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story-sources-msg - 2/8/00

Sources for period stories.

NOTE: See also the files: storytelling-art, storytelling2-art, song-sources-msg, Hornbook-art, fairy-tells-msg, p-stories-msg, bardic-msg, Bardic-Guide-art.


This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.

This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org

I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.

The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.

Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).

Thank you,
    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous
                                          Stefan at florilegium.org

From: UDSD007 at DSIBM.OKLADOT.STATE.OK.US (Mike.Andrews)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: Good Stories
Date: Mon, 28 Mar 1994 09:16
Organization: The University of Oklahoma (USA)

cclaus at willamette.EDU (Conrad Claus) writes:
>I am wondering if there is anyone out there who may know of, or, have
>access to, stories suitable for reading aloud at an SCA event.
>I am looking for something to read at the next event.  I wrote one
>recently and it worked for me but I dont intend on going to the time to
>construct another story for the next event....

The _Decameron_ comes to mind immediately. There are several
other books of Renaissance and Medieval stories, including one
I saw last night at a friend's house, just titled
_A Renaissance Storybook_, compiled by Morris Bishop,
out of the Cornell U. Press (1971). LC: PZ1 .B543 Re;
Dewey: 808.83/031. Nice book.
Michael Fenwick of Fotheringhay, O.L. (Mike Andrews)
   udsd007 at ok3005.okladot.state.ok.us (
or udsd007 at ibm.okladot.state.ok.us    (
Barony of Namron, Kingdom of Ansteorra

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
From: mittle at watson.ibm.com (Arval d'Espas Nord)
Subject: Re: Good Stories
Date: Mon, 28 Mar 1994 19:23:37 GMT
Organization: IBM T.J. Watson Research

> I am wondering if there is anyone out there who may know of, or, have
> access to, stories suitable for reading aloud at an SCA event.

Try the Canterbury Tales, the Decameron, Shakespeare, Gawain and the Green
Knight, the Arthurian tales of Chretien de Troyes, Mallory, etc., the Norse
sagas and eddas.  All of these are easily available in translation.  Or
just browse the Penguin Classics shelf in your favorite bookstore.
Arval d'Espas Nord                                   mittle at watson.ibm.com

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
From: kjh at statsci.com (Kjrsten Henriksen)
Subject: Re: Good Stories
Organization: Statistical Sciences, Inc., Seattle, WA USA
Date: Tue, 29 Mar 1994 17:20:58 GMT

I just got a copy of
Kalila and Dimna; selected fables of Bidpai
retold by Ramsay Wood
Inner Traditions intl ltd
Rochester VT

The original stories were from India, but the Persians got a hold of
it and made their own version.  R. Wood is not very carefull about
telling us exactly where his version came from, and his style is very
modern, but the tales themselves bear the stamp of what is either
great antiquity or complete universality (there's a fine pompous
sentance for you).

The first English translation (i'm qoting the introduction here) was
done in the sixteenth century by Sir Thomas North...

Anyway I would *not* recommend reading this aloud at an event, but if
you are a story-teller with a good grasp of period style you will find
it an excellent source for short tales or (using the tale-within-a-tale-
within-a-tale-within-a-tale-within-a-tale format used by this book and
the 1001 nights)  tales of any lenght you need

And if anyone comes across the North translation, it's definitely
worth a look-see.

kjh at statsci.com

From: corliss at hal.PHysics.wayne.EDU (David J. Corliss)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Good Stories
Date: 28 Mar 1994 13:43:37 -0500

From wsu-cs!usenet.ins.cwru.edu!eff!news.kei.com!bloom-beacon.mit.edu!INTERNET!news-mail-gateway Mon Mar 28 13:19:19 EST 1994
Conrad wrote:

> I am wondering if there is anyone out there who may know of, or, have
> access to, stories suitable for reading aloud at an SCA event.

> I am looking for something to read at the next event.  I wrote one
> recently and it worked for me but I dont intend on going to the time to
> construct another story for the next event....

