1. When eurasian nomads first started making pants in the first millenium BC, they didn’t cut the cloth to shape, they wove the shapes they needed on the loom. Mostly rectangles, but still interesting.
2. Pants were a very elaborate garment at the time! When humans first started weaving and wearing cloth, clothes were pretty much “giant rectangle that you wrap around your body and sometimes a belt”. Then, people started making tunics and tunic derivatives, which is basically another rectangle, but this time with a hole for your head and sometimes sewn up the side. Now you have TWO pieces of clothes: the rectangle with a hole, and the bigger wrappy rectangle. This covers like 90% of ancient clothes, including the Roman toga and tunica. So pants, which covered your legs individually, were very ???? to ancient mediterranean people.
3. Otzi, an austrian guy who lived ~3300 BC, was found frozen in the Alps, wearing “pants”, consisting of two individual leg-sleeves made of animal skins with the fur inwards, and a loincloth. The legs of the “pants” tied on to a belt.
4. This is a similar setup to European medieval hose, except that hose didn’t have fur, and also had footies. Also, the whole separate-legged pants things is why our modern word ‘pants’ is plural, even though today it’s one garment.
5. Pants enabled a big leap in military technology- chariots to cavalry. Pants means you can ride a horse and still have your genitals intact afterwards. Turns out, sticking people on top of horses is much more effective than having the horses drag the people around behind them.
6. In like ~300 BC, the Chinese were having massive amounts of trouble with the pants-wearing, cavalry-having Eurasian nomads. Then, some guy had the brilliant idea of making everyone wear pants instead of robes, and proceeded to drive back the nomads and unite China.
7. The Romans and Greeks considered pants to be barbaric and feminine. But having muscular legs was very masculine. Some men were known for wearing ridiculously short tunics to show off their thighs. Marc Antony once mooned everyone by accident because he was wearing a miniskirt and no pants. Very manly.
8. Peter the Great decided that Russia had to be more like the rest of Europe, so he implemented some really strict policies, including a beard tax and mandatory pants. Yes, you could be punished if you didn’t wear pants.
9. The fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent was a major factor in making it acceptable for women to wear pants in public, which wasn’t really a culturally accepted thing until almost the end of the 60′s. In 1966, he debuted on the runway the first women’s tuxedo, which was met with a very ‘meh’ critical reception at the time, but is now considered one of fashion’s most influential works.
10. In the UK, ‘pants’ specifically refers to underpants.
bonus fact: it’s really not that hard to put pockets on pants, but so many designers seem incapable of figuring it out.
In 1983 some construction workers near Kojindani, Japan were busy building a logging road when they stumbled upon one of the greatest archaeological finds of Japanese history. The area around Kojindani is known for many Yayoi Period ruins and sites, however this find would become a national treasure of Japan. Discovered at the site was a hoard of bronze weapons, 358 swords, 16 spearhead and halberds, as well as 6 bronze bells. The Yayoi Period (300 BC - 300 AD) is a little known period of history and not a lot of written records exist from the era. The Kojindani sword find is important for fleshing out a little known era of Japanese history.
The swords themselves were found stashed in eleven rows, almost as if in storage.
None of the swords or other weapons were sharpened, leading to the theory that they might not have been actual weapons but ceremonial pieces. They could also have been blanks, saved to be sharpened some time in the future. Each measure between 50 to 53 cm’s long (19 - 20 inches). Today the entire collection is housed in the Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo. At the Kojindani sight itself the swords, spearheads, and bells have been replaced with realistic looking replicas.
