Mignon Fogarty's Blog: Mignon Fogarty's Blog - Posts Tagged "history"

I'm listening to an audiobook about Irish history (A Brief History of the Druids) and was surprised to learn that in the Iron Age, Celts would make offerings to the gods by throwing their swords (and other metal items) into lakes and rivers.

I immediately thought of the Lady of the Lake tale from Arthurian legends, and lo and behold, I'm not the only one. Check out this webpage that describes the ritual in more detail and connects the Lady of the Lake to Celtic water goddess mythology. Celtic Iron Age Sword Deposits and Arthur's Lady of the Lake

Cool stuff! I wish my English classes in college had brought in more history.

Mignon Fogarty is better known online as Grammar Girl
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Published on April 25, 2012 09:23 • 1,015 views • Tags: history, legends, mythology
The beloved, canceled space western Firefly and the Old English epic poem Beowulf both mention reavers. Were the TV writers taking literature classes when they wrote this episode?

A couple of days ago I was reading some lines from Beowulf in an advance review copy of Vex Hex Smash Smooch by Constance Hale, when I smashed into the word "reaver":

on the misty moors; nobody knows
where these reavers from hell roam on their errands.

"Reavers" jumped out at me because the only time I remember hearing that word is in Firefly. Much like in Beowulf, reavers in Firefly are terrifying monsters.

I rushed over to my Oxford English Dictionary browser window and discovered that "reaver" is an ancient word, and it's not unique to Beowulf. It's found in multiple Old English texts and has been in steady use ever since to describe monsters, raiders, and pirates. "To reave" is also a verb to describe plundering, raiding, and stealing.

So Firefly probably wasn't directly taking words from Beowulf. It was just a word I didn't know. But it's still a fun connection between old and new entertainment, so I thought I'd share it with you.

As an aside, I also found an interesting site called Firefly and Western Literature with a post titled "Civilization and Savagery" speculating that the reavers in Firefly take the place of the Indians you'd see in an old American western.


Mignon Fogarty is better known online as Grammar Girl. She hopes to never meet a reaver of any kind.
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Published on June 11, 2012 20:38 • 4,338 views • Tags: history, legends, mythology, tv