The (Poetic) Eddas and the Mabinogion are great sources for stories. They can be found in many libraries and are ever in print in paperback. If you told a
new story from one of these sources every week, it would still take a very long
time to tell them all. These are stories that are masterpieces from two of the
world's greatest oral traditions.


From: johnsond at carleton.edu
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Additional Period story sources
Date: 25 Jul 94 22:47:23 CST
Organization: Carleton College -- Northfield, MN

Another excellent source for stories to tell from the SCA period is the
Decameron.  There are (I think) 80some stories that are not quite as <ahem>
pristine as the Canterbury Tales.  They are also extremely entertaining...They
are from the Italian Renaissance period, and it can be found in any moderrately
disreputable library in yourr area...
Bulfinch's mythology is also quite good, especially if you like
embellishing another's tales to create your own...
JohnsonD at carleton.edu      M.K.A. Drew Johnson,  A.K.A. Robert Bartholomew of
(--Pax Christi--)          Carleton College      Baskerville of the Baronial
                                                  Colleges of Nordleigh, Canton

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
From: ddfr at quads.uchicago.edu (david director friedman)
Subject: Re: Additional Period story sources
Organization: University of Chicago
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 1994 16:26:02 GMT

Here is my article on sources for story-telling, from the Miscellany.
I note, incidentally, that Drew Johnson writes:

"Another excellent source for stories to tell from the SCA period is
the Decameron.  There are (I think) 80some stories that are not quite
as <ahem> pristine as the Canterbury Tales."

Either he is being sarcastic, or he has his own special edition of
the _Canterbury Tales_, courtesy of Mr. Bowdler. Or perhaps he means
that only a few of the stories in the Decameron are as pristine as
many of the stories in the _Canterbury Tales_.

Period Sources for Story Telling

One of my favorite activities at events is to wander from table to
table at a feast or from campfire to campfire at a camping event,
telling poems and stories. I know of no better way of pulling people
out of the twentieth century, if only for a few minutesPespecially if
the story is presented as a medieval story told by a medieval

Thus, for instance, a Muslim storyteller can follow a recitation of
"The Raven Banner" (written by Malkin Grey and based on an incident
in Njal Saga), which contains a reference to Odin, with the
explanation that Odin is, as he understands it, a Djinn or Demon whom
the Northmen worship as a god, thus confounding the unity of Allah,
the Compassionate, the Merciful. In much the same way, a Christian
storyteller telling an Islamic story might make some comment
concerning the false doctrines of the Paynim. In both cases, the
point is not to start a religious argument but to make the teller's
world-view into a medieval frame for the medieval tale. This is,
incidentally, an entirely period device; both the Indian collections
described below and the Nights are structured many layers deep, with
stories inside stories inside stories.

The purpose of this article is to suggest to readers who might want
to try storytelling for themselves some of the places where period
stories are to be found. Some of the sources I cite are collections
of stories, others are histories, memoirs, or long tales, containing
incidents that can be told as separate stories. Many of the sources
are available in a variety of translations. Some can be found in
almost any bookstore, others may require a search through a good
university library.

For the convenience of story tellers who prefer to tell stories that
their personae could have known, I include information on dates and
places. It is worth noting, however, that stories travelled far and
lasted long. Stories from the Indian collections appear in the
Thousand Nights and a Night, the Gesta Romanorum, and the Decameron;
the Gesta Romanorum was, in turn, a source for both Chaucer and
Shakespeare. Similarly, Apuleius plagiarized parts of his plot from
an earlier Greek workPand contributed one story to the Decameron,
published some twelve centuries after his death.

The Golden Ass by Apuleius. A lengthy and episodic story written in
the second century A.D.

Katha Sarit Sagara (aka The Ocean of Story). A very old and very
large Indian collection, containing many of the stories found in the

Panchatantra (aka Fables of Bidpai, Kalila wa-Dimna, The Tales of
Kalila and Dimna). A very old Indian collection, possibly dating to
200 B.C. It was translated into Persian in the 6th century, into
Arabic (as the Kalila wa-Dimna) in the 8th century, from Arabic into
Greek in the 11th century and, a little later, into Hebrew, and from
Hebrew into Latin in the 13th century. The first English translation
was in the 16th century.

