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Ultimate “Romeo and Juliet” Quiz ~ 80 Questions

3 Jun

Any of my readers good old English majors or part of an English Literature class? ¬†ūüôā¬†

I’m teaching “Shakespearean Acting” this semester to a group of students participating in¬†an English speaking competition, and they are required to be familiar with several of William Shakespeare’s plays. Including the timeless classic¬†Romeo and Juliet.¬†

Part of our class is a very detailed, in-depth quiz on each of the stories, and I thought I would share them here for High School or College Students. You can use this to quiz your knowledge before an exam! ūüėõ¬†

Please note, I am not really asking about his writing style, quotes, or themes. This is just a quiz on the facts of what actually happens in the story. ¬†Be aware that questions range in level of difficulty ūüôā If you have other questions to add, please put them in Comments below!¬†

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Fact Questions

  1. Where is Romeo and Juliet set? (city and country)
  2. In the introduction, the chorus tells us that there are two families fighting in the city. What are their names?
  3. Which Family does Juliet belong to?
  4. Which Family does Romeo belong to?
  5. The two families have been fighting for years and years. Why are they fighting?
  6. What does “star-crossed” mean?
  7. When the story opens, the Prince of Verona, Prince Escalus, is extremely angry with the two families. They have been fighting for years, so why is he particularly angry at them now?
  8. What event sparks the big battle between the two families in the beginning scenes?
  9. Who are Gregory and Sampson?
  10. Benvolio initially tries to stop the fight between the two families. But eventually he joins in. Why does he change and start fighting?
  11. The Prince arrives and gives a harsh warning about the punishment if the two families continue fighting. What is his warning?
  12. Romeo did not come to the fight at the beginning. Where was he?
  13. His parents are worried about Romeo. What is he doing that has them concerned? Be specific
  14. His parents ask someone to go find Romeo and interrogate him as to the reasons for his melancholy. Who is this friend and what is their relationship to Romeo?
  15. Romeo tells us why he is so melancholy at the beginning. What reason does he give and who is the cause?
  16. What is Benvolio’s response to Romeo’s feelings for Rosalind? Does he support the match?
  17. We move scenes now to Juliet’s home, where someone is asked her father for Juliet’s hand in marriage.¬†Who wants to marry Juliet?
  18. Her father does not want to approve the marriage. What is his problem? How old is Juliet?
  19. Her  father finally gives permission, but it comes with two conditions. What are they?
  20. Lady Capulet and the Nurse go to tell Juliet about her engagement. How does Juliet respond? 
  21. The Nurse here tells an old story about Juliet as a little girl. What is that story?
  22. The Capulet’s are hosting an engagement party via a masquerade ball.¬†How do Romeo, Benvolio, and Mercutio learn about the party?
  23. Who is Mercutio. Is he related to Romeo?
  24. That night, the three men are sneaking their way into the party. Why is Mercutio going? Why is Benvolio going? Why is Romeo going?
  25. Mercutio is the cynic of the story.¬†What is his opinion about Romeo’s “true love” for Rosalind? What is his opinion of love and women in general?
  26. Who is Tybalt? How is he kin to Juliet?
  27. When they sneak into the party, Tybalt recognizes Romeo despite his mask. Tybalt wants to throw Romeo out, but someone stops him. Who and what 2 reasons do they give?
  28. How does Tybalt respond?
  29. Why is this moment in the story important?
  30. How do Romeo and Juliet actually meet?
  31. What is so surprising about their first meeting with one another?
  32. While watching her, Romeo says he wished he were something Juliet is wearing. What is it?
  33. Does Romeo  talk to Rosalind at the party?
  34. After the party, Romeo sneaks away from his friends and hides in Juliet’s home because he is “too in love to leave.” Where does he go?
  35. Romeo sees Juliet and hides while listening to her talk to herself about how she wishes things would go. What is Juliet wanting?
