Seth's myth tournament

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Seth's myth tournament

Post by Susan »

I just wanted to be the first to thank Seth Teitler for running his completely awesome myth tournament. The questions were excellent and, I believe, will be made available pretty soon, so all y'all who didn't go should check them out.

Also, congratulations to Seth Kendall for winning it.

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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

When you think of Quizbowl Myth, you think of (or at least I do) questions on the name of the hilt of the sword (different from the sword's own name, mind you) of some obscure deity (like Borvo, Celtic god of springs). That's what I was expecting.

That's not what we got at all. Instead, virtually every answer was something that almost everyone has heard of and could pull from the giveaway. That's not to say it was too easy. The tossups were long, pyramidal, and began with obscure or even esoteric clues.

It was extremely well-written, and I had a blast. Seth ought to be proud of what he wrote.
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Post by No Sollositing On Premise »

I'm extremely jealous that I couldn't get in on this action. Is there any possibility of a mirror farther east? Even if there isn't one I probably would shell out some cash for some of the packets for kicks.
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Post by setht »

The myth question set is now available on the Stanford Archive ( http://quizbowl.stanford.edu/archive/ ; specifically, http://quizbowl.stanford.edu/archive/my ... index.html ).

I'm interested in any feedback people have to offer--general comments on the set, remarks about specific questions, criticisms (preferably constructive, but I'll take what I can get), etc. Feel free to post publicly with your thoughts, or email me at [email protected]

I have all sorts of thoughts on question-writing, and myth question-writing in particular, that occurred to me while working on the set; if people are interested, perhaps I'll share them at some later time. Some people at the UIUC event also expressed interest in hearing what sources I used; I'll try to type that up and post it soon.

-Seth

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Post by dtaylor4 »

I moderated for the tournament, and even though I had some trouble with the Celtic and Welsh, I was kinda mad that I hadn't registered for the tournament. The questions were well-written, and it helps when the players know there stuff (I moderated two matches that were almost grails).

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Post by setht »

I have some free time now, so I thought I'd start flooding the board with a bunch of posts about the myth tournament, writing myth, and writing questions in general.

To start with, here's what I wrote for the myth singles tournament:

91 Greek
39 European
26 Norse
20 Egyptian
19 Indian
13 Mixed
13 American
12 Roman
12 Asian
11 Near/Middle Eastern
2 Polynesian
2 African

For those of you keeping score at home, this means that every round had 7 Greek, 3 European, 2 Norse, 1 or 2 Egyptian, 2 or 1 Indian, 1 Mixed, and 1 American. Most rounds also had 1 Roman, 1 Asian, and 1 Near/Middle Eastern; occasionally, Polynesian or African subbed in for one of those last 3.

Mixed questions had clues from at least two different categories. There were some questions in the European, American, and Asian categories that had clues from multiple traditions within a single category.

The divisions were rather arbitrary. In particular, "European" included Irish, Welsh, general Celtic, Germanic, Slavic, Arthurian, and Finnish, with no pre-set subdistribution, but (for instance) Norse was split off as a separate category. I assume the other categories are self-explanatory.

If anyone has thoughts on what the subdistribution of an all-myth tournament ought to be, or the subdistribution of a myth set for a regular tournament, I'd be interested to hear them.

-Seth

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Post by recfreq »

It seems Indian myth appears more in standard (e.g. ACF) packets than it is represented in the distr above, more about the same as Norse it appears, but may be that's just due to my preference for Indian questions in general.

Ray.
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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

I understand that Norse mythology has a much bigger pool of possible questions, because everything has a name, but I still feel that it is the single most overrepresented category in quiz bowl, except perhaps for sociology/anthropology/psychiatry, but my rant about quiz bowl Social Science and its shortcomings is something for another thread.

I think that Egyptian, Arthurian, and Celtic myth (your whole "European" distro + Egyptian) could together make a fine replacement for the Norse that I think should be cut. Each of these is, in my opinion, underrepresented, and I think that some tossups on Arthurian knights or Celtic deities (you know, actual movers and shakers within the tradition) would be much better than tossups on some sword or hilt that's being asked about only because some Norseman was so bored as to give it a name.
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Post by setht »

This post grew monstrously long as I worked on it, so feel free to skip most or all of it. Hopefully it might be useful to people interested in finding some good ideas for mythology references. I've included some websites that seem fairly reputable/useful. I've also tried to note which books were easiest to use for question-writing purposes.