• despite what you think, he won’t be that geek with a book in his hand at the back of the room
• cannot and will not go to a party by himself “come on Brian we’re gonna turn up”
• he wouldn’t be caught dead wearing anything that’s “in” so you’ll see lots of baggy sweaters and ripped jeans (jae it’s 90° wyd)
• pretends like he’s not having the best time of his life while watching Wonpil crank it on the dancefloor
• gets hit on by like 8 different people, but refuses to dance with anyone of them unless they brought him a slice of pizza
• you’ll see him pulling up with the crew in his mom’s car *vintage* with sunglasses and all
• loses the other guys like halfway through a dance battle and ends up winning $300 bc everyone bet against him
• challenges Wonpil to a dance battle and you swore you’ve never been to a more lit party…*somewhere in the JYP building* “mark something is wrong”
• goes hella hard whenever Nicki Minaj is playing and almost loses a rib, don’t ask
• you’d think he’s drunk like a couple hours in, but he’s babysitting a beer bottle bc he’s gotta drive everyone home :)
• listen he’s too stressed out from studying and writing new songs, Jae would have to drag him out to have a fun time
• wants to stay by everyone’s side the whole time but decides to go and chat up that one cutie who’s been eyeing him
• turns out they just wanted Dowoon’s number…….sigh *cue emo Brian reciting Drake’s lyrics*
• goes to the bathroom like 10 times to check his hair but regrets it “ok I’m gonna pretend like I didn’t just see 7 pairs of shoes in that stall”
• ends up watching cat videos with the party host bc yolo
• there are approximately 9.7 people who are in love with him ever since stepping inside
• everyone is blinded by his smile but they don’t know what he’s smiling for and tbh…I don’t think he’s closed his mouth in the past 20 min
• ends up killing it on the dancefloor, but is beaten by the undefeated champion, Sungjin
• can’t catch a break bc everyone’s trying to chat him up and use sexual pick up lines, poor boy is scarred “Well what else am I supposed to do with groceries, throw them away??? Ofc I’m gonna eat them :(”
• he’s about to leave but gets lit af when “hero” comes on and the sprinkler is his go-to move
• he barely has any party vibes before someone goes and asks for his number
• tries to remain polite but tbh, something must’ve been put in his drink bc he’s feeling extra sassy and he’s having none of your bs
• “for the last time, I just wanna dance and no, I don’t want your number. Frankly, those shoes are last season so don’t offend me”
• for some reason is doing jello shots with a 40 year old by the pool and is having the best time
• *accidentally* trips Sungjin into the water bc he almost spilled his drink on him while Nicki Minaj was playing, RIP
I had a request today for a post organizing musicals by their time period rather than by when they were actually written. So, here you go! Some of these dates are estimated, some are based on their source material, and some are actually said in the musical. (Ex. “This is 1922!”, Thoroughly Modern Millie)
If you have any musicals you’d like to add, just message me! There were so many I wasn’t sure about, and so I left out for safety–if you are an expert on the show and want it added, let me know! I’d love to fill this list out even more. If you think I’ve gotten a date wrong or think you could specify a date that is listed broadly here (Ex. you know a more defined time period than generalized 20th century), send me a message as well–I want this to be as accurate as humanly possible, and I am ready and willing to correct any mistakes. Enjoy!
My world is set in what would be BC in our world - around 300 BC, give or take. But how do I make that clear without having real life cultures that existed at that time? I want the readers to know we're not in your typical middle ages setting, but even further back in time, but can only come up with no technology/inventions that were made later.
There is quite a difference between the tech of, say, Ancient Greece or China and the Middle Ages (5th-15th century AD). What you’re going to want to do is pick out a few elements of the Middle Ages that people heavily associate with that time and leave it out, even if it would technically fit. In the same way, focus on elements of ancient times, the Iron Age, that people really associate with that time period and play those up, while also implementing your own things.
One of the largest macro differences would be that during ancient times, in many ways the world was more connected. Before the Dark Ages and The Crusades, there was international economic trade in a way that there wasn’t again for many centuries…and that there certainly isn’t in our fictional portrayals of the medieval world.
Here are a few examples of things that you could use to set your ancient civilizations apart from standard medieval settings:
Dictatorship and democracy rather than monarchy and, especially, feudalism.