  36. Romeo comes out of hiding to confess his love to Juliet. Why?
  37. Romeo and Juliet makes some exciting plans for the next day. What do they plan to do?
  38. The Friar is not initially excited about Romeo’s feelings for Juliet. Why does not not believe their love is real?
  39. Romeo asks the Friar to marry them. Why does the Friar agree?
  40. Romeo meets up with Juliet’s Nurse to tell her what he needs Juliet to do. The Nurse flatters him by comparing the¬†what flower that Juliet speaks of so often?
  41. Juliet creates a fake excuse for going to the church and then secretly marries Romeo. What is her excuse?
  42. Who knows about the wedding besides Romeo and Juliet?
  43. We move to Mercutio and Benvolio out walking. Mercutio is laughing at Benvolio, who he says is a walking contradiction. What does he say is so funny about Benvolio?
  44. Why are Mercutio and Benvolio annoyed at Romeo?
  45. Benvolio brings bad news about Tybalt that he shares with Mercutio. What has Tybalt done?
  46. Romeo comes but refuses to fight with Tybalt. Why?
  47. Mercutio is furious at Romeo’s sudden “friendliness” to Tybalt. It’s more than just a feeling of betrayed friends.¬†What is the problem?¬†To understand this answer, you need to have some background into the cultural history.¬†
  48. Be specific. Exactly what happens when Mercutio dies?
  49. How does Romeo respond when Mercutio dies? What does he do?
  50. The Prince arrives, and learns about this new fight. Earlier he named the punishment for anyone fighting in his town. But now, for Romeo, he changes his mind. Why does the Prince change his punishment?
  51. What exactly is Romeo’s Punishment?¬†
  52. How does Romeo respond to his Punishment?
  53. How does Juliet respond initially when she hears the news about Tybalt?
  54. An important moment in the story, Juliet and her Nurse have a fight here. What is the fight about?
  55. Friar Laurence has a plan to help Romeo out of trouble after Tybalt and Mercutio die. What does he tell Romeo to do?
  56. The night after they are married, Romeo sneaks into Juliet’s room to see her before he leaves town. How does he get in to her room?
  57. Juliet’s parents and her fiancee decide to move the wedding closer. How much time is there until the wedding now?
  58. Are Juliet’s mother and nurse excited or sad about the wedding?
  59. How does Juliet respond? 
  60. After Romeo is banished and her marriage is moved up, Juliet sneaks out to seek Friar Laurence’s advice. What excuse does she give her parents for why she goes to the church?
  61. When Juliet goes to meet Friar Laurence for advice, she runs into someone else in the church. Who does she meet and what do they say to one another?
  62. What is Friar Laurence’s Plan?¬†What exactly is supposed to happen?
  63. Who finds Juliet’s body the next morning?
  64. The day Juliet dies was a special day for her. What big event was supposed to happen?
  65. After she meets Friar Laurence and gets the sleeping potion, Juliet goes home. What does she tell her parents she would do now?
  66. Why do her parents think Juliet died and who do they blame?
  67. In Act 5, Romeo is banished but we learn he has been having a bad dream recently. He is concerned. What happens in his dream?
  68. Why did Friar John fail in delivering the letter to Romeo telling him Juliet was still alive?
  69. Friar John was supposed to tell Romeo that Juliet was alive, but he fails. Instead someone else comes to Romeo and tells him Juliet is dead. Who tells Romeo that Juliet is dead?
  70. Romeo buys some illegal poison. Where did he get it and why did they sell it to him?
  71. When Romeo goes to visit the tomb, someone else is already there. Who was it?
  72. This visit thinks Romeo has come¬†to the tomb for dastardly reasons.¬†What does he/she think Romeo plans to do at Juliet’s tomb?
  73. In the end, what happens to Count Paris? 
  74. How does Romeo die?
  75.  Who is alive and present when Juliet wakes up from her sleep of the dead?
  76. How exactly does Juliet die?
  77. In the end, who is left to tell the prince about what happened?
  78. When he arrives, Lord Montague says something terrible has happened to Romeo’s mother. What is it?
  79. How are the parents going to honor their children’s deaths?
  80. At the end, the Prince says everyone has been punished. How was He Punished?

