February 10, 2011

Snack time

The theme here lately is Beowulf, although there are also links and comments about current events. If you like this kind of thing, please click on earlier posts. I think it's about time for the monster to eat somebody.

Mead halls must have been interesting if not sanitary places in old North Sea raiding societies. They were generally big enough to hold a lord, his retainers, and any associated women. They were places of feasting, drinking, boasting, and listening to bards and were associated with comfort, fellowship and safety--a bright spot in a dark world.

At least some of the time, they were places of sleeping as well. Drink enough mead--not my favorite potable beverage by the way--and you'll doze off or pass out. It was just on such an occasion in the great mead hall Heorot that the monster Grendel makes his first raid. In Seamus Heaney's translation,

...he came upon them, a company of the best
asleep from their feasting, insensible to pain
and human sorrow. Suddenly then
the God-cursed brute was creating havoc
greedy and grim, he grabbed thirty men
from their resting places and rushed to his lair,
flushed up and inflamed from the raid,
blundering back with the butchered corpses.

I'd call that a major midnight snack. The raid was a major Nike stomp for Hrothgar, king of the Spear-Danes. Heorot was a monument to his success and vanity, but after a few raids, the hall was deserted. Another translation (by Howell D. Chickering, Jr.) puts it this way:

Then it was easy to find a few men
who [sought] rest elsewhere, at some distance,
slept in the outbuildings, once the full hate
of the mighty hall-server was truly told,
made clear as a beacon by signs too plain.
Whoever escaped kept further away.

I think I'd probably do the same.

THEN AND NOW. Here's a look at how income inequality has changed. Sneak preview: growth in incomes is concentrated at the top.

HEALTH CARE REFORM will strengthen the US economy in at least four ways, according to this blog post from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

URGENT FROG UPDATE here. Sneak preview: this one has teeth.

HOW DOES A FLEA FLEE? Not from the knee.


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