The Thousand and One Nights. The story of Scheherezade, which
provides the frame story for the Nights, is mentioned by al-Nadim in
the 10th century, but the surviving texts are considerably later,
possibly 15th century. The Burton translation (16 volumes!) is a
delight; Payne is also supposed to be very good. Anything under eight
hundred pages and calling itself the Arabian Nights is likely to be
an abbreviated and bowdlerized version, intended for children.

The Table-Talk of a Mesopotamian Judge, by al-Muhassin ibn Ali
al-Tanukhi, D. S. Margoliouth, tr. Al-Tanukhi was a tenth century
judge who found that the anecdotes people were telling were no longer
as good as the ones he remembered from his youth, and decided to do
something about it. The book is full of retellable stories, many of
them about people the author knew.

An Arab-Syrian Gentleman and Warrior in the Period of the Crusades:
Memoirs of Usamah ibn-Munkidh, Philip Hitti tr. Usamah was a Syrian
Emir; his memoirs, dictated in his old age, describe events during
the period between the first and second crusades. They are
entertaining and episodic, hence can easily be mined for stories.

The Shah-nameh of Ferdowsi, the Khamseh of Nizami, the Sikander-nama.
These are all famous works of Persian literature, and should have
bits that can be excerpted as stories. I do not know them well enough
to recommend particular translations.

Mohammad's People, by Eric Schroeder. This is a history of the early
centuries of al-Islam, made up of passages from period sources fitted
together into a reasonably continuous whole. It contains one of my
favorite stories (the death of Rabia, called Boy Longlocks).

The Bible. It was extensively used as a source of stories in the
Middle Ages.

The Koran.

The Travels of Marco Polo.

Gesta Francorum. An anonymous first-hand account of the first
Crusade, extensively plagiarized by 12th century writers.

Gesta Romanorum. A collection of stories, with morals attached,
intended to be used in sermons; the Latin version dates from about
1300 and the English from about 1400. Its connection with real Roman
history is tenuous at best.

The Mabinogion. A collection of Welsh stories written down in the
13th century, apparently based on much earlier verbal traditions.

Boccacio, The Decameron. 14th century.

Chaucer, Canterbury Tales. 14th century.

Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur. 15th century.

Marie de France, The Breton Lais. Popular 12th century poems, based
on Celtic material.

Njal Saga, Egil Saga, Jomsviking Saga, Gisli Saga, Heimskringla, etc.
The sagas are histories and historical novels, mostly written in
Iceland in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. All of those
listed, and no doubt many others with which I am less familiar,
contain incidents that can be excerpted as stories. My own favorites
include the killing of Gunnar, from Njal Saga, Egil's confrontation
with Eric Bloodaxe at York, from Egil Saga, the avenging of Vestan by
his young sons, from Gisli Saga, and the encounter between Harold
Godwinson and his brother Tostig just before the battle of Stamford
Bridge, from Harald Saga (part of Heimskringla).

The Life of Charlemagne by the Monk of St. Gall (aka Notker the
Stammerer), included in Two Lives of Charlemagne (Penguin). This is a
highly anecdotal "life" written in the ninth century, and covering
many subjects other than Charlemagne.
The Chansons de Geste. French "songs of deeds." The Song of Roland,
the earliest and best, dates from the late 11th century; the
translation by Dorothy Sayers is readily available from Penguin and
very good. Other well known Chansons de Geste include Ogier the Dane
and Huon of Bordeaux. A version of the latter by Andre Norton was
published as Huon of the Horn.

Orlando Innamorato (1495) by Boiardo and Orlando Furioso (1516) by
Ariosto. These are actually a single story, started by one poet and
completed by another. They are a Renaissance Italian reworking of the
Carolingian cyclePthe stories of Charlemagne and his Paladins. The
story (and the characters) jump from Paris to London to Tartary, with
or without intermediate stops. The tale is well supplied with magic
rings, enchanted fountains, flying steeds, maidens in distress,
valorous knights, both male and female, and wicked enchanters, also
both male and female.

Ovid's Metamorphoses. An important source of Greek and Roman myths
for Renaissance writers.

[An earlier form of this appeared in Tournaments Illuminated, No.
81, Winter 1986]

From: ctallan at epas.utoronto.ca (Cheryl Tallan)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: Additional Period story sources
Date: 26 Jul 1994 18:02:30 GMT
Organization: University of Toronto -- EPAS

david director friedman <ddfr at midway.uchicago.edu> wrote:
>Here is my article on sources for story-telling, from the Miscellany.


>Ovid's Metamorphoses. An important source of Greek and Roman myths
>for Renaissance writers.
> [An earlier form of this appeared in Tournaments Illuminated, No.
>81, Winter 1986]

Just to let people know that Ovid's Metamorphoses (last but not least
in the list) was not only read and used by Renaissance writers. A
professor I once had for Medieval (not Renaissance) Lit. listed the
Metamorphoses as one of the three most widely read books in the Middle
Ages.  I remember coming across a whole genre of lais which were
re-tellings of the tales in the Metamorphoses. Don't give them a miss
just because you are pre-Renaissance.

David Tallan (aka Thomas Grozier)
who reads his mail at his own account:
david at freenet.toronto.on.ca

From: clev1 at MFS02.cc.monash.edu.au (Conrad Leviston)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: Additional Period story sources
Date: Fri, 29 Jul 1994 01:11:45 GMT
Organization: Monash University

johnsond at carleton.edu writes:
>Another excellent source for stories to tell from the SCA period is the
>Decameron.  There are (I think) 80some stories that are not quite as <ahem>
>pristine as the Canterbury Tales.  They are also extremely entertaining...They
>are from the Italian Renaissance period, and it can be found in any moderrately
>disreputable library in yourr area...
>        Bulfinch's mythology is also quite good, especially if you like
>embellishing another's tales to create your own...

Actually, there are ten groups of ten stories (hence the title). The
originals are in verse form (and Italian), so if you really feel like a
challenge ...
In spite of having made the grievous sin of getting the number of
stories right |-), you have done well to suggest this, as it has a diverse
range of stories, that are in general well set out to be able to find the
set of stories you want. Nine of the ten groups of stories follow a
particular theme, though the only one that comes to mind at the moment is
stories in which the characters save themselves with a witty response".

Yours in Service,
Cormac Lenihan
Conrad Leviston | 'Quotation is the refuge of the fool'
is also found at|       --Chinese Proverb
mongoose at yoyo.cc| The thing I don't like about Dennis O'Connor is
.monash.edu.au  | that he uses the term Socialist as an insult.

Date: Wed, 10 Sep 97 23:09:38 PDT
From: ercil at astrid.upland.ca.us (E. Howard-Wroth)
To: uunet!raven.cc.ukans.edu!sca-arts at uunet.uu.net
Subject: Storytelling resources, Was:linen fairy tales

> telling resources which you have found particularly useful that you would
> care to share?    Have you discovered or created any stories that have
> really excited you?

I have used children's books as resources both
to remember and to read aloud from (depending
of course on the audience).  Children's lit nowadays
is incredibly incredibly rich and wonderful.


From: KiheBard at aol.com
Date: Wed, 1 Oct 1997 02:19:10 -0400 (EDT)
To: ansteorra at Ansteorra.ORG
Subject: Re: ANST - Bardic Circle material

In a message dated 97-09-30 20:26:29 EDT, Steven writes:
> I had the good fortune to attend my first bardic circle (competition) this
>  weekend at Battle of the Pines.  It was very enjoyable and made me want to
>  partake in the fun.  What kind of material is appropriate?  And where to
>  find (or how to create) that material?
Steven, you may not realize just how loaded a question you just asked.

All of the following commentary is IMNSHO (In My Not-So-Humble Opinion),
so be aware that others will probably have radically different ideas.

In SCA bardic circles, the question of "appropriate material" must hinge
upon "appropriate for what? who? when/where?".

FOR WHAT: is the circle a full competition for Titled Bard status, a one-shot

organized around an announced theme, or a gathering simply for the joy
of sharing poem, song and story? If formal, is the expectation for
"standard format" or some variation (three pieces in at least two of the
normal performance types) or something else entirely? Are you trying
to entertain, teach, or both?
FOR WHO: is this a gathering expecting to be entertained, or folk all
expecting to participate themselves, or some combination? Are there
minors present, or within earshot?

FOR WHEN: is this at an event designed for such a competition, during
the day, after a long court, interspersed with the courses of a feast,
or scattered throughout other activities? Are the performances in an
enclosed space, around a bonfire, in front of a seated crowd or in the
midst / on the edge of a circle? Before or after midnight?

Appropriate Material / Sources:
Shakespeare is a rich mine of readily available poetry, soliloquy, and
basic story -- most of which is generally well-received and can reach
an audience due to prior acquaintance. Celtic myth and legend,
particularly as found in the Tain bo Cualney (Cattle-Raid of Cooley
and associated "fore-matter") and Mabinogion, are extremely rich
sources. Other mythic or legendary material is also often used:
the various Norse / Icelandic sagas, Aesop's Fables, and -- OF
COURSE -- "The Matter of Britain" (Arthur & the Table Round).

The material created by the troubadour and trouvere, Meistersingern
and Minnesingern, the songs of the Goliards, and most other
pre-1600 poetry can all be used. As can songs, although you
will find that there is much dissension as to how accurate our
modern understanding of the tunes and performance techniques
may be. It is a matter of pride for some to perform material from
these sources in the original language; my personal preference is
to use translations except where the original is going to be understood
by at least SOME of my audience *or* to present both the
original _and_ a translation.

Other sources include collections of fairy tales, "The Thousand and
One Nights", and even accounts of the caravan trade or ship voyages.
Russian folk tales can be tricky if you are trying for authentic
pre-1600 material, but there are appropriate stories out there
(look for the stories of the Bogatyr in particular, and don't
shy away from Baba Yaga automatically because her story
was "mined" for modern role-playing game material).

Don't be afraid to use tales from "cultures in contact", either.
Particularly and especially Arabic and New World "tales of wonder"!
(consider that traveler's tales, and the tales they brought back
from distant ports/destinations, fuelled much of the Age of Exploration)

You can also create your own, new, works in the styles and
using the techniques of the period / cultures. Or borrow the
compositions of other travelers in these Current Middle Ages
as well.

These words are only the briefest of summaries, the slimmest of
introductions. Seek out other circles, and listen, and learn from
those who would entertain -- and those who would teach. Be
prepared to do some of each in your own turn.

I'm currently planning on attending Three King's (at the First Monday
site, right?). Based upon your mention of Battle of the Pines, I would
hope to make your acquaintance there, and perhaps answer other
questions that might arise. I'm easy to find during the day:
just look for the merchant with the knives, and the attitude.

Amr ibn Majid al-Bakri al-Amra, accorded the recognition of al-Sayyid
in the Society we share;
known also as Kihe Blackeagle, the DreamSinger Bard;
and to the tax authorities I am
Mike C. Baker, computer programmer and modern wordsmith

Date sent:      Wed, 03 Nov 1999 10:58:13 -0500
From: Finnvarr de Taahe <finnvarr at ealdormere.sca.org>
To: Tourney Companies <TourneyCompanies at topica.com>,
       Calontir <Calontir at unl.edu>,
       Ealdormere list <E_List at ealdormere.sca.org>,
       Middlebridge <sca-middle at midrealm.org>,
       Northshield <northshield at minstrel.com>
Subject:        [Mid] More Froissart

I've been adding some major excerpts from Froissart to my Tales from Froissart site.
In the past three weeks five new major passages have been posted there,
one of which is not complete.

For those who are interested in more stories of the 14th century, and
haven't been there before, the site is:


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org