History of Our World: The Chinese Origins and Foundations Myth

31 Mar

Beyond Yonder HillsUnlike¬†with Korea, China’s origin stories are¬†primarily¬†Creation Myths¬†(which tell of the origin of the world), rather than simply¬†Foundation Myths¬†(which more specifically relate the origin of a people, nation, or culture). ¬† Still, pinning down one final Chinese¬†myth about the origin of the world is an impossible task for even the best student of history. There are simply far too many varieties available, gathered from thousands of diverse cultural backgrounds and centuries upon centuries of oral story-tellers¬†offering their own unique twists and versions. Nonetheless, there are certain elements that carry through as shared¬†themes in the different tales.

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Mythology in China is rather special given the conflicting philosophies that pull and tug the stories in multiple directions. What many fail to recognize about the country is that it has at least 6 major religions/philosophical authorities working against one another. The first is the traditional animism or the belief that the earth or nature is alive and has a spiritual essence flowing throughout. Adherents believe that the plants, animals, and earth itself are alive and conscious. It is actually from this belief that most of the traditional origin myths come, since that is the oldest religion or philosophy. Following closely on its heels though is Taoism or Daoism, a religion based upon one of the oldest Chinese classics and book of divination called the I Ching. You will see some elements of Taoism within the origin myths as given because of its age and influence. Still, this religion found itself sharply in conflict with the Confucian and Buddhist philosophers on many occasions. Oddly enough, Buddhism in China seems to mix elements of both Taoism and Confucianism although if frequently fought with them too. But it still offers its own unique twist to myth and legends. Then you have the ancestral worship affecting things. And of course the more recent impact of Christianity, Islam, and Atheism moving in.

The problem with the Chinese myths is the whole Taoism, Buddhism, Ancestral Worship, Animism, and Confucian elements. Sometimes they agree on mythology and come together. Other times they disagreed and re-wrote the old stories with their own variations. It just gets a little confusing. Luckily, the different origin myths were usually old enough that they came out of the Taoist-Animist mix and have many similarities that bring them together into 3 interesting tales. In fact, many seek to combine the three stories into one that flows together.

Variation #1 ~ The One Becomes Two

Some¬†Chinese mythology begins with the theory that the world was initially a giant ball of chaos, all swirling together. The chaos was made out of “Qi,” a sort¬†of gas or ‘energy,’ which-at the moment of the world’s beginning- suddenly split into two different elements. Some Chinese writers argue that this was an almost magical moment, with no sign of a creator. Others propose that it was triggered by a supernatural figure, and still others seem to suggest that the chaos was actually gods in conflict with one another themselves.

Regardless, the two elements that resulted were contrasts in masculinity and femininity, passion and passivity, hard and soft, dark and light, hot and cold.¬†In western variations, we label them Yin and Yang. However,¬†please bear in mind though that our “western¬†adaptations of Yin and Yang” are often not actually¬†primary in the belief systems of the majority of the Chinese. Not all of them were Taoist,¬†as noted above.¬†So while the Chinese myths may mostly agree that the original universal elements were dual in nature, they don’t necessarily all agree with the significance or religious aspect the Taoists have given to those features.

Variation #2: Pangu and the Hundun

The Pangu myth is one of those situations where the newer religions (in this case Taoism) added some stuff to the initial story so that it fit their point of view. Although it fits into the middle if you read the three versions as one story, it was actually the last one to appear in written mythology.

Once again,  the world begins with chaos and utter disorder, but this time the chaos was confined inside the Hundun. The Hundun was shaped like a giant egg, and inside Yin and Yang, male and female, good and evil, light and dark all writhed around in a complete mess.

Inside the the chaos, there slowly grew a giant dragon named Pangu. For centuries he lived and grew, lived and grew. Finally he became so large that he was able to shatter the Hundun egg into two. All the chaos inside spilled out, with the yin elements moving upward where they would become the heavens and the yang elements falling downward where it would become the earth. To keep the two from mixing again, Pangu resolved to stand in between them, holding them apart. Every day, Pangu grew ten feet taller, the earth ten feet bigger, and the heavens ten feet higher. Finally, after 18,000 years everything was as big as it was going to get. Pangu even added some creativity of his own by stomping on the earth to create the flat lands and using his hands to form some of the rivers.