Without further ado, here's a list of almost all of the references (books and websites) that I used in writing the questions, split up geographically.

General
—Mythology: The Voyage of the Hero (David Leeming)
—The World of Myth (David Leeming)
—God (Leeming & Page)
—American, African, and Old European Mythologies (Yves Bonnefoy, transl. Wendy Doniger et. al.)
—Encyclopedia of Creation Myths (Leeming & Leeming)

Greco-Roman
—The Greek Myths (Robert Graves)
—Classical Mythology (Morford & Lenardon)

European
—Kalevala Mythology (Juha Pentikäinen)
—The Kalevala (transl. Keith Bosley)
—“Bricriu’s Feastâ€

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Post by setht »

recfreq wrote:It seems Indian myth appears more in standard (e.g. ACF) packets than it is represented in the distr above, more about the same as Norse it appears, but may be that's just due to my preference for Indian questions in general.

Ray.
You're very possibly right; my initial plan was to have equal amounts of Norse, Indian, and Egyptian myth. In the end, there were slightly more Norse questions than Indian or Egyptian (2 per packet, vs. 1.5 each of Indian and Egyptian). I don't know if this represents much of a break from the typical subdistribution.

Bruce wrote: I understand that Norse mythology has a much bigger pool of possible questions, because everything has a name, but I still feel that it is the single most overrepresented category in quiz bowl, except perhaps for sociology/anthropology/psychiatry, but my rant about quiz bowl Social Science and its shortcomings is something for another thread.

I think that Egyptian, Arthurian, and Celtic myth (your whole "European" distro + Egyptian) could together make a fine replacement for the Norse that I think should be cut. Each of these is, in my opinion, underrepresented, and I think that some tossups on Arthurian knights or Celtic deities (you know, actual movers and shakers within the tradition) would be much better than tossups on some sword or hilt that's being asked about only because some Norseman was so bored as to give it a name.
As I worked on writing questions in these categories, I found that I ran out of topics I was comfortable using as tossup answers more quickly in Indian and Egyptian myth than in Norse myth. Part of this, no doubt, is due to my own background—I was probably more willing to write some of the harder Norse tossups than I would have been to write similarly hard tossups in Indian and Egyptian myth. However, I think all 3 categories ended up with lots of reasonable tossup answers and a few harder questions apiece. Given that I decided never to use the same tossup answer twice, and tried not to use any clue twice (e.g., if I say Zeus is Hera's husband, I don't say elsewhere that Hera is Zeus's wife), I think writing another 7 Indian myth tossups, or another 6 Egyptian myth tossups, would have sent me into very obscure answer-space.

Also, as you noted earlier, I restrained myself from asking questions on the names of sword-hilts. If you have suggestions on which Norse questions were way over-the-top, or which additional Egyptian tossup answers I could have used, I'd be interested to hear them. I do think some of the Norse answers were over-the-top, but I'm interested in hearing what other people thought.

Moving on to Celtic and Arthurian myth: I also feel that Celtic myth deserves more representation in quizbowl. I think about 30 of the 39 European tossups ended up being Irish/Welsh/Celtic/Arthurian; this is very possibly more than that area of myth deserves. In any case, given that the circuit in general does not seem to have assimilated Celtic myth as much it has, say, Norse myth, I did not want to flood the set with questions on Celtic deities (even the real movers and shakers), only to see lots of blank looks. From what I saw at the UIUC site, and what I've heard from other people, it sounds like the Celtic myth questions were the least frequently answered of the bunch. Meanwhile, I didn't find nearly as much good material for Arthurian myth as I wanted, so I had trouble generating lots of Arthurian questions; I count 12 (some with clues from Welsh mythology, some based entirely on later Arthurian legends), which doesn't seem like a gross under-representation. I'm also not sure there are that many Arthurian knights worth asking about.

Again, if anyone has any thoughts on good tossup ideas I missed out on, I'd be interested to hear them (better yet, write the tossups, then read them to me).

-Seth

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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

I should point out that the second part of my post was aimed not at your singles, Seth, but at quiz bowl in general. I do think that your tournament had a much more reasonable distribution than quiz bowl at large, where I think the proportion of Norse to others (excluding Classical) is far more loopsided.

