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 Post subject: A Sogurian Tale
PostPosted: Wed Jul 07, 2010 12:34 am 
Sumerul
Sumerul

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 2:38 am
Posts: 2974
Location: Israel
So, I was in my favourite tavern in Sogur recently, and there was a wandering story-teller there. She told a tale I'd never come across before, about Ateče, the first of the semi-mythical heroes of Sogurian antiquity, and I thought you might like to hear it.

I'll just warn you first; I translated it as close to the Sogurian as I could, and I've left all the idiomatic language in. Everything's explained afterwards though, of course. (Read the bottom bit of this post first, that might help (though it contains spoilers).)



How Ateče Was Forgiven:

It happened thus, my children; a dark night without a single star's light came upon them. And the fires were lit but gave little warmth, and along the road came Mbandža, so. In the house were Winda and Lila, they were in the house together, so. Mbandža knew they were there, because he heard them. Mbandža waited outside the house for nine months, and sure enough, after nine months he heard a newborn's cry, so. The newborn was called Ateče, and he became a boy, then a young man, then an adult. But it was not only thus, my children.

It happened thus, my children; when Ateče was a boy, Mbandža took him travelling with him around all the lands. But Ateče never found his favour, and always he was unhappy with Mbandža, and he expressed it, so. Mbandža whipped him thoroughly whenever he expressed his feelings, saying, "This emotion is not fitting for a hero", so. When Ateče went home, Lila his mother cried and wept and wailed, saying, "He is empty, he is no longer my son", so. But we must not hate Ateče for hurting Lila, my children.

It happened thus, my children; Lila became sick from weeping and could not eat, instead she lay all day under a blue garland. It was now that Mbandža spoke to Ateče, saying, "You must go on a journey, if you want your mother's eyes to sparkle with happiness and not with tears", so. And Ateče went over all the lands, searching for something to make his mother's eyes happy, so. He stopped at every house and every farm and every camp, saying, "What will make my mother's eyes happy?", so. But he got many different answers, my children.

It happened thus, my children; a dark night without a single star's light came upon them. And the fires were lit but gave little warmth, and along the road came Ateče, so. He was returning from his quest to find that which would make his mother's eyes happy. He did not know which of the answers he had been given was the right answer, and his own eyes were also unhappy, so. He asked Mbandža, saying, "What is the thing that will make my mother's eyes happy?", so. But remember, Ateče has forgotten his emotions, my children.

It happened thus, my children; Lila became sicker and sicker and cried and wept and wailed even more. Ateče saw then a girl from another village, whose name was Ketha, and she had long black hair and her laughter was always upon her lips, so. Ateče had never seen her before, and when she smiled he thought she was beautiful, and so he went up to her, saying, "What will make my mother's eyes happy?", so. But of course, his question never got through his teeth, my children.

It happened thus, my children; Ateče's forgotten emotions suddenly returned into his heart, because of Ketha's smile. So he forgot his journey to seek that which would make his mother's eyes happy, and he went into the house with Ketha, they went into the house together, so. Mbandža came along the road, and he knew they were in the house, he knew because he heard them. And he waited outside the house for nine months, and sure enough, after nine months he heard a newborn's cry, so. But the sound of the cry reminded Ateče of his journey, my children.

It happened thus, my children; Ateče's stomach grew cold, and he went out of the house to find his mother. And he came along the road, and he saw a stone outside his mother's house, so. Ateče came along the road and his heart was tight, saying, "Where is my mother? I have found the thing to make her eyes happy", so. And Winda, his father, looked upon him in grey sadness and spoke to him, saying, "You surely found it long ago, why come you only now?", so. But Ateče could not tell him, my children.

It happened thus, my children; when Ateče became an adult and saw the stone outside his mother's house. He came along the road again, and met Mbandža, saying, "Why did you not remind me of my journey?", so. Mbanja replied, saying, "Because your journey ends with Ketha and your newborn daughter", so. And then Ateče's heart loosened and he came along the road and saw Ketha with his newborn daughter. He put his hand on her naked head, saying, "Eila", so. And that was how it happened, my children.



Now here's some background and context about the characters:

Ateče: Hero. The charismatic, all-around good guy of Sogurian myth, and the defeater of Mastan, the Usurper, he was born entirely without fear. He is every teenage girl's fantasy, tall, dark, strong, and very protective of his wife and daughter (could be compared to Herakles/Hercules). He made a pact with Mbandža; they would travel together if Mbandža would make him a hero. Their adventures are the subject of countless other tales.

