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The King in the Mountain


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Mauro
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Joined: 15 Oct 2008

Also known as Bergtruckung in Continental Europe, this is probably the most famous sleeping hero myth: a long-lost hero, be him a powerful king, a valiant warrior or a charismatic leader, who is not believed to be dead and buried but merely asleep and awaiting the right time to return among his people to save them from certain destruction or to lead them to greatness.
The best known is without a hint of doubt King Arthur, resting in Avalon until Britain will need him again.
But there are other similar figures in the British Isles: the first is Owain Glyndwr (anglicised as Owen Glendover), the leader of the last Welsh uprising against the kings of England. After the uprising was crushed he disappeared completely. Though he's commonly believed to have died around 1415 popular stories cropped up telling how he was merely asleep and awaiting the right moment to free wales from the English yoke. The second is Fionn Mac Uill (anglicised as Finn McCool) the legendary warrior of Irish mythology. There are two different legends regarding him: the first one says he's asleep in a cave near Dublin, awaiting the moment Eire will need him the most. The second says he'll be reborn when the right time will come (reincarnation being a very well known belief among Gaelic people).
On the Continent the best known stories regard Charlemagne and Frederick Barbarossa and were gathered by the Brothers Grimm.
Other less known myths have other great historic figures as main characters: Ogier the Dane, one of Charlemagne's best knights and owner of the legendary sword Cortana, Costantine XI Paleologos, the last Byzantine emperor, said to be saved by an angel, turned into a statue and been placed in a cave under Constantinople and Matthias Corvinus (also known as The Just) are three well known examples.
Holy Roman Emperors are well represented: besides the aforementioned Charlemagne and Frederick Barbarossa othesr are said to be sleeping in a hidden cave under a mounatin. They include Otto the Great, Henry the Fowler and Charles V of Hapsburg.

__________________

"Louhi spoke in riddled tones of three things to achieve: find and catch the Devil's Moose and bring it here to me. Seize the Stallion born of Fire, harness the Golden Horse. He captured and bound the Moose, he tamed the Golden Horse. Still there remained one final task: hunt for the Bird from the Stream of Death"

-Kalevala, Rune XIII-


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Daniel Parkinson
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Joined: 22 Jul 2008
I think a lot of these myths

I think a lot of these myths have parrallels in fairy lore (ancient belief?) about the otherworld where heroes do not die but cross over to the otherworld ready to return, caves being obvious gateways to the otherworld, and, any hero ancient or modern can fit into these motifs. The other similarity is with some world religions - the root of thse motifs would be worth exploring.

Mauro
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Joined: 15 Oct 2008
It's a very ancient

It's a very ancient "messianic" idea and it's not very removed from the religious idea of a saviour who will reappear when the time is ripe. All three major monotheistic religions subscribe to this idea (orthodox Islam is slightly different though with the Mahdi figure) and there are hosts of other religious figures from around the world.
The Bergtruckung is much more "immediate" and promises the return of a popular hero to achieve some tangible result, for example King Arthur rising from his slumber to lead Britain once again or Matthias Corvinus returning to save Hungary from the treacherous magnates and the blasphemous Turkish hosts.
Fairy stories are much more of a "Rip Van Winkle" type. This idea wasn't invented by Washington Irving but is much much more ancient. Ossian is the first example that springs to mind but the most emblematic is the one involving Wang Chi, one of the "Eight Immortals" of Taoism, who stopped in cave while gathering firewood to look at some old men playing chess. By the time he was told to return home he found centuries had passed and nothing remained of the world as he had known it. Some folklorists and researchers were intrigued by the fact that these folktales clearly show knowledge of relativity centuries before Einstein and Langevin were born. But that should be covered by itself since it has much more significative implications than the Bergtruckung.

In Distortion We Trust

__________________

"Louhi spoke in riddled tones of three things to achieve: find and catch the Devil's Moose and bring it here to me. Seize the Stallion born of Fire, harness the Golden Horse. He captured and bound the Moose, he tamed the Golden Horse. Still there remained one final task: hunt for the Bird from the Stream of Death"

-Kalevala, Rune XIII-


Seannachaidh (not verified)
Type 766

Sleeping hero legends are classed as type 766 tales and occur throughout history in almost every culture.

As times and fashionable tales changed, so too does the sleeping hero.  I've heard the legend applied to Robert the Bruce and William Wallace, where previously the hero would have been Merlin or Arthur, Thomas the Rhymer, or Scott the Border Wizard.

Like Arnie says - I'll be back.

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BaronIveagh
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Joined: 7 Nov 2008
It might sound odd, but it's

It might sound odd, but it's possible that a few of these stories might contain some grain of truth, in the form of some sort of localized space-time distortion.  This isn't unknown, things like planes arriving impossibly early or people discovering what they thought was a few moments was really hours or days have been documented before.

Summum Nec Metuam Diem Nec Optima

Seannachaidh (not verified)
Time is certainly subjective

Time is certainly subjective on the speed your neurones fire.  When we were kids the summers seemed to last a life time, as our thought processes fairly flew around the old brainbox.  We get glimpses of that again if we get a sudden adrenalin rush, as when involved in an accident and everything seems to slow down impossibly, letting us react.  I never heard of planes actually arriving impossibly soon, though. 

If you were a giant, you would seem to do everything more slowly than a smaller person, because the distance the firing neurones have to travel has become a lot greater.

In Scotland, everyone knows a night in Fairyland lasts a year and a day in this one. 

Dunno where I am going with this ramble, though.  LOL



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