Leather or iron-banded armor instead of scaled or steel-plated armor (almost complete lack of alloys)
There were two types of irons: meteoric iron and terrestrial iron. Meteoric iron can be shaped without smelting and was used for hundreds of years before the Iron Age, so it would be common. Terrestrial iron wasn’t popular until they figured out an easy way to make furnaces hot enough to melt it.
Steel swords and armor did exist, but it was far more expensive and not common. Most weapons would have used wrought iron.
No gunpowder, so no cannons or the like.
Writing on vellum, tablets, and papyrus rather than parchment or paper
Limited in food options, as crossbreeding plants had not yet taken shape
Overwhelming polytheistic governments as opposed to monotheism. Christianity (and all its European governmental forms) wasn’t a thing yet.
Architectural trends (Think Pantheon not cathedrals; no arches or buttresses).
Art was not the same. (Sculpting, weaving, and other hardform art was more common); Far fewer leisure societies
International roads were just becoming a thing (thanks to Rome), but the infrastructure for moving large groups of people wasn’t unheard of.
When you’re talking about sizes of population (and armies), you can talk in millions and hundreds of thousands in a way that wasn’t true of the Middle Ages. When you’re looking at the Persian army, two million + isn’t incorrect. Whereas, many medieval armies couldn’t boast more than 50,000.
Hello, vinur minn! (I'm learning haha!) I have a question I've been thinking about since I've started reading the Poetic Edda, and delving into the stories. To what extent do you think Snorri's Christian background influenced his writings? Obviously, there are many parallels, and many of these parallels occur in many, many religions (ex: virgin births, Odin/Christ's sacrifices on the tree/cross and being pierced by pointy things, etc). (Part 1)
(Part 2) Natural overlap/ideas must be taken into consideration. But what about Christianity, and its influence on Snorri, specifically? Do you think that there are any particular stories or themes that are purely Norse? For example, from what I remember, the cyclical aspect (birth and rebirth of the world, the beginning, Ragnarok, and the cycle repeating) of the Norse religion is fairly unique compared to other more linear religions (such as Christianity). What are your thoughts in this? (Sorry the question is a little messy)
In sum: To what extent do you think Snorri’s Christian background influenced his writings? What about Christianity specifically? Do you think that there are any particular stories or themes that are purely Norse? What are your thoughts on this?
Velkomin(n), vinur minn! (Welcome, my friend!)
Without a doubt, his background and time influenced his writings a great deal, but not necessarily in an intentionally malicious way. Christianity inevitably played a considerable role in this (culturally), but not in a completely restricting way, either (especially for Iceland). Besides, discussing anything “pure” is quite tricky (if not impossible). Even the Prose Edda itself, as a work of literature, was influenced by Latin treaties (in terms of form and structure, but not necessarily in purpose). Furthermore, even the concepts of rebirth surrounding Ragnarok can be found in Greek mythology and in the Old Testament (both feature Great Floods), but even in the New Testament with Jesus’ return (which in itself is a form of a reborn world). They may have different ways of telling the story, but the essence is still shared (as you have noted). Despite this, Snorri seems to have actually managed to preserve some genuine Norse lore. It may not be in the same form that it once was, and it may not be “pure” to some fictional standard version that never actually existed, but there is truth within his work; he did not simply conjure up these tales from nothing. They have mixed with a later culture, but they derive from older roots.
But that’s just the simple, quick-and-dirty way of answering your questions. We have much more to discuss if I want my words and thoughts to be taken seriously. But do keep in mind that I am a historian, which means that my thoughts are based on historical areas (social, cultural, etc.) rather than strictly literary analysis. In other words, I have not broken down individual stories to discover what is Norse and what is not, but instead I have broken down Snorri’s life and society to discover what might have contributed and influenced the creation of the Prose Edda itself.
Snorri Sturluson: Keeping the Old Alive with the New.
To get into the depth of your questions, we need to first get a grasp for who Snorri was and what kind of world he lived in. What was his education? What influenced him? What was his purpose? How would his work have been received? The answers to these questions can be found both in his personal life and in the society in which his life took place.
Snorri Sturluson’s Life and Education.
