Can You Solve the Sphinx’s Other Riddle?

Interesting Literature

One of the most celebrated tragedies of ancient Greece was Oedipus Rex, Sophocles’ play about the Theban king who unwittingly killed his father and married his mother. In order to become King of Thebes, Oedipus had had to solve a famous riddle – or should that be riddles?

Oedipus was born to King Laius and Queen Jocasta of Thebes, but when Laius hears a prophecy that he will die at the hands of his son, he orders the child to be killed. The infant is left on a mountain to die, but a shepherd finds him and takes him in, raising him as his own son and naming him Oedipus (literally ‘swollen feet’, from the pins that had bound the infant’s feet together when he was found). When he grows up in Corinth, Oedipus learns of the prophecy that he will kill his father and marry his mother…

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The legend of Alaric’s burial

Death_of_Alaric
It all started with Jordanes who provides most of the literary evidence concerning the early history of the Goths. His De origine actibusque Getarum (551) is a Readers Digest version of the lost History by Cassiodorus (490-585).

Cassiodorus held several high offices under the reigns of Theoderic and Athalaric, the Ostrogoth rulers in Ravenna. I suppose he spoke the Gothic language. But scholars today question his claim that he based his history of the Goths on folk songs. More likely, he wanted to give the Gothic ruling class a glorious past matching that of Roman senatorial families. Cassiodorus probably used oral sources, but coming from a traditon of written sources, he might have known that he was putting the ‘story’ into History by merging these snippets into a coherent Whole.

It would not be the only time this happened. Geoffrey de Monmouth’s Historia Regum Brittaniae does the same by connecting the House Plantagenet to King Arthur, to name just one example.

We don’t know much about Jordanes, according to what he mentions in his Getica, he and his father held positions in the immediate surroundings of the leaders in the Alano-Ostrogothic tribal confederation in Moesia (Bulgaria) until Jordanes converted to the Catholic faith and took vows. His and his father’s name sound more Alan than Gothic to me.

Thus, we have the condensed version of a history that had an agenda, both written some 140 years after the incidents. The main tone of the Getica is friendly to the Goths whom Jordanes as well as Cassiodorus interpret as having tried to find a peaceful integration into the Roman Empire.

This is what Jordanes says about Alaric’s funeral:

 

FINISH READING AT–

http://lostfort.blogspot.com/2006/04/legend-of-alarics-burial.html