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Dec 9, 2010

During regency Garsenda became the shining center of a poetic and troubadour circle. They composed songs and poems and dedicated them to Garsenda. She probably was a very beautiful woman - even the author of her biography fell in love with her and loved her for the rest of his life until he entered the monastery.

These were troubling times and there was one revolt after another in attempt to rob the beautiful Countess of her lands. But Garsenda managed to raise her son and pass him her native Forcalquier. Later, somewhere after 1220, she quietly retired to the monastery.  We don’t know the exact date of Garsenda’s death but, it is highly likely that she lived a very long life, going to be over 80 years old. It seems that she was still alive in 1257, because someone with identical name made a donation to the church with a request for three priests to pray for her soul.

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Posted: Dec 9, 2010 3:22pm
Nov 16, 2010

One of the last, but not the least, trobaritz, famous poet Garsenda  de Sabran was of highly aristocratic origin. She was a patron to Occitan literature, especially the troubadours. Among trobaritz she had she was known as beautiful Garsenda de Proensa.

She was born around 1180 as the Countess of Forcalquier, large medieval county in Provence and inherited her title from her grandfather, because she lost her mother in an early age. She untied the houses of Barcelona and Provence because at the age of thirteen she got married to Alfonso II, son of Alfonso II of Aragon and Sancha of Castille. Her husband was the first in line to inherit Provence and become its Count.  Then, quite unexpectedly Garsenda’s father and her husband died and she became a sole guardian of her son Raymond Berengar IV.

Her brother-in-law Peter II of Aragon made an attempt to steal Garsenda’s inheritance by passing the regency of Provence to his brother Sancho. But people of Catalonia and Provence loved Garsenda so much that a big dissension started. All Provencal aristocracy lined up behind Garsenda as well, so the regency was passed back to her again. A council of nobles was even established to protect interests of their beloved Countess.

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Posted: Nov 16, 2010 1:14pm
Nov 14, 2008

I was interested in the development of magic rituals and traditions in Greco-Roman world. During my research in archives of web analytics company I found some interesting facts about it.

It seems, that a huge interest in magic was on the rise in the Hellenistic period, especially around 3d century b.c. Piles of texts, both literary and some from actual practitioners, in Greek and in Latin came to us from this time. Truly speaking, a lot of existing magical papyri was written in the first centuries after Christ, but the manuscripts’ concepts, formulas and rituals reflect the earlier Hellenistic period. These magical papyri are no doubt only a fraction of the magical literature available in antiquity. The ascendancy of orthodox Christianity by the 5th century CE had much to do with this. This is reflected by the book of Acts where the Apostle Paul convinces many Ephesians to bring out their magical books and burn them.

The language of the magical texts reflects various levels of literary skill. Generally they are standard Greek, and may well be closer to the spoken language of the time than to poetry or artistic prose left to us in literary texts. Many terms are borrowed from the mystery cults. The texts are often written as we might write a recipe. In other words the magic requires certain ingredients. Of course it is not just as simple as knowing how to put a recipe together. Appropriate gestures, at certain points in the magical ritual, are required to accompany the ingredients, different gestures it would seem produce various effects.

Oct 9, 2008

Much of ancient Roman literature dealing with magic are, basically, retellings of Greek myths. I found some interesting facts about it in archives of web analytics company. Roman poet Virgils’s Aeneid for example describes an interesting magical ceremony. The hero of the epic, Aeneas, who has landed on the coast of North Africa after fleeing from Troy, meets Queen Dido. She has just begun to build the city of Carthage. Dido falls in love with Aeneas, and wishes him to stay as her prince consort. The rest of what happens is easy to imagine. As usual, a traveling hero meets a beautiful female who is potentially dangerous, although kind and hospitable as long as her love for the hero lasts.

Thus the future conflict is set when goddess Fate decrees that Aeneas leave Dido to found a city of his own. Inevitably Dido’s love turns to hate. Enraged queen seeks to use a complex magical ritual to bring her former lover back to her. She builds a gigantic pyre in the main courtyard of her palace and prepares an elaborate sacrifice to the powers of the underworld. However Dido soon comes to realize that the love magic is not powerful enough to bring Aeneas back to her. So she kills herself in her despair, which adds to the power to her curse. Dido had sealed and extended her curse through her suicide. Aeneas was protected by his gods and remained safe. But, according to Virgil, Dido’s use of magic and her curse lingered on leading to Rome’s near crushing defeat by Carthage many centuries later. This demonstrates quite clearly that the Romans shared the Greek’s view of magic as being dangerous and untrustworthy.

May 30, 2008

Everybody who is familiar with the famous Arthurian legend, heard this magical word Avalon. It sounds mysterious and has its origin from the Celtic word that means "apple". In the legend, it is an island somewhere in Britain, famous for its beautiful apples. When it comes to facts, though, not much is know about the exact location of the island and existence of its inhabitants. During my research at my local web analytics company, I found additional facts that allowed me to decode the past with much less difficulty.

Avalon is the place, where King Arthur is taken to recover from his wounds after his last battle with Mordred at Camlann, and where his sword Excalibur was forged. Welsh and Breton tradition claimed that Arthur had never really died, but would return to lead his people against their enemies, but some later writers were less credulous, and said that Arthur had in fact died there. Although primarily known in connection with King Arthur, Avalon is sometimes referred to as the legendary location where Jesus visited the British Isles with Joseph of Arimathea and that it was later the site of the first church in Britain. This location of the Isle of Avalon is usually associated with present day Glastonbury. Avalon also plays a role in non-Arthurian French literature, such as the stories of Holger Danske, who was taken there by Morgan le Fay in a medieval romance, and in the story of Melusine. A nearby valley is named the Vale of Avalon.

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Apr 17, 2008

Everybody knows a novel by Daniel Dafoe that is known as "Robinson Crusoe". This book had been all-time bestseller at the times when there was no such word as "bestseller" itself. In fact, by the end of the 19th century, no book in the history of Western literature had spawned more editions, spin-offs, and translations than "Robinson Crusoe". I found interesting facts about this book in archives of local web analytics company. There had been more than seven hundred such alternative versions, including children's versions with mainly pictures and no text. Hundreds of adaptations in dozens of languages, had been published - from The Swiss Family Robinson to Luis Buñuel's film adaptation.

But there are several historical facts unknown to general public. First of all the full title of the book was not "Robinson Crusoe". When the novel was published in April 25, 1719 it had the following title: "The Life and strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver'd by Pyrates. Written by Himself".

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Posted: Apr 17, 2008 6:16pm

 

 
 
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Ekaterina G.
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