Snorri was born at Hvamm in western Iceland around the year 1179 AD to a powerful family known as the Sturlungs. He was fostered at Oddi in southern Iceland after the age of three, partly due to the death of his father. The one who fostered him was Jón Loptsson, who was both a deacon and a chieftain, but also the grandson of the Latin-writing historian Sæmundr fróði (the Learned).(1) Although Jón was a religious man, he fought strongly against the solidification of the Icelandic Church throughout the later twelfth century.(2)
As for Snorri’s education, it does not seem that he was deeply familiar with Latin; he seldom uses it, even in quotation.(3) In the end, his learning “was mostly in native lore rather than continental European writings in Latin.”(4) What he did know about Latin concepts and theological ideas came from society, from clerical friends, such as Styrmir Kárason (a priest and historian), and from “vernacular preaching in churches.”(5) Although Snorri himself was not directly exposed to Latin learning (as a student), he was, at the very least, indirectly exposed to it (as a layman) through society.
The majority of the rest of his life is filled with secular politics (which we need not concern ourselves with too much), wherein he gained considerable wealth through marriage (to Herdís Bersadóttir) and acquired connections with powerful Norwegians (such as the young King Hákon and his father-in-law Jarl Skúli).(6) He was so involved with secular affairs, in fact, that he died in 1241 while ‘feuding’ with the also powerful Icelander Gizurr Þorvaldsson.(7) Yet, no matter how involved Snorri was with secular, native life and knowledge, he was a Christian and so was the majority of his society (which had been so for over two hundred years). This inevitably impacted his writing of Norse lore and myth, but how much so? In what ways did his writing of old material reflect this new society?
Snorri’s Writing: The Debate of Influence.
Ursula and Peter Dronke, Faulkes, and Margaret Clunies Ross have all “pointed to various Latin sources, Classical, Biblical or Medieval, as possibly contributing to Snorri’s understanding of the heathen religion.”(8) Andreas Heusler, an earlier historian from the early twentieth century, even rose the question of Snorri’s authorship of the Prologue and Gylfaginning completely, calling it (the Prologue in particular) ‘ein elendes Machwerk’ (‘a sorry piece of work’).(9) To further illustrate how Snorri deviated from other authors who were, in fact, steeped in knowledge of the Latin tradition, Anthony Faulkes offers this:
“For even more remarkable is the fact that none of the writers mentioned has been able to point to any verbal correspondence in Snorri’s work with a Latin source. It is only the concepts that can be said to be similar. He has no quotations from or references to non-Icelandic works, and unlike the priest Ari Þorgilsson he does not scatter Latin words in his text, or use Latin in his headings (Ari’s surviving work is labelled Libellus Islandorum). Though he has prologues like Latin writers, Snorri’s prologues do not include the same standard topics as those of writers in Latin (see Sverrir Tómasson 1988). In his well-known discussion of the importance of skaldic verse in the prologue to Heimskringla he directly contradicts the views of most Classical historians, who generally did not regard poetry as suitable for use as a historical source.”(10)
To continue on, Snorri briefly mentions in his Prologue that the gods came from Troy, which is a point often raised by those who say that his Prose Edda is ‘corrupted’ by Christianity. This is also known as euhemerism, a concept attributed to the Greek philosopher Euhemerus (c. 300 BC), and a concept that was “widespread in the Middle Ages, usually among historians (my emphasis).”(11) Instead of portraying the old gods as the devil in disguise, as most theologians would have, Snorri went the philosophical (historical) route. Furthermore, allegory was “all-pervasive in Latin writings during the Middle Ages,” but Snorri “does not interpret mythology allegorically, nor does he derive moral teaching from it.”(12) Instead, he speaks of them rather plainly; his account seems more like “a scholarly and antiquarian attempt to record the beliefs of his ancestors without prejudice” for the sake the skaldic art which was still alive in his day (but at risk of losing its older roots).(13) In further regards to Troy, Faulkes has this to say:
“So this way of reading mythology is closest to euhemerism: the Greek and Trojan heroes came to be regarded as gods after their deaths, their deeds were transferred into supernatural ones, and their names changed. It is nothing like the allegories of Latin tradition, and there is little or no moralisation. The writer of this passage, whether is was Snorri or not, had clearly come across allegory, but has not fully understood how it works (my emphasis). His allegorisation of the Greek story does not give it any coherent non-historical meaning. His equivalences are also mostly preposterous, and there are many mistakes or misunderstandings of the Greek story. It cannot be used as evidence that the author was greatly acquainted with Medieval Latin tradition.”(14)
In the end, when looking more closely at Snorri’s work, it is evident that he was not professionally trained in the Latin tradition. Instead, the Christian influences that made their way into Snorri’s rendition of Norse mythology do not come from education or learned ‘bias’, but rather from the influence of his society. Thus, it was not just Snorri’s own Christian background that influenced his writing; he was influenced by (and perhaps to a greater extent) the cultural environment in which he grew up and worked in. Snorri’s attempt to preserve the Old was true, but he inevitably mixed it with the New in order to ensure it survived by making old lore relatable to a drastically different world.
