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View Full Version : Sources of Races in today's media


Greendra
01-13-2005, 02:11 AM
<DIV>All of our RPG games and many of our fantasy books and movies use the same races (Human, Dwarf, Elf, Orger, Troll etc.)</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>Many of these races have origins in European mythology and have, overtime time, evolved into our current day versions of races.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>I was curious about  which mythologies were the source of which races and my internet investigation lead to some surprising results.  (I don't have the links handy but google will help if you wish to investigate).  For example,  given that all Dwarves seem to speak with a scotish accent I was startled to find that Dwarves come from Norse  not Celtic mythology.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>Tolkein is credited with elaborating and rejuvinating many races but these races existed well before Tolkein was born.  For example Shakespeare  wrote about witches and fairies in the 16th century.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>Celtic Mythology</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>Fairies</DIV> <DIV>Elves</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>Norse Mythology</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>Dwarf</DIV> <DIV>Ogre</DIV> <DIV>Troll</DIV> <DIV> Gnomes</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>I don't recall  Norse mythology but Celtic mythology writes about elves as being small and mischievous and living in folks homes.  It's hard to trace the logic back to how these particular creatures came to be.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV>

Kilo
01-13-2005, 11:09 AM
The elves in EQ2 and most MMOs are taken from the mythology that Tolkien created, have little resemblance to Celtic elves.In Norse Mythology, trolls were more of a Goblinoid creature. They stole children and hated noise. Ogres were giants who make storms and earthquakes. The Dwarves, were kind of warped to be a race of drunk miners, maybe stemming from their role in Norse mythology to be mainly smiths for the Gods, they lived underground, also. Gnomes, referred to as Kobolds in some variations of Norse mythology, were little guys who lived near barns and would help you if you treated them well.Some I can see how they made it into today's vision of them, but some of them are pretty hard to grasp how it happened.

Nem
01-13-2005, 11:40 AM
<DIV>Loved this post and just wanted to elaborate a little.</DIV> <DIV>Its been a long time for me since I actually did any research on "modern" vs. ancient mythology but keep in mind that most of the "modern" western mythologies are based on the histories of the three most influential cultures in the west. These three (two of which are mentioned by the OP) are the Celts, the Norsemen  and the Romans.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>From the Celts as origianlly stated you get the Fairies and Elves as well as unicorns</DIV> <DIV>From Norse culture you have the dwarves, ogres, trolls, gnomes (i know im repeating) as well as part of the  god patheon concept and seafaring themes seen throughout modern fantasy mythology. </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>And finally the Romans contributed the Giants (Titans), they coined the phrase Barbarian, most of the way that fantasy gods are written are influenced by Greek/Roman mythology, as well as Centaurs (i think) and the concept of the Pegasus. </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>Part of the reason for the modern day overlap is that these three cultures had a lot of contact with each other mostly through conquest. Celtic mythology spread most recently through the 15th-19th century growth of the British empire. Norse mythology spread earlier and more sparatically through the various explorations and conquests of the Vikings. While the Roman empire is the oldest influence since they took over pretty much every country in the west between Britian and Egypt.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>As for Dwarves having a scottish accent, well thats largly a very modern interpretation of the race, but Scottland, Ireland and Britian all have a very long history of being victims of Viking raids so thats probably where that came from. </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>And for anyone wondering about William Shakespere's interpretation of Elves and fairies pick up a copy of "A Midsummer Nights Dream."   </DIV>

To
01-13-2005, 01:02 PM
<DIV>You guys are right on alot of stuff, but Elves are a important part of Norse mythology too. They are counterparts too humans almost, inhabbiting other worlds of the tree of life. They are closer too the gods then men... and inhabbit lands with other creatures like dwarves and giants I believe. </DIV>