Tragically, Pangu eventually reached the end of his life. As he did so, his body began to disintegrate over top of the earth. Breathing out his last, his breath transformed into the wind and clouds in the sky. His final words the thunder echoing over the land. The sweat and “bodily fluids” became rain. His eyes split into two-the left becoming the sun and the right becoming the moon.His skin became the earth and ground; His veins and muscles¬†hold the earth together. ¬†His arms, legs, and “extremities” were changed into the four compass points and five great mountain peaks (some later consider these to be part of the pillars Nuwa would later repair-see below). The blood and semen (yuck!) changed into water in the rivers and oceans. His hair became trees, plants, and stars. His teeth and bones the metal and rock. His marrows and insides the precious jewels like pearls and jade.¬†

According to this version, humans actually came from the less than pleasant origin of “bugs” or “fleas” that had lived upon his body. Caught by his breath on the wind as they fell to earth, they became alive and were the original humans. To be honest, some people believe that rather than these being the origins of modern humans, the people created here were more like the dwarves, fairies, and other more supernatural figures. For example, this legend would have you believe that Nuwa and Fuxi were created from him in a similar fashion.

Variation #3: N√ľwa¬†and Fuxi

The story of¬†N√ľwa and earth’s creation come mainly from ¬†ancient texts¬†such as the¬†Huainanzi, Chu Ci,¬†and¬†Shan Hai Jing.¬†This story has several variations, but they tell a pretty consistent story over all. If you watched the recent Chinese 2015 film “The Monkey King” (excellent watch for students of Chinese mythology),¬†you saw one version of¬†N√ľwa’s story.¬†

Some myths suggest N√ľwa and Fuxi were simply gods living upon the earth after its creation. Others claim that they were actually the children (grandchildren?) of Pangu himself. However, in literature, N√ľwa’s story came 6 centuries before that of Pangu. Nonetheless, N√ľwa and Fuxi are¬†depicted in ancient Chinese art as figures with the body of a snake and the top of a human. You can see an¬†ancient depiction of the two on the right. Theirs was a love story, and¬†one that is significant to the origin myth. Actually¬†N√ľwa’s story comes in two parts – the creation of humanity and the salvation of the world.¬†

1) The Creation of Humanity

When the earth and heaven were first divided, two supernatural figures¬†lived on the earth. The first was¬†N√ľwa and the second her brother Fuxi. Although they were related, they fell in love with one another and wished desperately for the chance to marry. However, they knew that this was unnatural and were unsure about whether it was appropriate. So Fuxi climbed one of the great mountains with¬†N√ľwa and they prayed. One story says they asked¬†that if the heavens approved of their love, then a great mist or fog would¬†gather. If the heavens disapproved, the fog would disappear. To their great joy, the mists of fogs grew very large and permission for their marriage was granted. Another story (the Shan Hai Jing) says that they got permission after they built two separate fires that morphed into one.

Some myths suggest that¬†N√ľwa created humanity with the help of her husband, but others suggest she worked alone. Either way,¬†N√ľwa got creative and began fashioning human figures out of a mixture of yellow earth, then ¬†after she became tired, she began using mud instead.¬†To help hold everything together she added some ropes or cording to make them stand up. She also gave them legs instead of her own tail and created men and women so they would recreate on their own. Finally, when her work was completed, she breathed life into the figures and created humans. Unfortunately, those made out of yellow earth were of higher quality and¬†were thought to be the forefathers of the aristocracy. The peeople made out of mud were more common and became the ancestors of the poor, working folk.

N√ľwa was delighted with her creation and loved them very much, seeing them as her children and treasures on the earth. So when they were in danger, she was willing to do anything to protect them.

2) The Salvation of the World

According to the most ancient of Chinese myth, the earth¬†originally had four separate corners, each of which held 1 or 2 pillars holding up the heavens. These pillars were the only point at which the heavens and earth were connected and had to be closely protected to keep the two from crashing into one another.¬†There was also a concern of the more¬†evil creatures using the pillars as a chance to¬†move up or down between the heavens and the earth.¬†It was during the peaceful time when the pillars were working that¬†N√ľwa and Fuxi created humans. But tragedy struck.