Your distributions were reasonable and should be admired and imitated with an eye towards eventually ending or reducing the overrepresentation of Norse myth. It will take many years of affirmative action before some of the more obscure Egyptian, Indian, or Celtic figures obtain the quiz bowl status that many obscure Norse things have right now.
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Post by setht »

First, I wanted to ask whether anyone has any recommendations on good question-writing sources for (non-Indian) Asian or Arthurian myth. I'm interested in all myth book recommendations, but I had more trouble finding good sources for those areas.

Second, some quick thoughts on using websites and books: I know some people rail against the use of sites such as Encyclopedia Mythica and Wikipedia. To some extent, these criticisms are justified: some of the articles on these sites are reasonably well researched and well written, but many are not. If you don't know the myths in advance, there's no way of telling whether the articles are doing a good job, since they generally have no references. In addition, the coverage is far from complete—there are no articles on certain major figures/myths, and some mythologies are completely absent.

However, I've never figured out how to get a stack of myth books to open to every mention of, say, "hammer." My typical approach in writing various cross-cultural mythology questions was to pick an answer, write down all the connections to that answer I could think of off-hand, then go to Encyclopedia Mythica (and sometimes Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica) and search for that answer. In pretty much every case, many more connections appeared as a result of such a search than I could have come up with on my own. Then I clicked through those entries that looked promising, and (wherever possible) looked things up in books. In some cases, my initial brainstorming generated only 2 or 3 connections, and a search on Encyclopedia Mythica failed to turn up enough useful or interesting material; in those cases, I abandoned the tossup answer as a lost cause. Note that Encyclopedia Mythica is well suited to this sort of job; I had a little more trouble doing this sort of thing with Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica. The best approach I could come up with was to run searches on Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica with, for instance, "myth hammer." Suggestions on running such searches are welcome.

My general tendency is to have much more confidence in any source (book or website) that cites primary sources. In some cases, I felt the need to check a citation; translations of many primary sources are freely available on-line (for instance, at sacred-texts.com), with the caveat that the translations may not be the greatest. In other cases, lists of citations provided some material for clues, or helped me avoid using minor variants of a myth without proper warning (this is a bit of a pet peeve; more on this in some later post). This is where secondary sources that don't cite primary sources really start sucking.

In conclusion: websites can be useful in certain tasks where books are just not an option. Anything that you can't trace back to some primary source is suspect.

-Seth

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Post by Susan »

The only myth book that I have yet managed to get to open to every mention of "hammer" (well, several mentions at least) is the Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities (Patricia Turner and Charles Russell Coulter). It's not a perfect source, but it is very broad, and its index does allow you to look up some common subjects (hammers, otters, earrings, and butter, to name a few).

On distribution: I would have been thrilled to see less Greek/Roman and more of pretty much anything else (Celtic or mixed especially, but any other minor category plus Christian, Jewish, or Islamic mythology). I'm aware that I'm in the minority here.

I used to feel that Norse myth was overrepresented, but I don't feel that way so much anymore. I did learn a little more about Norse myth in the meantime, so I'm not sure if this reflects an actual decrease in the number of Norse myth questions. I think that the claim that more items (rings, swords, whatever) are named in Norse mythology than in other mythologies is without merit; however, virtually all of the questions in quizbowl on named mythological items are Norse. Clearly the solution is to have lots of tossups on Wavesweeper and Kusanagi.

I don't have any recommendations for books on non-Indian Asian or Arthurian myth, but since you say you're open to all recommendations, here are a few:

Hindu Myths: A Sourcebook Translated from the Sanskrit (Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty): this book has sections on several major gods, each of which is subdivided into the major stories about the god. In these subdivisions, one or several versions of the myth are quoted from various sources (Vedas, Puranas, epics, etc.). The index contains short descriptions of the minor characters mentioned in the myths. It's really good for getting a broad overview of the myths that pertain to most of the askable gods, but it isn't a good source for the epics. Doniger is working on a new translation of the Mahabarata, which should be pretty enjoyable to read whenever it comes out.

Also, Deirdre and Other Great Stories From Celtic Mythology (Eoin Neeson) retells several of the most famous stories from Celtic myth enjoyably retold in great detail. It includes the story of Deirdre, the sons of Tuireann, the children of Lir, the wooing of Emer, Mac Datho's Boar, the death of Oisinn, and a handful of other stories.