Greendra
01-13-2005, 06:05 PM
<DIV> </DIV> <DIV>From what I recall,  and this is  more conjecture and opinion based on what I read.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>Medieval peoples were highly superstitious.  Celtic, Norse, Roman and Greek mythology predates Christianity but Christianity did not completetly remove the influence of those cultures.    For exmple,  our superstituous sayings about black cats crossing our path,  lines on the sidewalk, walking under a ladder are all, I believe, Celtic and all persist to an extent today.   Halloween is a celtic festivel that persisted through Christian conversion.  </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>Arguably, if you wanted to sell a new religion you were probably wise not throw out all vestiges of the existing theology, but rather incorporate certain themes that fit in context of what you were selling.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>But back to the orgins of races,  how did people invent elves, dwarves, gnomes etc.....  My view, based on what I read, is that as superstitious people,  they tried to ascribe blame for all the little oddities in day to day life.  The door is opens on its own,  a jug of milk spills for no reason, the farm tool I put down is not there anymore.   It's not a stretch to have some devil fearing surf blame some mischievous little person who you never see but is there causing grief in your life.     </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>How did the little person become an elf, gnome, dwarf or fairy?    </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>That is the harder question where I get stuck in my research.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>Gnomes and Darves are short small humans in looks and there are RL dwarfs that were probably models.   (I wonder how many medieval fathers got upset with their wives thinking they'd been unfaithful with the local dwarf if they had a dwarf child? Lol)</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>Fairies I always thought you humanize a dragon fly, a pretty big bug, and you get a fairy.  Thats about how big fairies are sometimes depicted.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>It's not too much of  stretch to soften a devil and get a good or not so evil devil like being and call it an elf.  Rember, Celtic elves are mischievous not nobel like Tolkein elves.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>......Well those are my beliefs,  does anyone have any input on this ......I'm curious.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV>

Deltree_c
01-13-2005, 06:47 PM
<DIV> <DIV> <DIV><A href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Fictional_species" target=_blank>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Fictional_species</A> </DIV> <DIV>Wikipedia entry on fictitious species.  With a little digging you can find plenty of sources.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>Love the Wikipedia. Worship the Wikipedia.  (Well I do anyway.)</DIV></DIV></DIV>

Galenwo
01-13-2005, 11:33 PM
Yea pretty much know all about elves {called alfs in norse}, dwarves {also alfs.. yea that kinda screws with your noggin eh}, trolls and a lot of other landwrights. Also ive never heard of elves in celtic mythology, they are part of the norse mythology mind you. Also elves are not little things.. little things do not run into churches and shove the wife over their shoulders and bolt for forests.. and you dont normally find men falling for little pixies who then vanish into the elven lands never to be heard of again. Also dwarves are dead people who where ususally very fond of money, drwaves are also meant to be black and turn to stone if exposed to the sun, just like trolls.I would just like to add this side note: As part of the heathen, pagan and reconstructionist religious community i know a lot of people {and im also talking about me here} in those communities that honour and believe in the land wrights as much as much as christians honour and believe in jesus, they aren't dead myths.<p>Message Edited by Galenwolf on <span class=date_text>01-13-2005</span> <span class=time_text>10:34 AM</span><p>Message Edited by Galenwolf on <span class=date_text>01-13-2005</span> <span class=time_text>10:34 AM</span>

Redorio
01-13-2005, 11:49 PM
<DIV>Well as for dwarves having Scottish accents...</DIV> <DIV>1) Never read any of the books with Bruenor battlehammer ? <img src="/smilies/8a80c6485cd926be453217d59a84a888.gif" border="0" alt="SMILEY" /> IIRC R A Salvatore had a Scottish relative and thus how that influence came about.</DIV> <DIV>2) Scots regiments, the Black Watch in particular I think, got the nickname of "The Poison Dwarves" during World War2, because of the poverty endemic then the Glaswegian folk tended ot be very small form malnutrition, but very mean.</DIV> <DIV>3) Scots had a reputation a shard drinking, tough and often mechanical or engineering folk.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>And well, it just fits, don't it? <img src="/smilies/8a80c6485cd926be453217d59a84a888.gif" border="0" alt="SMILEY" /></DIV> <DIV>*4 1/2 foot tall maniac swinging an axe says*:<BR>KISS MY AXE !</DIV> <DIV>:smileytongue:</DIV> <DIV> </DIV>

