Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Stupidest Legend in the World

i enjoy legends;  they're rarely realistic, and they tend to lack the depth of real mythology.  but they're fun and romantic and often tell us something about the ways we think.  then today i came across this one, in a catalogue called 'collectables.'  it seemed so bizarre that i wondered if they had made it up, so i ran to my computer and googled it. yep, there it is.

the product is a lovely pendant and earring set with images of the forget-me-not.  there are several legends about this flower, some more interesting or reasonable than others.  but here's the one the catalogue used:

in medieval times, a knight and his lady were walking along a river. he saw the flowers and bent down to create a bouquet. alas, the weight of his armor pulled him into the river, and he drowned.  but as he was going down, he threw her the bouquet, crying 'forget me not.' and since then women wear them as signs of faithful and enduring love.

none of the places i looked said when the legend began, but i'd guess at the height of 19th century romanticism.  it certainly didn't began with anyone who knew anything about the middle ages.

why is this guy wearing armor to walk along the river with his beloved?   i'm not a scholar in the field, but i know enough to be pretty sure you didn't wear your armor for courting, or for any reason at all except a battle or a joust.  the stuff is heavy!  and if you've fallen in the water but are close enough to the shore to throw a bouquet to someone on the ground, you're probably close enough to grab onto the shore and dig in until she can get someone to come and help yank her idiot lover out of the water.  unless of course she's too busy laughing at you.  in which case, women would wear the flowers as a sign warning other women  not to get involved with madmen who are running all over the place in their armor. faithful and enduring, indeed......

1 comment:

Ken Goldstein said...

Of course nobody wore full armor when going courting; they'd all heard about the guy who drowned!

This legend is silly enough on its own, but your dissection of it is wonderfully funny. Thank you!