Mbandža: The Traveller. Mbandža is a spirit who lives in all the roads and paths and highways and dirt tracks of the world. He is very wise, because he sees everything in all the cities and towns, from the roads he personifies. However, what he doesn't know is what happens inside, within houses, where there are no roads. This is why people get wanderlust; Mbandža is trying to persuade them to travel with him, so that he can learn about them.

Lila and Winda: Ateče's parents. In this particular telling, they were simply ordinary folk, but in other stories they are King and Queen of the Mirror (the land of myth - a mirror image of Sogur), and Ateče its Prince. Here, Lila bewails the emotionless tranquility that makes a warrior of her son, which causes her to sicken and die of a broken heart.

Ketha: Ateče's wife. She is the Brave Mother and the Strong Wife; the most beautiful woman in the universe. In other stories, she faces gigantic odds for her husband and daughter, and always comes out on top, because of her bravery and strength (ideal qualities in a Sogurian woman).

Eila: Ateče's daughter. She was born to show Ateče what it really means to be a hero - to show him how it feels to defend and protect a family.


And a little bit about the style and the language:

The opening and closing lines of each short section are typical in stories told orally, in places like taverns, where people come and go all the time. They're like little summaries of what's happened so far.

The sentences which end with "so" are accompanied by a small mime or a gesture, or a special character-voice. They help break up the speech from the narration, and mark those parts of the story that the teller feels are most important.

The meaning of "they were in the house together" is probably clear from the rest of the text - it stands for "sexual intercourse". Men and women who were engaged weren't allowed to stand under the same roof until they were married in ancient Sogur (supposedly as a test of faithfulness), so when they eventually did, they would have quickly made up for the months of chastity between the engagement and wedding ceremonies.

"Lying under a blue garland" is a term used for "mourning those who were killed/murdered". It has its origins in the custom of hanging a wreath of blue flowers over a bed, as a charm against dying in one's sleep.

Putting a stone outside the door to one's home is somewhat like putting up a notice saying "this house is unclean". Death is a very messy business in Sogur; for reasons of hygiene, bodies are not kept under the same roof for more than a day, and two months must pass before the house can be declared both spiritually and physically "clean".


And finally, in case you didn't get the story: Ateče went travelling with Mbandža, to learn how to become a hero. His emotions kept getting in the way of his training, so he eliminated them until he was emotionless. This, unsurprisingly, greatly upset his mother. She cried and cried, and Ateče went on a journey to try and find out how to make her happy again, but he couldn't find the right thing. At the end of the journey he met the beautiful Ketha, who brought all his emotions back in a rush, and they made a baby together. When Ateče heard his new daughter crying, he remembered his mother crying, and went home to find her and make her happy. But she'd already cried herself to death over him, and so Ateče went back to Ketha. Mbandža tells him not to be upset about failing his mother; because of his wife and daughter, he has found the thing that would make her happy - his own happiness.



OK, I know it's long, but your appointments elsewhere can't be that important, surely?! :P

I'd love to know what you guys think of this, or if you think there's anything I didn't explain or that needs changing.


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 Post subject: Re: A Sogurian Tale
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 12:30 pm 
Niš
Niš
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Joined: Sun Jan 09, 2011 4:38 pm
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Location: Kiev, Ukraine
Folklore is not always possible to interpret. Tales, legends ... All this has many meanings.

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 Post subject: Re: A Sogurian Tale
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:14 pm 
Sumerul
Sumerul

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 2:38 am
Posts: 2974
Location: Israel
... Huh? :?


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 Post subject: Re: A Sogurian Tale
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 3:50 pm 
Lebom
Lebom

Joined: Thu Jun 23, 2005 9:26 pm
Posts: 154
Location: Seattle Metropolitan Area
At first I thought Mbandža was Ateče's father. I must have misread. Is Mbandža supposed to be given credit for forming Ateče into a hero by the Sogurians?

Also my first guess was that all the repetition was because it was originally sung, but using the "so"s as quotatives is novel


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 Post subject: Re: A Sogurian Tale
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 4:48 pm 
Sumerul
Sumerul

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 2:38 am
Posts: 2974
Location: Israel
Cockroach wrote:
At first I thought Mbandža was Ateče's father. I must have misread. Is Mbandža supposed to be given credit for forming Ateče into a hero by the Sogurians?
He is indeed. Soguria has always been a (occasionally satirical) fantasy world full of heroes and clichés, but this story was (IIRC - necromancy much?) meant to be a slightly different look at the effects hero-questing (which is a genuine occupation there) can have on family life.


Cockroach wrote:
Also my first guess was that all the repetition was because it was originally sung, but using the "so"s as quotatives is novel
It could be sung, I guess. I didn't think of that at all - maybe this and stories like it are sung by professionals in palaces, but the peasantry prefers poetry.


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