Greendra
01-14-2005, 01:37 AM
<DIV> <DIV>2) Scots regiments, the Black Watch in particular I think, got the nickname of "The Poison Dwarves" during World War2, because of the poverty endemic then the Glaswegian folk tended ot be very small form malnutrition, but very mean.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> If you're from Glasgow Red who do you follow ... Celts or Rangers .......I'll relay your comments to my barber from Glasgow tonight, but he'll ask who you follow  (not that he's rabid about, but he likes to know)</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>I've heard of the Black Watch,  I think there is a regiment of the same name from Nova Scotia.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>You're right about axes,  the preferred weapon of medieval Scotts as well as drinking, engineering (A. Bell)  and don't forget exploring,  half of Canada was explored by Scotts, just check the big river names sometime if its not an Indian name it's probably Scottish.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV></DIV>

NitroJagZ
01-14-2005, 02:41 AM
If your looking for some fiction that takes a cool twist on the mythology of norse culture surviving into modern America, Check out "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman.http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0380789035/qid=1105652437/sr=8-1/ref=pd_csp_1/102-3335432-1167347?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

Greendra
01-14-2005, 06:03 PM
<DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV><A href="http://www.[Removed for Content].com/%7Ehuathe/mythology.html" target=_blank>http://www.[Removed for Content].com/%7Ehuathe/mythology.html</A></DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>Link to an overview of Celtic Mythology....no mention of races but Druids and a great warrior "Conan".</DIV> <DIV> </DIV>

Alpheratz
01-17-2005, 08:47 PM
<DIV>mythology is not necessairly pure fantasy, there as been time when these creature probably walked on the earth.. <img src="/smilies/3b63d1616c5dfcf29f8a7a031aaa7cad.gif" border="0" alt="SMILEY" /></DIV>

Kaitar
01-18-2005, 12:50 AM
<DIV>Much of myth and fantasy has been influenced by things humans could not explain previously. For instance, most everyone agrees that the idea of dragons probably came from someone discovering the bones of a dinosaur centuries and centuries ago. Perhaps even thousands of years ago (there are dragons in almost every culture, or at least monsters much like dragons) but of course, back then they had no idea about dinosaurs.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>The history behind how a myth or fairy tale developed is almost as interesting as the myth itself. It's good food for thought.</DIV>

FilanFyretracker
01-20-2005, 11:04 AM
<blockquote><hr>Kaitar wrote:<DIV>Much of myth and fantasy has been influenced by things humans could not explain previously. For instance, most everyone agrees that the idea of dragons probably came from someone discovering the bones of a dinosaur centuries and centuries ago. Perhaps even thousands of years ago (there are dragons in almost every culture, or at least monsters much like dragons) but of course, back then they had no idea about dinosaurs.</DIV><DIV> </DIV><DIV>The history behind how a myth or fairy tale developed is almost as interesting as the myth itself. It's good food for thought.</DIV><hr></blockquote>kinda like Indians and their rain dances, back then noone know what made rain so it was assumed it was some god. course today UFOs have in a way replaced variable gods.

Izudin
01-20-2005, 05:04 PM
Interestingly, trolls are still very alive in Norway, you can find them on many signs there, and they are a great tourist attraction <img src="/smilies/8a80c6485cd926be453217d59a84a888.gif" border="0" alt="SMILEY" />I think they aren't considered evil however, contrary to how they behave in the world of Everquest.

Greendra
01-20-2005, 05:55 PM
<DIV>I was fascinated as I watched an interview on TVO with   Edward Rutherfurd the author of "The Princes of Ireland".    The book covers the histrory of Ireland from about 400 AD (Before St. Patrick) to about 1500AD (Henry VIII).  Though fiction, Rutherfurd is meticulous in his historical research and his accounts of its' people and events is considered historically accurate.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>Among other things in Irish History;</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>Dublin, Cork among other coastal cities were founded by Vikings</DIV> <DIV>Blue eye and red haired Irishmen exhibit their Viking lineage</DIV> <DIV>Black Irish were not Armada Spaniards but rather Spanish and Portugese fishermen who fished irish shores and cured and processed their cash in portside communities and did so for centuries.</DIV> <DIV>Dublin, for a time was the slave capital of Europe.....most of its' slaves being English Saxons...bet they don't teach that to English school children</DIV> <DIV>Scots were an Irish tribe that left Ireland to settle what eventually became Scotland</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>Perhaps this Viking influence can help explain how Norse Dwarves speak with Scotish accents....among other things</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>                                                                   </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV>