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Post by grapesmoker »

Bruce wrote:I understand that Norse mythology has a much bigger pool of possible questions, because everything has a name, but I still feel that it is the single most overrepresented category in quiz bowl, except perhaps for sociology/anthropology/psychiatry, but my rant about quiz bowl Social Science and its shortcomings is something for another thread.

I think that Egyptian, Arthurian, and Celtic myth (your whole "European" distro + Egyptian) could together make a fine replacement for the Norse that I think should be cut. Each of these is, in my opinion, underrepresented, and I think that some tossups on Arthurian knights or Celtic deities (you know, actual movers and shakers within the tradition) would be much better than tossups on some sword or hilt that's being asked about only because some Norseman was so bored as to give it a name.
You are entitled to your wrong opinion, Mr. Hieroglyphics.
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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

When it comes to Classical mythology (Greco-Roman), then that overrepresentation is justified because these things have a significance apart from their mere existance as myth. Classical mythology has infiltrated our own culture and our own language, and has done so throughout the West.

People talk about having an Achilles's heel, they do not say that somebody is as mighty as Thor's hammer. Titian did not paint any chariots pulled by cats, nor is there a cannonical work of art entitled Wodin Contemplating the Head of Bran. When and only when these things are true for Norse myth, and they never will be, can the current ratio of Norse to non-Norse myth in quiz bowl be justified.
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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

grapesmoker wrote: You are entitled to your wrong opinion, Mr. Hieroglyphics.
I have just one thing to say to that:

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Post by setht »

Bruce wrote:When it comes to Classical mythology (Greco-Roman), then that overrepresentation is justified because these things have a significance apart from their mere existance as myth. Classical mythology has infiltrated our own culture and our own language, and has done so throughout the West.

People talk about having an Achilles's heel, they do not say that somebody is as mighty as Thor's hammer. Titian did not paint any chariots pulled by cats, nor is there a cannonical work of art entitled Wodin Contemplating the Head of Bran. When and only when these things are true for Norse myth, and they never will be, can the current ratio of Norse to non-Norse myth in quiz bowl be justified.
There will never be a painting of Wodin Contemplating the Head of Bran inspired by Norse myth, precisely because there is no such thing in Norse myth. If you're looking for a painting featuring Odin and Mimir's head, you can buy one for $400 from http://www.stephanielaw.com/image/mimir.shtml

I believe Wagner's Ring Cycle is considered a canonical work of art. Do you go through life ignoring Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays?

-Seth

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Post by grapesmoker »

Bruce wrote:When it comes to Classical mythology (Greco-Roman), then that overrepresentation is justified because these things have a significance apart from their mere existance as myth. Classical mythology has infiltrated our own culture and our own language, and has done so throughout the West.

People talk about having an Achilles's heel, they do not say that somebody is as mighty as Thor's hammer. Titian did not paint any chariots pulled by cats, nor is there a cannonical work of art entitled Wodin Contemplating the Head of Bran. When and only when these things are true for Norse myth, and they never will be, can the current ratio of Norse to non-Norse myth in quiz bowl be justified.
We write questions about a lot of things that aren't necessarily as much a part of the Western canon as Greek mythology. Like Aztec and Egyptian myth, for example, both of which are way farther from us than Norse myth is, and both of which I personally would rather hear less rather than more of. However, it's not up to me. The distribution says, typically, 3/3 RMP. That means, on average, I get to write 1/1 R, 1/1 M, and 1/1 P. Considering most people typically pick the two myth questions from different pantheons, there's no way that any given round has any "over-representation" of Norse myth in any way. Further considering that on average different writers pick different pantheons to write about, the concentration of any particular pantheon is strongly diluted. Nevertheless, everyone still gets to write on whatever topic they want, not the topic you think should be represented more.