G√≤nggŇćng or Kanghui, one of the sea gods or sea serpents, unfortunately had the dubious notoriety of having gotten into various fights with the “good deities.” After losing one of the battles, he grew angered (or embarrassed–the myths aren’t quite sure) and broke one of the pillars (named Buzhou Mountain) in a fit of temper. As a result, the whole sky began falling in the northwest as the earth rose in the southeast. This caused the entire axis of the earth to shift and resulted in complete and utter chaos. Fires, Floods, Animals going Wild and eating people-everything¬†went haywire and N√ľwa¬†realized something had to happen if the world was to survive.

nuwa

The stories differ on what precisely¬†N√ľwa did to save the world,¬†but¬†most go with¬†the¬†Huainanzi’s version. Therein,¬†N√ľwa went and found five blue stones,¬†which she used to repair the broken sky (giving it the blue color). Then she ¬†cut of the four legs of the mythological turtle Ao and put them up as pillars to re-set the sky and earth in their places. She also killed off a black dragon who was helping to cause some of the chaos. It is unclear whether she survived her work- some myths have her dying as part of the final solution and sacrificing her body to reform the world. Others say that she lived in peace with Fuxi and helped establish the first Chinese government.

The Combination

Naturally, some chose to accept the stories as independent of one another- particularly since the addition of Pangu came so much later. The minorities are more inclined to accept the Pangu myth, while the larger groups tend to pick up the N√ľwa version. ¬†Nonetheless, others choose to produce some combination of the the three. It is fairly simple to see how this would play own.

As Version 1 states, the world originally lay in utter chaos with all the different contrasting elements mixed together. Then¬†Version 2 picks up by stating the chaos however was confined in the Hundun egg, where Pangu grew until he split the egg apart. He is the father of the world, creating earth and the heavens from his body and efforts. When he died, his body mixed with the supernatural elements still in the air to form¬†N√ľwa and her brother Fuxi. Together, the two of them created humans and rejoiced. However, all of Pangu’s hard work was nearly destroyed when the pillars he fashioned from his extremities were broken by Gonggong. To save the world¬†N√ľwa threw up the five stones to fix the sky and formed the pillars anew. Thus the earth was created and nearly destroyed, while humans managed to survive it all to become the illustrious Chinese we know today.

The varying religions like Buddhism, Animism, Taoism, and Ancestral Worship have picked apart and pieced together these three myths to suit their own story-lines. Thus, we have multiple versions of the Chinese origin myth existing today. 

Whatever the version, the modern eye can clearly see the intricacy and beauty of Chinese mythology in all its forms and fashions. The details, the imagery, the themes and plots spread throughout. The Chinese legends are beautiful and full of magic, ingenuity, passion, and wisdom. The best part is that it is still preserved in the art and style of classic Chinese artistry still preserved today. Take a trip to Beijing and see the paintings on the ancient palace pillars.  Look at the writings and painted visions lining the museum walls. Chinese mythology is a truly unique and stunning creation!

 

“Every Woman . . . “

9 Feb

“Every Woman”
by Pamela Redmond Satran

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE
Enough money within her control to move out
And rent a place of her own
even if she never wants to or needs to
Something perfect to wear if the employer
or date of her dreams wants to See Her in an hour

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE
A youth she’s content to leave behind
A past juicy enough that she’s looking forward to
retelling it in her Old Age

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE
A set of screwdrivers,
a cordless drill, and a black lace bra
One friend who always makes her laugh
And one Who lets her cry

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE
A good piece of furniture not previously owned
by anyone else in her Family
Eight matching plates,
wine glasses with stems,
And a recipe for a meal that will make
her guests feel Honored
A feeling of control over her destiny

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW
How to fall in love without losing herself
HOW TO QUIT A JOB,
BREAK UP WITH A LOVER,
AND CONFRONT A FRIEND WITHOUT
RUINING THE FRIENDSHIP
When to try harder
And WHEN TO WALK AWAY

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW
That she can’t change the length of her calves,
The width of her hips,
or the nature of her parents
That her childhood may not have been perfect
But it’s over

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW
What she would and wouldn’t do for love or more
How to live alone
Even if she doesn’t like it

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW
Whom she can trust,
Whom she can’t,
And why she shouldn’t take it personally

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW
Where to go
Be it to her best friend’s kitchen table
Or a charming inn in the woods
When her soul needs soothing

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW
What she can and can’t accomplish in a day
A month
And a year.

