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Author Topic: Most annoying historical myths?  (Read 17911 times)

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Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #50 on: July 15, 2013, 08:39:03 PM »
Maybe they think the Three Kingdoms fell in love or something?  (Woot!  Three way!)

*ahem*  Sorry - that was my inner sophomore talking.


The Marriages between Zones Three, Four and Five by Doris Lessing  :D (that one's a sci-fi, though)

Somebody else told me how he had managed to get kicked out of the theatre when Costner's Robin Hood film was doing its cinematic tour. Over the course of the first half of the film, he had drilled the section he was sitting in to declare in chorus "What say you Good Sir!" in Nebraskan accent whenever Robin entered a scene. Kevin Costner's obvious U.S. accent in medieval England is a real B-movie thing about that film.  ;)
« Last Edit: July 15, 2013, 08:40:07 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #51 on: July 15, 2013, 08:51:45 PM »

The Marriages between Zones Three, Four and Five by Doris Lessing  :D (that one's a sci-fi, though)

Somebody else told me how he had managed to get kicked out of the theatre when Costner's Robin Hood film was doing its cinematic tour. Over the course of the first half of the film, he had drilled the section he was sitting in to declare in chorus "What say you Good Sir!" in Nebraskan accent whenever Robin entered a scene. Kevin Costner's obvious U.S. accent in medieval England is a real B-movie thing about that film.  ;)

'Because unlike other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent!' (Cary Elwes from Robin Hood: Men in Tights)

Offline alextaylor

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #52 on: July 15, 2013, 09:35:58 PM »
Don't like the myth of Saladin (Salah al-Din) being the only notable Islamic general. Saladin gets idolized as a defender of Islam because of the Crusades, yet there are way too many unsung Muslim heroes.


There have been tons of great Muslim generals:
The Prophet Muhammad for one - whether or not you believe he was a Prophet, he had good enough leadership to convince his worst enemies that he was divinely inspired. Arguably, he was a better political leader, but as head of state, he led most battles personally.

Abu Bakr and Umar al-Khattab, who built Arabia from a backwards desert tribe to defeating the Byzantines and Persians, the biggest superpowers of the era.

Khalid al-Walid, who was undefeated throughout his career (including his battle against Muhammad). Notably defeating experienced Roman/Persian armies 2x-10x his size, and taking the most difficult battles. The Battle of Yarmouk is arguably one of the most pivotal battles in history.

Mehmed II - Conquered what was arguably the most fortified city in the world at the time. Granted, he did so with superior manpower and good technology, but his future conquests were some of the most influential in history.

I could probably do a huge list, with others like 'Amr (conquest of Alexandria/Egypt), Barbarossa (great naval leader), Tariq bin Ziyad (conquest of Hispania). But going to stop before I get tempted, because I could spend all day on this :P

Offline Cyrano JohnsonTopic starter

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #53 on: July 16, 2013, 12:35:42 PM »
there are way too many unsung Muslim heroes.

So yes to this. To all of this. I've been a fan of Khalid ibn Walid since I first read about him... and I'm sickened by the disrespect that ill-educated Western prats are accustomed to dishing out to Muhammad, who whether you're religious or not was quite obviously one of the most accomplished human beings of any culture in any era. (In fact I can't think of any other single person who distinguished themselves as a trader, a poet, a statesman, a general and the founder of a great religion all in one lifetime.)

Offline Neysha

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #54 on: July 16, 2013, 01:18:18 PM »
With all due respect I'm not sure how many of those Unsung Muslim Heroes are unsung, heroic (beyond the Muslim world) or fall under a historical myth.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #55 on: July 16, 2013, 01:23:45 PM »
Well, to be fair, 'heroic' depends a lot on where you're looking at them from.  Julius Caesar may not have looked terribly heroic to the Gauls, but the Roman people seemed to find him so (with a couple notable exceptions.)

Offline Neysha

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #56 on: July 16, 2013, 01:25:58 PM »
Well, to be fair, 'heroic' depends a lot on where you're looking at them from.  Julius Caesar may not have looked terribly heroic to the Gauls, but the Roman people seemed to find him so (with a couple notable exceptions.)

Oh I agree. Hence why I stated beyond the Muslim world. ;)

Offline Cyrano JohnsonTopic starter

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #57 on: July 16, 2013, 01:44:32 PM »
I would say it's plenty possible for heroes to be so cross-culturally, since enemies can respect an accomplished and worthy opponent. (That's exactly why the Crusaders respected Saladin, and ancient Greeks respected Persia's Immortals. Not everyone today remembers this, of course -- hence why the movie 300 had to turn the Persians into subhuman monsters -- but it is nevertheless the case.) I don't quite know if there's really a myth that Saladin is the only great Muslim general, but it's certainly the case that his legend has crowded many other equally-worthy figures out of popular imagination, at least in the West.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2013, 01:46:56 PM by Cyrano Johnson »

Offline NiceTexasGuy

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #58 on: July 16, 2013, 01:50:43 PM »
I suspect there are a lot of people in China who don't revere Theodore Roosevelt.  I don't see this as particularly racist or even Chinacentric (is that a word?) ... For the sake of my inner peace, I just sort of expect it and try not to read too much into it.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #59 on: July 16, 2013, 01:53:19 PM »
Oh I agree. Hence why I stated beyond the Muslim world. ;)

Ah.  I believe I misread you, then.  Sorries!  :-)

Offline Cyrano JohnsonTopic starter

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #60 on: July 16, 2013, 01:56:10 PM »
I suspect there are a lot of people in China who don't revere Theodore Roosevelt.

It don't work for everyone, obviously.

[EDIT: Really, the "honor between enemies" dynamic tends to die in the face of propaganda designed for mass mobilization, which has to be as simple and clear-cut as possible to be effective. This is actually quite noticeable in the propaganda of any nationality, which is a function served by a lot of action cinema. In modern Chinese kung fu movies, for instance, there is now almost always a Western (or at least Japanese) villain allied with the main antagonist who almost always is engaged in stealing and exporting priceless Chinese artistic treasures. These figures tend to be incredibly two-dimensional mustache twirlers: I actually watched a movie the other day that literally showed an American commander laughing maniacally as he watched the shelling of a Shaolin temple.]
« Last Edit: July 16, 2013, 02:35:48 PM by Cyrano Johnson »

Offline alextaylor

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #61 on: July 17, 2013, 11:53:51 AM »
With all due respect I'm not sure how many of those Unsung Muslim Heroes are unsung, heroic (beyond the Muslim world) or fall under a historical myth.

Sorry, I mean "heroes" in the more fantastic sense, like olympian hero or the main characters of a fantasy. More in the sense of "larger than life" characters, not so much "people who have sacrificed to change the world". The latter term doesn't work so well, because you can spend lifetimes defending it.

I wouldn't be quick to dismiss them as myth, because history has shown some significant changes during that time period. The only real question is whether it was the act of a few extremely gifted individuals, or the act of many people who have above average skill. From a lot of the documents of that time, it's likely that their heroes stood on the shoulders of giants. There are many narrations of common soldiers going forth into an enemy war camp with full knowledge of what he was fighting for, and that the commanders were dressed in the same gear as the rank-and-file troops. Khalid al-Walid was relieved of his post, ironically to prevent him from being idolized as a hero.

The people the Muslims conquered eventually converted to Islam. That's a sign that they actually respected/revered their 'liberators', but I won't dismiss the whole 'conversion by the sword' theory.

But my rant was more in the sense that if you ask an average Muslim who his most respected figure was, he'd say "Salah al-Din". Not that Saladin was a poor leader, but he had a good advantage, fighting against people unaccustomed to desert warfare, who came from distant countries and were not entirely united. On the other hand, the lesser known Muslim generals actually fought with significant tactical disadvantage, many venturing well beyond territories they were familiar with, and fought against very well trained opponents on their home ground. But unlike the barbarian tribes who have accomplished the same thing, they had a long lasting impact on the world.

I would say it's plenty possible for heroes to be so cross-culturally, since enemies can respect an accomplished and worthy opponent. (That's exactly why the Crusaders respected Saladin, and ancient Greeks respected Persia's Immortals. Not everyone today remembers this, of course -- hence why the movie 300 had to turn the Persians into subhuman monsters -- but it is nevertheless the case.) I don't quite know if there's really a myth that Saladin is the only great Muslim general, but it's certainly the case that his legend has crowded many other equally-worthy figures out of popular imagination, at least in the West.

I think most of us, regardless of cultural background, know about Benjamin Franklin, Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, etc. But the propaganda changes with time... 70 years ago, the Germans and Japanese were the bad guys. Shortly before that, the whole world was rejecting the British Empire. And then, there was the anti-communism just a few decades back. Today, there's a lot of tension between the Middle East and the West, so it's natural to dismiss the accomplishments of the Middle East.

Offline Neysha

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #62 on: July 17, 2013, 05:28:04 PM »
'Because unlike other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent!' (Cary Elwes from Robin Hood: Men in Tights)

The Kevin Costner version of Robin Hood was still waaaaaaaay better then the Russell Crowe version. ;)

THIS IS A FACT!

