Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Men in Tights Vs. Wall Street

How to pop the Bailout Bubble?
With some Occupy Wall Streeters dressing up as Robin Hood lately and promoting "steal from the rich and give to the poor" as a course of action, I began to wonder about the true character of The Hooded One. Of course to do this one must rely on academics, and I did: "The oldest references to Robin Hood are not historical records, or even ballads recounting his exploits, but hints and allusions found in various works. From 1228 onwards, the names 'Robinhood', etc. occur in the rolls of several English Justices. Between 1261 and 1300, there are at least 8 references to 'Rabunhod' in various regions across England. The first mention of a quasi-historical Robin Hood is given in Andrew of Wyntoun's Orygynale Chronicle, written in about 1420 and placing him under the year 1283, when he is 'commendyd gude'. Robin is later represented as a fighter for de Montfort's cause. This was in fact true of the historical outlaw of Sherwood Forest, Roger Godberd, whose points of similarity to the Robin Hood of the ballads have often been noted. In the medieval period itself, Robin Hood already belongs more to literature than to history. In an anonymous song called Woman of c.1412, he is treated in precisely this manner - as a joke, a figure that the audience will instantly recognise as imaginary. The earliest surviving text of a Robin Hood ballad is "Robin Hood and the Monk", preserved in a Cambridge University manuscript which was written shortly after 1450. The first printed version is A Gest of Robyn Hode (c.1475), a collection of separate stories which attempts to unite the episodes into a single continuous narrative. After this comes "Robin Hood and the Potter", contained in a manuscript of c.1503. "The Potter" is markedly different in tone from "The Monk": whereas the earlier tale is "a thriller" the latter is more comic, its plot involving trickery and cunning rather than straightforward force. Other early texts are dramatic pieces such as the fragmentary Robyn Hod and the Shryff off Notyngham (c.1472). The character of Robin in these first texts is rougher-edged than in his later incarnations. In "Robin Hood and the Monk", for example, he is shown as quick tempered and violent, assaulting Little John for defeating him in an archery contest. No extant ballad actually shows Robin Hood "giving to the poor". In fact, his social status is often represented as that of yeoman, as shown by his weapon; he uses swords rather than quarterstaffs. The political and social assumptions underlying the early Robin Hood ballads have long been controversial. It has been influentially argued by J. C. Holt that the Robin Hood legend was cultivated in the households of the gentry, and that it would be mistaken to see in him a figure of peasant revolt. He is not a peasant but a yeoman, and his tales make no mention of the complaints of the peasants, such as oppressive taxes. He appears not so much as a revolt against societal standards as an embodiment of them, being generous, pious, and courteous, opposed to stingy, worldly, and churlish foes. Other scholars have by contrast stressed the subversive aspects of the legend, and see in the medieval Robin Hood ballads a plebeian literature hostile to the feudal order. In the early ballads he was a member of the yeoman classes, which included common freeholders possessing a small landed estate. From the 16th century on, the legend of Robin Hood became fixed as stealing from the rich to give to the poor." (Wikipedia)  I leave it to you to decide if the protesters are modern-day Robin Hoods.

The Good News:  Slovakia takes a stand on bailout buffoonery!  The mouse that roared.