Words That Should Never Be True

3 Feb

‚ÄúChildren are dying.” Lull nodded. “That’s a succinct summary of humankind, I’d say. Who needs tomes and volumes of history? Children are dying. The injustices of the world hide in those three words.‚ÄĚ

**Steven Erikson

A Common Mistake

25 Jan

Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou

22 Dec

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

One Thousand Hands and Eyes

26 Nov

Mercy

This beautiful statue of the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy lies in Daxiangguo Temple in Kaifeng, Henan, China.  Gold-plated, it is a memorial to both propriety and filial piety, two of the great Chinese Confucian virtues.  The story below is a combination of the story told by the tour guide and some local conversationalists who were happy to relate the story to me.  

Many centuries ago,

An old emperor of China grew very, very ill and saw that his country was suffering as well.  Realizing that the country was troubled and needed heavenly assistance, the worried king called out to Buddha and asked for guidance on how to appease the heavens and reclaim the blessings from above.  

Buddha responded that the country and its king had done some very wicked things in the past and that now a sacrifice would be required to repair the damage.  Buddha asked that the Emperor offer up to the heavens one arm and one eye from someone within his family. If he did so, Buddhas said, the country and emperor would be healed and would live in peace once more.  

The Emperor was very saddened and worried, because the only family he had left were his three young daughters.  The Princesses though were very concerned about their father and finally convinced him to share what Buddha commanded.  Upon hearing of the sacrifice required, the sisters were quite upset.

¬†The eldest daughter went to her father ~ “My king, although I love you and would do anything else that you asked of me, I cannot do this for you. I am a new mother, my baby is still nursing. If I only have one arm and one eye, how could I possibly care for my baby the way a good mother is supposed to?” Continue reading

History of Our World: The Korean Origins and Foundations Myth

9 Oct

Korean legends are a fascinating world to immerse yourself in–of course as an avowed student of Myths and Mythology, I could perfectly happily spend my entire life in the fantastic world of eastern stories. ¬†Of a particular interest to me are the origin stories of creation and cultures, a passion which led me to research the Korean story of creation and the Korean culture’s origins.

Mythology and stories about the beginning of the world can be divided into two categories ~ 1) Creation Myths which tell of the origin of the world and 2) Foundation Myths, a subset of the Creation genre, which more specifically relate the origin of a people, nation, or culture. 

As one of the great ancient peoples, it is only natural that much of Korean myths come through to us in the oral tradition. ¬†Still, Koreans do not have much in the way of “Creation of the Earth” myths ~ most of their stories and legends presume that the world was already in existence when the tales begin. ¬†

There are a few minor oral tales that claim the world began (as so many origin stories hold) in a time of utter chaos and an absence of any type of creation or order.  The stories go on to say that suddenly a crack appeared in the heavens, dividing the earth from the skies.  But those are very minor, basic tales lacking any deep specifics or embellishments.  

Rather, Korean myths tend to fall into the realm of Foundation Myths ~ sharing the origins of Korea and the Korean peoples. There are several variations, of which the most popular is the Myth of Tangun, which speaks of Hwangun, a beautiful character of strength and eternal goodness.

Once upon a time, many centuries ago, the great Heavenly God Hwanin had a noble son whose name was Hwangun. ¬†Hwangun had looked upon earth and fell in love, wishing greatly for the chance to come to earth and rule over it so that it might prosper. ¬†After learning of his son’s desire and examining the situation on earth, Hwanin decided that¬†his son’s leadership would benefit the earth and so decreed that Hwangun should go to earth and take charge.

Before he left, Hwanin gave his son three Treasures from Heaven that would signify his authority and right to rule.  Taking these with him, Hwangun finally embarked on his great mission.  Taking 3000 spirits with him Hwangun first alighted on a mountain in Myohyangsan, a place in the modern-day North Korea.