Plus it's not like the contemporary British accent is somehow close to the 12th century medieval English accent. Unless there's some amazing study I'm unaware of. :)
« Last Edit: July 17, 2013, 05:31:25 PM by Neysha »

Offline Cyrano JohnsonTopic starter

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #63 on: July 17, 2013, 06:12:05 PM »
The Kevin Costner version of Robin Hood was still waaaaaaaay better then the Russell Crowe version. ;)

THIS IS A FACT!

Yes, it certainly is.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #64 on: July 17, 2013, 07:17:55 PM »
The Kevin Costner version of Robin Hood was still waaaaaaaay better then the Russell Crowe version. ;)

THIS IS A FACT!

Plus it's not like the contemporary British accent is somehow close to the 12th century medieval English accent. Unless there's some amazing study I'm unaware of. :)

I read somewhere before that it would sound closer to Dutch to someone with a modern ear. I thought that was interesting.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #65 on: July 17, 2013, 07:51:47 PM »
I read somewhere before that it would sound closer to Dutch to someone with a modern ear. I thought that was interesting.

A lot of people don't realize that English is on the Germanic branch of the language tree. 

Offline Cthonig

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #66 on: July 17, 2013, 08:06:42 PM »
I recently saw a clip of someone testing that idea - Middle English being similar to (modern) Dutch. The two men were able to communicate relatively decently. Unfortunately I do not recall how or where I found it - if I do I'll try to link it.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #67 on: July 17, 2013, 08:09:32 PM »
Old English is very similar to German, once you get around the funky letters.  A friend of mine took a college course on Beowulf, with a page-by-page translation into modern English.  I recognized more words than I thought I would.  (Four years of German: three in high school and then two semesters in college.)

Offline Cthonig

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #68 on: July 17, 2013, 08:13:41 PM »
Found it.
speaking Middle English to a Dutch speaker

I also took German in high school but have forgotten most of it from disuse.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #69 on: July 17, 2013, 08:19:26 PM »
At the time that I looked at her textbook, it was still pretty fresh in my mind.  I can fake my way through my mother-in-law's neighbor speaking Yiddish enough to get her to stop (since she thinks I understand more than I do.)

Offline Trieste

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #70 on: July 17, 2013, 09:07:03 PM »
A lot of people don't realize that English is on the Germanic branch of the language tree. 

The connection seems obvious to me. ::) If I'm concentrating on someone speaking German hard enough, I can often figure out the gist of what's being said. Originally, I took it to mean that the connection was obvious, but I've since been told it's not a very widespread ability.

I don't get it. >.>

Similarly, I was listening to a language not long ago... I don't remember what language but it was a Middle Eastern language, and it sounds very closely related to Italian to me. I haven't had a chance to look up the family of languages and whatnot, but maybe Oni knows.  >:)

Yiddish is good if you want to end up hoarse. ::)

Offline Oniya

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #71 on: July 17, 2013, 09:14:21 PM »
Similarly, I was listening to a language not long ago... I don't remember what language but it was a Middle Eastern language, and it sounds very closely related to Italian to me. I haven't had a chance to look up the family of languages and whatnot, but maybe Oni knows.  >:)

Maltese, perhaps?

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #72 on: July 18, 2013, 07:24:09 AM »
"We tried various languages: French (no good on my part, his was better), English (of which he spoke only a smattering) and finally German, where we were almost equally dodgy, but both had baseline skills and some reading. So we mostly stuck with German, and to make things clearer we resorted to speaking loud and with heavy onsets on every other word. German has a way of sounding tough and brutal in a comical fashion when it's spoken as a means of conversation by non-native speakers."

-Tomas Transtr÷mer, Swedish poet and Nobel prize laureate for literature in 2011, reminiscing about his encounters with Hungarian poet Jan˛s Pilinszky in the 1960s and 70s. The two would translate each other some over the years, though they sought out the assistance of people who were bilinguals in their own languages and that of the other man too.

I can totally hear the kind of B-movie German talk he's indicating in the final line.  ;)

« Last Edit: July 18, 2013, 07:43:20 AM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Neysha

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #73 on: July 18, 2013, 08:32:19 AM »
The real accent challenge would be King Richard in the Robin Hood films.

How would we pin down the noble accent and language of a French-born, English Crusading Noble King with a Viking lineage. ;)

(And yes I'm paraphrasing, don't correct me! :P )

Offline Oniya

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #74 on: July 18, 2013, 10:47:21 AM »
I know at least one source that says he didn't speak a word of English (due to being French born and off on the Crusades all the time.)