I guess if you ever edit a tournament, it would be your prerogative to enforce a greater proportion of Greek myth to other myth. However, anything more than 1/1 from any pantheon in a packet to me seems like overkill, especially since it's not just a myth distribution.
Bruce wrote:I have just one thing to say to that:

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Ice burn?
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Post by cvdwightw »

Bruce wrote: It will take many years of affirmative action before some of the more obscure Egyptian, Indian, or Celtic figures obtain the quiz bowl status that many obscure Norse things have right now.
There's your reason right there. There is a much wider distribution of things to ask about in Norse myth than in most (if not all) other mythologies. There isn't a much wider distribution of figures to ask about in Norse myth. I'd guess that if you looked at a tournament set, the number of questions on Norse figures is roughly the same as that for Indian or Near Eastern or Egyptian figures (granted, it will probably be higher than for Celtic or Mesoamerican or African myth). The number of questions on things from Norse mythology will be higher than the number of questions on things from other mythologies, precisely because there are more things to ask about. If you want to start stipulating that every tournament have a question on the Argo, go ahead.

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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

setht wrote: There will never be a painting of Wodin Contemplating the Head of Bran inspired by Norse myth, precisely because there is no such thing in Norse myth. If you're looking for a painting featuring Odin and Mimir's head, you can buy one for $400 from http://www.stephanielaw.com/image/mimir.shtml
That would certainly explain why Bran was not an acceptable answer to that Mimir question at ACF Fall. I'm not sure whether to be embarassed or proud of showing misunderstanding of something I'm arguing should be asked about less.
I believe Wagner's Ring Cycle is considered a canonical work of art. Do you go through life ignoring Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays?

-Seth
Wagner was part of a Germanic culture and was deliberately trying to dig up the history of that culture and make it relevant again. You can't compare that to the sort of penetration that Classical mythology has. There are scores of Germanic artists who painted scenes from Greco-Roman mythology; while I'm sure you'll be able to dig up some Italian or Spaniard who did Norse-themed art, I'd be willing to bet that they are both fewer in number and lower in relevance.
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Post by grapesmoker »

Bruce wrote: That would certainly explain why Bran was not an acceptable answer to that Mimir question at ACF Fall. I'm not sure whether to be embarassed or proud of showing misunderstanding of something I'm arguing should be asked about less.
If there's one thing to be proud of, it's not understanding something.

Your case is already weak by virtue of the fact that Norse myth is not overrepresented by any stretch of the imagination, unless you consider any presence at all to be overrepresentation. Stop complaining already.
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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

grapesmoker wrote: Your case is already weak by virtue of the fact that Norse myth is not overrepresented by any stretch of the imagination, unless you consider any presence at all to be overrepresentation. Stop complaining already.
You've been playing a lot longer than I have, and I conceed that my personal experiences may be misleading, due to having hit a temporary patch of heavy Norse writing or something, but it is my experience that Norse myth comes up, relative to Non-Norse myth excepting Classical, much more than it did at Seth's singles tournament. That's all I'm basing this off, and I agree that it has a high potential to be flawed.
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Post by csrjjsmp »

We read a few packets in practice tonight, and I thought the questions were both well-written and mostly accessible. However, as far as diversity goes, I think it's still only a small step up from the myth distribution at your typical academic tournament (except for the Welsh and Gaelic sections, which seem to have gone out of control.) Maybe they will come later in the question set, but I would like to see questions on Zhu Ba Jie or Maui's jawbone rather than more of the same minor Greco-Roman characters or random Norse artifacts. Kusanagi hasn't even been mentioned yet.
Overall, great questions though.

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Post by Captain Sinico »

csrjjsmp wrote:...I would like to see questions on Zhu Ba Jie or Maui's jawbone rather than more of the same minor Greco-Roman characters or random Norse artifacts. Kusanagi hasn't even been mentioned yet.
You see, the issue with questions having those answers is that they are very, very hard.

MaS

PS: More questions on Zurvan Daregho-Chvadhata!

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Post by grapesmoker »

csrjjsmp wrote:but I would like to see questions on Zhu Ba Jie or Maui's jawbone rather than more of the same minor Greco-Roman characters or random Norse artifacts. Kusanagi hasn't even been mentioned yet.
That's what ACF Nationals is for. I assume we'll see you there?
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Post by Scipio »

As one of the ones who asked Seth about some of the sources he used for his tournament, I was duly impressed by the extensive bibliography that he gave. I'm familiar with some of them, but not with others, so I found his annotations useful. Likewise Susan's recommendations, with which I was largely unfamiliar, were very helpful.

In their spirit, I'd like to add a few of my own which I did not see on the lists, with citations on their proper funtion and utility (you'll see what I mean by that directly).

If you are completely clueless on either Greek or Norse mythology - as in, "I have no idea who this 'Thor' is" or "This 'Athene' ... who is she, again?" - then I would recommend starting out with a couple of really excellent children's books by the D'Aulaires: their Big Book of Greek Myths and Norse Myths, respectively (the former was given to me at age 8 and remains my single most cherished possession; it and the stories it told inclined me towards Classics, the road down which I tread today). Fortunately, the latter has just returned to print, so both can be bought for a grand total of thirty dollars. These books are heavily illustrated and thoroughly, thoroughly sanitised, but they tell the basics about both mythologies very well, and in a manner that is both easy to understand and to remember (the Greek work was required reading for the class I taught on Introduction to the Literature and History of Ancient Civilization). To this day I get tossups which I would still have gotten if all I knew of mythology came from these works; if you are looking to get a baseline, get-it-at-the-giveaway-or-maybe-second-clue, guaranteed-ten-points-per-(most) bonus knowledge, you can get it from these two.

Slightly deeper, but still aimed at juveniles, is Children of Odin, by Padraic Colum, which gets into Teutonic myth like Sigurd and Sigmund as well.

An adult intoduction to Celtic and Cymric myth can be found in T.W. Rolleston's Celtic Myths and Legends, though you might want to skip the introductory material; originally written in 1917, it has some ... interesting anthropological discussion that was innocent at the time but seems wildly inappropriate today (a sample includes his discussion on Irish red hair). Past that, his discussion of the major figures from Irish and Welsh myth is excellent and very readable; indeed, 100 percent of my Irish/Welsh knowledge comes from this book, whose sections on the Ulster cycle and Tuatha de Danaan I re-read on the way to the IO, and I was able to answer all of the non-Welsh celtic myth questions that came up (or all those to which I was not beaten). I bought it at the Chicago Open in 03 after growing sick at not knowing anything about Celtic Myth, and it seems to have fixed the problem; it can for you, too, I bet.

Some reference works that I like include J.E. Zimmerman's Dictionary of Classical Mythology and Pierre Grimal's work of the same name (translated from the French). Neither are as comprehensive as Graves, but both are more easily consulted (the former often includes citations, and the latter did as well in the original French, but these were excised in Penguin translation), and when compared with Graves both are overwhelmingly accurate. There is also Cassell's Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend by Orchard, which includes comprehensive citation (although the system of citation he employs takes some exercise) and is quite good, though the spelling may be irritating.

I hope some of you find these recommendations useful.
Seth Lyons Kendall
University of Memphis, 1993-1997
University of Kentucky, 1997-1999, 2000-2008

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Post by csrjjsmp »

I don't think being unfamiliar is the same as being hard. Perhaps they're simply from pantheons people aren't familiar with. I know nothing about Scottish/Welsh/whatever myth, so Cuchulainn, Rhiannon, Bran, or whoever were completely unfamiliar to me. Although I do appreciate the references which I will look at when I get a chance.
I guess it just irks me that it's considered reasonable to ask about some highway robber other than Procrustes whom Theseus met on the road to Athens but when I propose the second most important character in Journey to the West or Hawaiian creation myth, it's dismissed as "too hard."


Sadly Jerry, it doesn't we'll be sending a team to nationals this year.

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Post by Captain Sinico »

csrjjsmp wrote:I don't think being unfamiliar is the same as being hard. Perhaps they're simply from pantheons people aren't familiar with.
No, actually those are exactly the same thing.

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Post by Matt Weiner »

I guess it just irks me that it's considered reasonable to ask about some highway robber other than Procrustes whom Theseus met on the road to Athens but when I propose the second most important character in Journey to the West or Hawaiian creation myth, it's dismissed as "too hard."
I don't know where you got the idea that Maui doesn't come up; he does, precisely because there are good non-myth giveaways for him at even the high school level, and reasonable giveaways for him that are exclusively myth at the normal college level (anything that reduces to "name this Polynesian deity who isn't Pele" should garner a guess of Maui from moderately experienced players). As for the second most important character in Journey to the West, I propose that as Journey to the West is an important book, it's acceptable to ask a bonus on that figure and two easier answers even at a normal-level tournament let alone nationals, but a tossup, and thus an appearance in an all-tossup singles tournament, would simply have an unnacceptably low rate of conversion.
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Post by csrjjsmp »

ImmaculateDeception wrote:
csrjjsmp wrote:I don't think being unfamiliar is the same as being hard. Perhaps they're simply from pantheons people aren't familiar with.
No, actually those are exactly the same thing.
Ok, thank you.

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Post by csrjjsmp »

Matt Weiner wrote:I don't know where you got the idea that Maui doesn't come up
From never having heard a tossup about him :S

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Post by setht »

csrjjsmp wrote:I don't think being unfamiliar is the same as being hard. Perhaps they're simply from pantheons people aren't familiar with. I know nothing about Scottish/Welsh/whatever myth, so Cuchulainn, Rhiannon, Bran, or whoever were completely unfamiliar to me. Although I do appreciate the references which I will look at when I get a chance.
I guess it just irks me that it's considered reasonable to ask about some highway robber other than Procrustes whom Theseus met on the road to Athens but when I propose the second most important character in Journey to the West or Hawaiian creation myth, it's dismissed as "too hard."
I think Larry may be trying to draw a distinction between "unfamiliar" material that has not seen much (or any) mention in past quizbowl questions, and "hard" material which is minor/trivial/obscure within its pantheon (for instance, questions on Heimdall's sword Hofund—as far as I know, this sword only gets a passing mention in a couple stories, and I've heard it come up as a bonus part in more than one tournament). I think it's a worthwhile distinction to make.

Having said that, I don't think many people feel that tossups on Periphetes, Sciron or Sinis are reasonable, and I don't think I've ever heard such a tossup. I think a bonus part that asks for one of them is a reasonable thing, but, as Matt stated earlier, a bonus that has a part on Zhu Ba Jie should also be reasonable for most tournaments.

Larry, I think you'll find, if you go back and look through the questions after you guys finish playing them, that in general I did not try to test myth depth by choosing harder answers—rather, I focused on well-known answers and tried to find hard clues as lead-ins for those answers. I did not have a goal of introducing lots of new material to the canon by producing tossups with canon-expanding answers (on, for example, Bruce's beloved Borvo, Celtic god of springs, or on the hilt of his sword). I do not think such a goal would be conducive to an enjoyable singles tournament experience for the vast majority of players.

Finally, some of the material you've been longing for may show up later in the set—I'd recommend waiting until you've heard the whole thing before you comment on the apparent lack of coverage in certain areas. I know there are many areas that received little or no coverage, and I'll be interested to hear what people have to say about those areas, but it seems a bit silly to argue about the apparent absence of certain topics that are not, in fact, absent from the set.

-Seth

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Post by csrjjsmp »

setht wrote: Larry, I think you'll find, if you go back and look through the questions after you guys finish playing them, that in general I did not try to test myth depth by choosing harder answers—rather, I focused on well-known answers and tried to find hard clues as lead-ins for those answers. I did not have a goal of introducing lots of new material to the canon by producing tossups with canon-expanding answers (on, for example, Bruce's beloved Borvo, Celtic god of springs, or on the hilt of his sword). I do not think such a goal would be conducive to an enjoyable singles tournament experience for the vast majority of players.
I have indeed found this to be the case. I think the structure and difficulty of the questions in the set is perfect. I wasn't suggesting that you add in anything painfully obscure to make the tournament unpleasant for people. I'm just saying that it could ave been more diverse. I know I've heard tossups on Enkidu and Baba Yaga before, and I don't think those would be inappropriate. (maybe they even show up later in the set) Again, not hard answers, just ones that don't come up too often and might be nice to see in a dedicated myth tournament.

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Post by setht »

csrjjsmp wrote:I have indeed found this to be the case. I think the structure and difficulty of the questions in the set is perfect. I wasn't suggesting that you add in anything painfully obscure to make the tournament unpleasant for people. I'm just saying that it could ave been more diverse. I know I've heard tossups on Enkidu and Baba Yaga before, and I don't think those would be inappropriate. (maybe they even show up later in the set) Again, not hard answers, just ones that don't come up too often and might be nice to see in a dedicated myth tournament.
Larry, whenever you finish reading through the tournament, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on the overall level of diversity. I guess you could get some feel from looking at the numbers I posted earlier for the questions in each area, but I'm sure you'll have a better feel once you get through the set. Actually, I'd be interested in hearing anyone's opinions on this matter.

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