BLOODka
01-20-2005, 07:24 PM
<DIV>Heh spent my senior year in highschool reading about old Norse and Celtic mythos with Beowulf and other stories. So so interesting in my opinion. Giants were also prevalant in Norse mythos because they were basically the sons of Odin and Loki and Thor and such.</DIV>

Greendra
01-20-2005, 07:57 PM
<DIV>It's interesting, if Giants are of Norse mythos then is the old English tale "Jack and the Beanstalk" a reflection of norse mythology influencing English liturature?  I Wonder how old the "Jack and the Beanstalk" story is.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>....perhaps written by a Scott of Viking lineage.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>....We say today "The golbal village" as a reflection of how small and close the peoples in our world are.</DIV> <DIV>Perhaps "The north European village" is an appropriate reflection of how small medieval N. Europe was.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV>

BLOODka
01-20-2005, 09:12 PM
<DIV>Well the many times the Norse conquored the English and Celts between the hundreds B.C. and up to 1000 A.D. I wouldnt be suprised if the traditions and stories inter-mingled.</DIV>

Aion
02-04-2005, 01:11 AM
<DIV>Thought you all would find this ammusing <img src="/smilies/8a80c6485cd926be453217d59a84a888.gif" border="0" alt="SMILEY" /></DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV><A href="http://www.helsinginsanomat.fi/english/article/1101978425335" target=_blank>http://www.helsinginsanomat.fi/english/article/1101978425335</A></DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV>

mellowknees72
02-04-2005, 02:05 AM
<DIV> <DIV><EM>Well the many times the Norse conquored the English and Celts between the hundreds B.C. and up to 1000 A.D. I wouldnt be suprised if the traditions and stories inter-mingled.</EM></DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>This is definitely true...one very easy-to-find visual clue is the Celtic artistic style (Celtic knots and such) -- you'll find very similar designs of a Viking nature.  These two cultures had a lot of influence on one another, though I'm sure it wasn't a fun time to live through while they were co-mingling.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>On that note -- there is a legend I've heard floating around our annual Highland Games in these parts about the Thistle and why it's such an important flower in Scottish culture.  The legend is that some Vikings were invading a Scottish coastal town in the night, under cover of dark.  One of the Vikings stepped into a thistle bush and instantly felt the sting of the thorns and cried out.  The villagers were awoken by the commotion and were able to fight back the invaders.  The thistle, therefore, became a very important icon in Scottish culture.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>I can't even imagine all of the other things that intertwine between Norse/Celtic/Scottish/Irish/Welsh/English.  So much of it has become massed together over the centuries...too bad that world history classes when I was in school didn't cover this interesting stuff.  Maybe I would have paid more attention instead of sitting there writing over "Black Hole of Calcutta" and making it "Black Mole on my Butta" in my history book. <img src="/smilies/69934afc394145350659cd7add244ca9.gif" border="0" alt="SMILEY" /></DIV></DIV><p>Message Edited by mellowknees72 on <span class=date_text>02-03-2005</span> <span class=time_text>01:06 PM</span>

Aion
02-04-2005, 02:09 AM
<DIV>I though the thistle story involved Roman invaders.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>I could be wrong</DIV><p>Message Edited by Aion on <span class=date_text>02-03-2005</span> <span class=time_text>04:10 PM</span>

Okaythen
02-05-2005, 05:34 AM
<DIV>"too bad that world history classes when I was in school didn't cover this interesting stuff.  Maybe I would have paid more attention instead of sitting there writing over "Black Hole of Calcutta" and making it "Black Mole on my Butta" in my history book. <IMG height=16 src="http://eqiiforums.station.sony.com/i/smilies/16x16_smiley-tongue.gif" width=16 border=0>"</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>LOL - man, i love you!</DIV>

Redbed
02-12-2005, 06:49 PM
<DIV>Most of the odd creatures come from Greek Mythology.  The Fauns, Centaurs, Harpy's, Manticores, Nymphs, Dryads, Cyclops, Titans (Giants),  etc.  Some were [Removed for Content] children of the gods like Pegasus, some the spawn of Monstrouse Titans like the Hydra.</DIV>