Monday, May 25, 2009


At long last catching up on some posts. This is a strange set of coincidences that only has a smidge of medieval content, but here goes anyway.

I'm reading a book recommended by Favorite Spouse, in fact she made me promise that once the diss was done and in that this was the book that I would read. Well, I did promise, though I didn't actually start any book until pretty recently, and I'm now reading this one. I'll post on it later so I can render a full review.

But the topic of the book is in part about the voyages of Captain Cook in the Pacific. The chapter I'm reading now talks about the Maori and Cook meeting the first time in New Zealand in what is now called Poverty Bay.

The first serendipity is that on Saturday just as I was beginning this chapter, Favorite Spouse found a new TV show to entertain us. On the Spike channel is a show called "Deadliest Warrior" in which some computer guy, a medic, and another guy pit two of histories warriors against each other. The categories they measure are: short, medium, and long range weapons, defense, strength etc, and they enter numbers into a computer program, and then they run 1000 simulated battles and based on the outcome of the battles, declare a winner. We viewed five episodes, Viking vs. Samurai, Spartan vs. Ninja, Pirate vs. Knight, Green Beret vs. Soviet Spetnaz, and last but not least, Maori vs. Shaolin. Those of you who recall the TV series Kung Fu will recall that Kane the hero was a Shaolin. SO I learned all about Maori weapons and psych warfare....and then picked up my book to read about Cook encountering the Maori and those very weapons. It was much easier to visualize the weapons having just seen them on TV.

The second serendipity is that I've been reading--well, ok, reading isn't the word--, uh, wrestling my way through the readings E. V. Gordon's Old Norse textbook in an effort to gain greater facility in the language. I'm on the section from Eirik the Red's saga where the saga writer details the various encounters with Native Americans: curiosity, trade, battle. It is interesting to note the similarities in the encounters between Erik and and his men with the Americans and Cook and his men with the Maori. Certainly there are differences in detail, but overall the encounters are not unlike each other and its hard not to think of Erik when reading Cook and vice versa at the moment.

No comments: