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Saturday, January 9, 2016

BoWs AnD ArRoWs

The earliest use of the bow and arrow seems to be from around 9000 B.C. which was generally during the Paleolithic era.  You know it as the "Stone Age".  This time is distinguished by the development of [primitive] stone tools.  

Image Source:  ancient-origins.net
Groups of humans lived in small societies in the European region of Germany (north of Hamburg) or Denmark, as the oldest known bows, to date, come from the Holmegård swamp in Denmark.  However, in the region of Egypt, these weapons may have been in use some 2000 years before this!

Image source: medievaltymes.com
Human Beings stayed alive by gathering, scavenging, hunting and fishing.  Arrows were generally constructed from a pine shaft which held a flint or bone point. 

"French River Rapids" by Paul Kane
(Prior to the utilization of the bow and arrow, spear throwing was the method of hunting and science has discovered various types of spears on virtually every continent.) Eventually, the bow and arrow found it's place in war fare and defense, as the ability to shoot a lethal projectile from a greater distance, had its advantages. 

Image source:  avictorian.com
Image Source:  pinterest
Use of the bow and arrow has come in and out of style since the early 1800's and today, recreational archery societies have experienced a revival.  Of course, here in Vermont, stealthy use of the bow and arrow during hunting season, is frequently a favorite time of year among our deer hunters. 

Following is a rather whimsical post, highlighting a few of our all time favorite archers, which have appeared in history, mythology and legend.  I have also included many images of fine art, as well as some common terminology and quotes, relating to archery.

Diana, the Huntress
In Roman mythology, Diana was the Huntress.  She was the daughter of Jupiter and Latona, and was born with her twin brother Apollo, on the island of Delos.

"A goddess of both chastity and fertility, and also of the moon, Diana's cult became popular throughout the ancient Roman empire, both among the nobility and the lower classes. She was the patron of slaves, who could find sanctuary in her temples, and of women seeking to conceive healthy children. Eternally young and beautiful, she was known to possess a quick temper and fiercely defended her virginity.

"Diana"  - unknown/pinterest
Often portrayed with bow and arrow and accompanied either by a deer or hounds, Diana was the goddess of both wild and domestic animals. Her temple in Ephesus was one of the wonders of the world.

In later centuries, Diana figured in European myths of the female Wild Hunt. During the Renaissance, she became a popular figure in art, poetry, and drama. More recently, her early role as a strong female deity has been examined in academic discussions of the history of religions, and she has inspired a branch of the neo-pagan religion. She is an archetype of the competent, free-spirited, independent female."  ~ Wiki

"Nocking" - is the act of setting an arrow onto the bow

In ancient Greece, Artemis was one of the most widely venerated deities, and her equivalent is Diana, of Roman mythology. 

Artemis - image source: pinterest
"Artemis was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. The deer and the cypress were sacred to her. In later Hellenistic times, she even assumed the ancient role of Eileithyia in aiding childbirth." - wikipedia

A breath-taking sculpture of Artimes, by Adam Beane

A "Quiver" is the container or case in which arrows are kept.  They are most commonly strapped to one's back (though that is a matter of preference), and the intention is to make the arrow quickly accessible.   They are fashioned from a variety of material, to include leather, wood, plastic, metal and so on - and they are also a matter of personal preference.

Elves, LOR at Helm's Deep
In the Trilogy of the Lord of the Rings, Legolas, is one of my all-time favorite archers.  

Legolas is a Sindarin Elf character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, who comes to us from the Woodland Realm.  He is one of nine members of the Fellowship of the Ring.

Vermont DeadLine's side note:
This guy is not Legolas; and, in fact, has absolutely nothing
to do with this post.  He is just too gorgeous not to include.
The combination of Elven magic and the lightening speed with which Legolas uses the bow and arrow, has captured many-a-heart, as well as our imagination. 

The Mirkwood Elven Army, Lord of the Rings

W.C. Wyeth
The tale of Robin Hood has survived since around the 14th century, when the ballad was first circulated.  He is the quintessential hero who is known for his adept archery, as well as his swordsmanship.  He is also referred to as the "Prince of Thieves".  Robin Hood is famous for his agility, as he rapidly moves through his home, the Sherwood Forest, defending maidens and men.  He is most famous for "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor" with his band of Merry Men.  His nemesis is the Sheriff of Nottingham and his love is Maid Marian.  

Contemporary scholars believe that Robin Hood's character is based on a real person who lived during the 12th or 13th century, however, there is still conflicting information about where he came from, geographically, as well as historically.

W. C. Wyeth
W. C. Wyeth
W. C. Wyeth

"Anchor Point" –  Is the point to be touched by the hand which is drawing the string, when the bow is fully drawn and ready to shoot, it is usually a point on the archer's mouth, chin or nose.

Various types of metal arrow heads
"Fletchings" - the feathered section of an arrow and the "nock" is the tip and the very end.

Cupid, whose arrows are intended to imbue love into the hearts of would-be lovers, is perhaps, best known in the United States for his association with our Valentine's Day.  He is frequently depicted as a angel-cherub with his bow and arrow at the ready, on greeting cards.

Cupid in a Tree (1795/1805) by Jean-Jacques-François Le Barbier
Cupid, in Latin, means "desire", and is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection. He is frequently portrayed as the son of the Venus (Goddess of Love) and god Mars (of War), and is also known as  "Amor" (Love). 

Cupid with a Butterfly by Bouguereau
"Cupid is winged, allegedly, because lovers are flighty and likely to change their minds, and boyish because love is irrational. His symbols are the arrow and torch, "because love wounds and inflames the heart."...Cupid is also sometimes depicted blindfolded and described as blind, not so much in the sense of sightless—since the sight of the beloved can be a spur to love—as blinkered and arbitrary." - wiki

Jacques-Louis David, Mars Disarmed by Venus 
"Cupid carries two kinds of arrows, one with a sharp golden point, and the other with a blunt tip of lead. A person wounded by the golden arrow is filled with uncontrollable desire, but the one struck by the lead feels aversion and desires only to flee." - wiki

Cupid, by William Hoare
"Cupid is usually shown amusing himself with adult play, sometimes driving a hoop, throwing darts, catching a butterfly, or flirting with a nymph. He is often depicted with his mother (in graphic arts, this is nearly always Venus), playing a horn. In other images, his mother is depicted scolding or even spanking him due to his mischievous nature. He is also shown wearing a helmet and carrying a buckler..." - wiki

Madeleine Lemaire “Phoebe”, 1896. 

Cupid's counterpart in Greek mythology, was Eros - Greek god of Love.   Eros is the son of Aphrodite (and either Ares or Hermes).  He is frequently considered a winged, primordial god, (existing from the beginning of time).  

by Bodrum
Eros is often depicted as a blindfolded male, who also carries a bow and arrow; and, similar to Cupid, could target any human being and so that they will fall in love with the first person they see. 

"Amor und Psyche" by Öl auf Leinwand
"One of the most prevalent myths in ancient Greece was that of Eros and Psyche; according to it, Aphrodite was jealous of the beauty of mortal princess Psyche and told her son to make her fall in love with the ugliest creature on earth. However, Eros fell for her instead and took her to his divine abode... 

"Eros and Psyche" - unknown/pinterest
However, Psyche's jealous sisters led Psyche to betray Eros, who abandoned her; Psyche, wandering the Earth for her lost love, approached Aphrodite for help. Aphrodite created a series of tasks for Psyche which she successfully passed, and hence, Aphrodite decided to concede. Since then, Psyche became immortal and united with her husband. They had a daughter, Hedone (meaning bliss)." - greekmythology.com

"The Joy is great of him who strays
In shady woods on summer days,
With eyes alert and muscles steady,
His long-bow strung, his arrows ready."
 ~ Maurice Thompson

"To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end...."

~William Shakespeare, Hamlet [soliloquy]