier version of
          > "Oliphaunt" was also published in that issue. And lest you think I
          > just rattled that off from the top of my head, hahae, here's a
          > useful little chronological bibliography I often find myself
          > referring to:
          >
          > http://www.forodrim.org/arda/tbchron.html

          Thanks, yes, I refer to that one too. I kenw the poem from Adventure of TB, so it didn't occur to me to look and see if Tolkien had published it earlier or in another form previously. Yes I was referring to what Shippey was referring to: Stapeldon Mag. According to Shippey this is a different "version" than that in ATB.


          >
          > Reading your short piece, I was struck by something:
          >
          > > The Physiologus consists of short descriptions of animals and
          > > gives a moral meaning
          > > to each creature, often accompanied by a Biblical verse. Not all
          > > of the beasts
          > > described in the work are “real”, many are fabulous and fantastic in nature.
          >
          > This reminds me markedly of Borges' "Book of Imaginary Beings" -- I
          > wonder if he was influenced by the Physiologus?

          I would imagine, and if not by Phsysiologus directly, by bestiaries which of course take their cue from the Phys.

          It also puts me in
          > mind of some of the illustrations of "fantastical animals" so
          > common in the marginalia of medieval mappaemundi. Ah, so many
          > connections to explore, so little time ...

          Same as above, if not boring directly from Phys. and illustrated mss thereof, undoubtedly influenced by illuminated bestiaries which became so very popular during the 12th century and after.

          >
          > > In closing, I should say that I had wanted to find out why
          > > Tolkien took Fastitlocan for
          > > a tortoise rather than whale, but was unable to trace anything
          > > linguistically...not that
          > > I put that much effort into it.
          >
          > It's an interesting question. Not that Tolkien ever showed much
          > preference for Asian mythologies, but there's a Hindu and a
          > Balinese tradition of the "world turtle" (Akupara and Bedwang,
          > respectively) -- a gigantic turtle carrying the world on its back
          > (also present in several other world mythologies). And as some here
          > will know, Terry Pratchett has incorporated this idea into his
          > Discworld books. And Borges talks about the "world turtle" in BoIB
          > as well.
          >
          Yes, I was aware of some of this too, and wondered, but couldn't make any sort of direct connection. But it's on the back burner, maybe I'll come upon something someday.

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        • "Beregond. Anders Stenström"
          ... Tolkien s _Letters_, number 255, says that Fastitocalon in the Anglo-Saxon bestiary seems to be a corruption of _Aspido-chelone_ (with a macron on the
          Message 4 of 7 , Nov 30, 2006
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            Larry Swain wrote:

            >>In closing, I should say that I had wanted to find out why Tolkien took Fastitlocan for
            >>a tortoise rather than whale, but was unable to trace anything linguistically...not that
            >>I put that much effort into it.

            Tolkien's _Letters_, number 255, says that "Fastitocalon" in the
            Anglo-Saxon bestiary seems to be a corruption of _Aspido-chelone_
            (with a macron on the second "o"), which he translates "turtle with
            a round shield (of hide)".

            For what it's worth, I can mention that when I visited Oxford
            University's Museum of Natural History some years ago, practically
            the first thing facing one inside the entrance was a giant turtle.
            I do not know if it was there in Tolkien's time, but it looked as
            if it might have been.

            Chivalrous greetings,

            Beregond
          • Larry Swain
            ... I overlooked this reference....all the more reason for my entry not to have been included. The Bosworth-Tollers OE dictionary gives the same information,
            Message 5 of 7 , Nov 30, 2006
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              >
              >
              >
              > Larry Swain wrote:
              >
              > >> In closing, I should say that I had wanted to find out why
              > >> Tolkien took Fastitlocan for
              > >> a tortoise rather than whale, but was unable to trace anything
              > >> linguistically...not that
              > >> I put that much effort into it.
              >
              > Tolkien's _Letters_, number 255, says that "Fastitocalon" in the
              > Anglo-Saxon bestiary seems to be a corruption of _Aspido-chelone_
              > (with a macron on the second "o"), which he translates "turtle with
              > a round shield (of hide)".

              I overlooked this reference....all the more reason for my entry not to have been included. The Bosworth-Tollers OE dictionary gives the same information, and may be where Tolkien is getting it. I considered this as his inspiration, but couldin't actually find an instance of the compound in Greek or Latin to justify the BT reference, but admittedly I didn't do any kind of extensive search or even really look at scholarship on the Exeter book "The Whale"...ok, I was lazy. Anyway, when I didn't immediately find any references to aspidochelone, I decided I wouldn't include discussion in the article and tabled searching for a "source" until later. aspido, is classical Greek for shield, chelone is a tortoise.


              > For what it's worth, I can mention that when I visited Oxford
              > University's Museum of Natural History some years ago, practically
              > the first thing facing one inside the entrance was a giant turtle.
              > I do not know if it was there in Tolkien's time, but it looked as
              > if it might have been.

              Very interesting!!

              >
              > Chivalrous greetings,
              >
              > Beregond
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
              > Yahoo! Groups Links
              >
              >
              >

              >


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            • Walter Padgett
              Hi, It is just this kind of thing in a documentary/biography film (with the right actors) on Tolkien that would be in order, I think. Walter. - - -
              Message 6 of 7 , Dec 1, 2006
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                Hi,

                It is just this kind of thing in a documentary/biography film (with
                the right actors) on Tolkien that would be in order, I think.

                Walter.
                - - -

                On 11/30/06, "Beregond. Anders Stenström" <beregond@...> wrote:
                > Larry Swain wrote:
                >
                > >>In closing, I should say that I had wanted to find out why Tolkien took Fastitlocan for a tortoise rather than whale, but was unable to trace anything linguistically...not that I put that much effort into it.
                > >>
                --------------------
                Stenström:

                > Tolkien's _Letters_, number 255, says that "Fastitocalon" in the
                > Anglo-Saxon bestiary seems to be a corruption of _Aspido-chelone_
                > (with a macron on the second "o"), which he translates "turtle with
                > a round shield (of hide)".
                >
                > For what it's worth, I can mention that when I visited Oxford
                > University's Museum of Natural History some years ago, practically
                > the first thing facing one inside the entrance was a giant turtle.
                > I do not know if it was there in Tolkien's time, but it looked as
                > if it might have been.
                >
                > Chivalrous greetings,
                >
                > Beregond
              • Wayne G. Hammond
                ... Carpenter missed it in the chronological checklist of Tolkien s works in the back of the first edition of the Biography, but picked it up in the 1987
                Message 7 of 7 , Dec 1, 2006
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                  Jason wrote:

                  >Ah, I don't have my copy in front of me to refer to, but you must be (or
                  >Shippey must have been) referring to its appearance in Stapeldon Magazine,
                  >Vol. 7, No. 40. The earlier version of "Oliphaunt" was also published in
                  >that issue. And lest you think I just rattled that off from the top of my
                  >head, hahae, here's a useful little chronological bibliography I often
                  >find myself referring to:
                  >
                  > http://www.forodrim.org/arda/tbchron.html

                  Carpenter missed it in the chronological checklist of Tolkien's works in
                  the back of the first edition of the Biography, but picked it up in the
                  1987 edition and later. It's also listed elsewhere, e.g. the Tolkien
                  Descriptive Bibliography (1993). A few lines are quoted in the
                  "Fastitocalon" entry in the Companion and Guide (vol. 2, pp. 295-7), which
                  like Larry's article explores the roots of the poem (both poems with that
                  title) in the Physiologus, the Voyage of St Brendan, etc.

                  Wayne Hammond


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