Snorri’s Cultural Environment: The Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries.
What determined the degree of Christian influence in his works, then, was not even an active desire to Christianize older material, but rather to rationalize it within the framework of his own, later time; he had to make heathen gods and stories appealing and useful to a Christianized culture.
To provide a bit of historical context, the Icelandic church had been consolidating throughout the twelfth century, before Snorri’s birth. Although the Icelanders had been Christian since around the year 1000, the real founding years of the Icelandic Church were during the years of Bishop Gizurr (1082-1118), the first true bishop of Skálholt.(15) The bishopric of Skálholt (which is fairly close to Oddi) is traditionally dated to having been founded in 1056. Another bishopric was then established at Hólar under Jón Ögmundarson (1106-21), who swiftly began a cathedral school there.(16) During this time, under Bishop Gizurr (and beyond), Christianity began to expand. In 1096, tithing was introduced to Iceland, and by 1133, Iceland had its first monastery (and would gain six more by the end of the medieval period) at Þingeyjar in Húnavatnsþing; in 1186, Iceland’s first nunnery was established at Kirkjubær in Skaftafelsþing.(17)
Even before Snorri’s birth, Christianity was rapidly being embraced and expanded by Icelandic society and culture. Oddi, where Snorri was fostered, was not only near Skálholt, and thus inevitably exposed to its cultural and learning environment, but also regarded as a place of learning with a latin school.(18) Although Snorri himself likely did not learn at such a school, he would have been influenced by those who had, and the ideas that flowed in that region as a result.
I suppose the question we must turn to, then, is how did goðar (chieftains, of which Snorri was a part) adapt to the presence of Christianity? How did Christianity transform their role, and how, then, did it influence them?
Before Christianity, the goðar were also pagan priests. Although it is not known when goðar began to seek Christian learning, it is not unreasonable to assume that they maintained their dual role as both social and religious authorities by, to put it simply, switching gods.(19) As a result, lay aristocracy began to intermingle with the tasks often reserved to Churchmen in continental Europe. Iceland soon felt tension as some Church authorities began to push for a separation, which began in the late twelfth century (especially with St. Þorlákr) and early thirteenth century. This struggle is what Snorri grew up with, and the Church never quite separated itself from lay society during his time.
Snorri himself was far more concerned with secular life than religious learning, but he was inevitably exposed to both worlds given his position and upbringing. Furthermore, the world that he was communicating to was now deeply Christian, which is stressed by the fact that secular authorities had even embraced Christianity into their domain; it was more and more a part of everyday life. Thus, even though his formal Christian background was quite meager (educationally speaking), he lived within a culture and society that now communicated through a different lens. It was this cultural lens, more than his own personal background, that truly influenced his work. Since this lens now dominated their worldview, it obscured any old material that passed through it. Such is the natural process for historical information, for even today the lens of present experience filters and ‘alters’ meaning, interpretation, and significance.