Along with his great assistants, the spirits of the wind, rain, and cloud, Hwangun began implementing his leadership and guided the earth into a time of prosperity and splendor.  

After some time had passed, Hwangun began to be pestered by a tiger and bear who came visiting him and begging for human forms.  Taking pity on them, Hwangun set before them a test~ they were to fast for 100 days and then they would receive their human bodies.  Now, the bear was very diligent and passed the test, finally transforming into a female and enjoying her new form. The tiger was not so steadfast and failed to transform.  But the bear was greatly saddened, for she realized that there was no one on earth for her to mate with and thus no children would come to her.  So daily, she went to the alter and pleaded with the Heavens to provide her with a child.

Once again feeling pity for the tragic bear-woman, Hwangun transformed himself into a human form and married the woman.  Together they had a son, who they named Tangun.  Tangun was the man who, in the time of Emperor Yao (one of the Five Emperors of China in the 2300s-2200s BC), established the first human Korean city in Pyongyang and the first Korean dynasty~ the Choson dynasty.

There are of course several variations of this initial story, but this is the tale in its original and most basic form. Even, to me, the most beautiful form.  

What do you think? Does this sound familiar to your culture’s foundation myth? Any themes or similarities that cross cultural bounds? ¬†Let me know in the comments!

If you are interested, this story is some-what re-told (with major alterations) in the Korean drama “The Legend“~ it’s a great watch, both for the beautiful storyline and insight into Korean cultures/ideology.

The Blossoms of Luoyang

25 Apr

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The Blossoms of Luoyang

My lover is like the tree peony of Luoyang,

I, unworthy, like the common willows of Wu Chang.

Both places love the spring wind.

When shall we hold each others hands again?

Incessant the buzzing of insects beyond the orchard curtain

The moom flings slanting shadows from the pepper tree across the courtyard.

Pity the girl of the flowery house, who is not equal to the blossoms of Luoyang.

‚ÄĒ Ting Liunang (Tang Dynasty)

Book Review: “Italy Travel Guide: Top 40 Beautiful Places You Can’t Miss! “

31 Mar

“Italy Travel Guide:

Top 40 Beautiful Places You Can’t Miss!‚ÄĚ

by Manuel de Cortes

A handy tour guide gifted to visitors in Italy.

Manuel de Cortes‚Äôs recent book, ‚ÄúItaly Travel Guide: Top 40 Beautiful Places You Can’t Miss‚ÄĚ is an resources for travelers or students interested in visiting Italy.¬†¬†At 125¬†pages, the book is small but still contains quite a bit of useful information on locations worth checking out during your trip.

I’ve never been to Italy, so I cannot actually tell you if the places he recommends are truly the best. But I looked up some reviews and pictures of the spots, and I would definitely want to check them out if it were me. I’m planning my dream trip to Italy one day, and this book gave me some great ideas ūüôā

There are seven Chapters, including the introduction and conclusion. He has divided the country into a general overview, North Italy, Central Italy, South Italy, and the Islands.  Each gets its own description and list of recommended locations.  In addition to brief descriptions, he also throws in the fun fact here and there  to spice up your trip.

The book is a little simple, and he doesn’t include directions or tell you how to reach these spots. And it’s usually recommending a larger area (this city, that pot), so specifics like where to find dinner or shop aren’t here. ¬†That will be up to you. But it is a good place to find ideas if you want to¬†get a good look at all the different areas in the country.

Writing style: Pretty good. Some of the writing could have been edited better, but I feel that with a decent editor it would read like a professional.  Mr. Cortes has written several other books, and is obviously familiar with the writing process.  The book is self-published, and you can tell in some places. But overall, I really liked the flow and all the information he includes. A lot of people seem to have really appreciated his use of pictures Рhe has one for almost all of the major locations. It certainly helps you find them on the streets. 

If you are planning a trip to Italy, I recommend checking his book out. ¬†You can find it on Amazon¬†as a cheap¬†E-book ($2.99) so you can carry it with you as you tour ūüôā

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