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Reading skills - ROBIN HOOD - REALITY OR MYTH?

Klausimas #1

     Of all English folk-heroes, and there have been many, the most popular was the yeoman archer of medieval times, Robin Hood, whose deeds still thrill the youth of the Anglo-Saxon world, on the silver screen if not on the printed page.
    Speculation about his origin has caused many controversies among the scientists. Many antiquaries of the past have declared that Robin was a historical figure, and some historicms still have a sneaking feeling that there is more historical truth in some of his early stories than they will openly care to admit. Others have declared him a myth, a forest etf. His name came from the fact that he was a robber or was synonymous with Robin Goodfellow, and his surname from "o'th'wood", or from the fact that he wore a hood; he "flourished", some time between the eleventh and fourteenth century. The curliest complete ballads that have come to us date from earlier 1400.
     The popularity of the early ballads, due no doubt to the fact that they told of the common man's fight against his powerful enemies, the rich bishops and the protectors of the game preserves, led to many inferior stories with Robin Hood as the hero. The popularity of the hero led to the naming of natural features and flowers after him. In Yorkshire we have Robin Hood's bay, in Nottingham — a cave is his stable, a huge natural rock — his chair, and a well is named after him.
     The mycologists hold that the naming of natural features after the folk-hero demonstrates his mythical nature, a matter which will be discussed later. Relics of Robin Hood appear to have provided some people with a means of livelihood many years after his death. Brome, in his 'Travels Over England" (1970), records that near a well not far from Nottingham he saw the ancient chair of the outlaw with a cap on it, which, they said, was his. It seems a pity that we have no more details of the ceremony, the people who conducted it, and the amount of the fee.
     An examination of some of the mycologists' theories reveals a host of conflicting ideas. As I have already noted, the first mention in literature occurs in or about 1377. Robin Hood's place of residence is uncertain. He owns hills, wells, and other natural features in Lancashire, Derbyshire, Shropshire and Somerset. The story is localized in Sherwood, Yorkshire and Scotland.
     Historical deducation is often difficult. After Robin Hood's death the story passed from person to person by word of mouth probably for some time before the ballad-makers heard of it. They, of course, elaborated and magnified it, and added bits of older stories. This then is how a folk-hero grows, and perhaps the process shown here could be applied to the majority of such heroes.
     A great deal of mystery remains unexplained, but the same can be said of Shakespeare, who spent his life leaving written evidence, which seems to be preferred to all other kinds. With the date that Robin Hood "flourished" now fixed, it is possible that still further clues in deeds, rolls or records may finally resolve the puzzle.
     As a great hero Robin Hood is dead, but as a flesh and blood person and an outstanding folk-hero, he will five as long as English people take an interest in their traditions and folk-lore.

(After P.V.Harris)

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