So, if not to Christianize older material, why did Snorri write the Prose Edda? To what benefit did he see old lore to such a Christianized culture and society? Anthony Faulkes has words better than I on this, and I would like to close our discussion with them:
“Sagas and poetry on native subjects were not the only sorts of writing cultivated in Iceland. Literature of other kinds was penetrating the north from southern Europe. From early in the twelfth century at least, saints’ lives and other Latin works had been known and soon translated in Iceland. Stories of love and chivalry, like that of Tristram and Yseult, and ballads, were becoming known and popular in Scandinavia. It is likely that Snorri Sturluson, traditional aristocrat as he was, would have foreseen that the traditional poetry of the skalds was to be superseded on the one hand by the writing of prose sagas (an activity in which he himself engaged, ironically with greater success that his poetical compositions), and on the other by new kinds of poetry in different metres and on new themes. It seems that he wrote his Edda as a treatise on traditional skaldic verse to try to keep interest in it alive and to encourage young people to continue to compose in the traditional Scandinavian oral style, although in form the work itself is highly literary and owes much to the newly introduced tradition of Latin learned treatises.”(20)
In the end, it is difficult (if not impossible), to sort out what is “purely” Norse against what is Christian influence from his contemporary cultural environment. What we do know, however, was that Snorri gathered genuine Norse lore and, through a new form of expression, brought it into conversation with a Christian culture; he aimed to make old lore relevant to a new, Christianized society. And so, to answer your question, I would say that his personal background influenced him less than his society did, and that Christianity only dramatically influenced his work in terms of form and presentation. Even Snorri himself should have known that such lore once orally told never had a concrete, singular form; but his writing had to subject it to such stagnancy if it were to be preserved amid the influx of ‘foreign’ culture; his society was becoming more and more literate, and thus becoming less oral. He did what he felt necessary to promote and educate the new, younger generation in the old, traditional art form of skaldic poetry.
That said, he was not hostile to his contemporary society; he was not a pagan, nor was he promoting a resurgence in paganism. In fact, if anything truly influenced his writing of Norse myth, it was his purpose. His goal was not to create an objective history of Norse lore, but rather to make it useful to a new society. Even today, most historians do not find an objective history plausible. Historians create narratives from a chaotic past; we make stories out of scrambled evidence that we can relate to. Snorri was no different. He gathered scattered bits of tradition and brought them together into a narrative that himself and his contemporaries could better understand and appreciate.
Með vinsemd og virðingu, (With friendliness and respect,) — Fjorn
ENDNOTES: 1. Anthony Faulkes, “Snorri Sturluson: his life and work” (London: Viking Society for Northern Research), 1. 2. Ibid. Secular and religious (Christian) life were strongly intertwined in Iceland. The Church began to push for autonomy, but the secular ‘lords’ pushed back against them. 3. Ibid. He easily could have been, but our historical records do not show us enough to be confident in making such an assertion. 4. Ibid. 5. Ibid. 6. Ibid., 1, 3. 7. Ibid., 3. 8. Anthony Faulkes, “The influence of the Latin Tradition on Snorri Sturluson’s writings,” (London: Viking Society for Northern Research), 1. 9. Ibid. 10. Ibid., 2. 11. Ibid., 3-4. 12. Ibid., 5. 13. Anthony Faulkes, “Introduction,” in Edda (London: Everyman, 1995), xviii. 14. Faulkes, “The Influence of Latin Tradition…,” 7. 15. Gunnar Karlsson, The History of Iceland (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000), 38. Technically speaking, Ísleifr was the first, but he was “hardly more than a missionary bishop.” Ari Þorgilsson credits Gizurr as being the one who “laid down as law that the see of the bishop that was in Iceland should be at Skálholt, whereas before it had been nowhere…” 16. Ibid. 17. Ibid., 39. 18. Ibid., 41. 19. Ibid., 40. 20. Anthony Faulkes, “Introduction,” in Edda (London: Everyman, 1995), xiii.