Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Real People Who Became Legends

From ancient times, certain exceptional individuals have become everlasting legends with highly exaggerated histories of their exploits.

Ancient Hebrew mythological figures include:
Adam (circa 4000BC) “Father of Mankind”;
Enoch (c3700BC) first writing prophet;
Solomon the Wise (King of Israel 970-930BC) sage.

The Heroic Age of Ancient Greece lasted from 1456BC (the Universal Flood) to 1101BC (the Fifth Age of Mankind), and produced the legendary characters of Greek Mythology. The following are examples:

Perseus (1356-1300 BC). His rescue of Andromeda (the Chained Lady) in 1322BC is commemorated in the constellations named after him and her, plus Cassiopeia (her mother), Cephus (Andromeda’s father) and Cetus (the whale that threatened Andromeda).

Hercules (1286-35BC) was deified and a constellation was named in his honour, with others named after his exploits, ie Leo (Lion of Nemea, which he killed), Hydra (the Water Snake he killed), Cancer (the Crab that attacked him while he was fighting Hydra), Centaur (the Horse-man he killed accidentally), Aquila (the Eagle he killed), Sagitta (the Arrow he used to do so) and Draco (Dragon he killed to obtain the Apples of the Hesperides).

The epic journey of Jason and the Argonauts in 1246BC likewise produced constellations named after parts of his vessel the Argo, ie Carina (Keel), Puppis (Poop) and Vela (Sails).

India had its own mythical heroic age c1000BC with Lord Krishna, a deified folk hero.

There followed in Asia:

Zoroaster (628-551BC) founder of the Zoroastrian religion;
Buddha (563-483BC) founder of Buddhism;
Mani (216-74AD) founder of Manichaeism.

China’s folk heroes include:

Laozi (601-531BC) - founder of the Tao religion;
Han Xin (circa 231-196 BC) general who never lost a battle;
Hua Mulan (circa 581-618AD) female warrior;

Mu Guiying (circa 1000AD) female warrior;
Yue Fei (1103-42) general;
Ji Gong (1130-1207), and “Crazy Ji” unorthodox monk
Mu Ying (1345-92) general.

An Irish mythical hero was Fion mac Cumhaill, leader of the Fianna (killed circa 250AD).

The Middle Ages, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, produced more legendary heroes, amongst whom are the following:

Siegfried, hero and brother-in-law of Gundahar, King of the Burgundians (flourished 411AD);
King Arthur (494-537AD) “the once and future king” (of Britain) and his Knights of the Round Table (509-537), who defeated the invading Anglo-Saxons;
El Cid (Rodrigo Diaz (1043-99) Spanish folk hero;
Robin Hood (ie Robin of Loxley 1160-1247) who “robbed the rich to give to the poor”;
William Tell (c1280-1354) Swiss folk hero.
Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia (reigned 1456-62), known as Vlad the Impaler, who became Dracula created by Bram Stoker in 1897.
Dick Turpin ((1705-1739) highwayman.

Nineteenth Century America, with its Wild West, is remembered for a whole succession of legendary characters:
Daniel Boone(1734-1820) frontiersman;
John Chapman (1774-1845) - known as Jonny Appleseed - frontiersman;
Davy Crockett (1786-1836) “King of the Wild Frontier”;
Wild Bill Hickok (1837-76) gunfighter and gambler;
Buffalo Bill (1846-1917) cowboy, bison hunter and showman;
Jesse James (1847-82) outlaw;
Wyatt Earp (1848-1929) gambler turned lawman;
John Henry (1850-1900) railroad builder;
Calamity Jane (1852-1903) frontierswoman;
Annie Oakley (1860-1926) sharpshooter;

Casey Jones (1863-1900) heroic train driver.
Butch Cassidy (1866-1908) and the Sundance Kid (1867-1908) outlaws.

The Australian equivalent was the outlaw, Ned Kelly (1854-80).

Legendary heroes of the First Indian War of Independence (1857-8) were:

Nana Sahib (1824-57) pretender;
Rani of Jhansi (1828-58) female warrior.

The “Roaring Twenties” resulted in gangsters, fighting unpopular American Prohibition (of alcohol), becoming legends:

Bugs Moran (1893-1957);
Machine Gun Kelly (1895-1954);
Legs Diamond (1897-1931);
Lucky Luciano (1897-1962);
Al Capone "Scarface"(1899-1947);

Bonnie and Clyde [Bonnie Parker (1910-34) and Clyde Barrow (1909-34)].

Supremely there is Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), German Chancellor. Most of what is now written about him is false, showing that he has become a legend. Godwin’s Law describes this type of fantasy material, which originated in anti-Nazi wartime propaganda (1939-45) and is now used by journalists and politicians to dramatise their arguments, ie “this is what Hitler did” (or “would have done”).

Then Rocky - the film character who first appeared in 1976 - and was created by Sylvester Stallone, is based on Chuck Wepner (born 1939) who fought Muhammad Ali in 1975 for the heavyweight title. Wepner’s purse was a fraction of Ali’s and he was expected to be an easy opponent, but he went nearly the full fifteen rounds.


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  4. Where did you get Bugsy Malone's dates from?

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