It’s become apparent that I’m too distracted by something on Sunday nights to regularly add scroll texts, so I’m just going to add them whenever I feel like it.
This particular text was given out last weekend at Calontir’s Crown Tournament. It’s a Silver Hammer for Mar, who lost in the finals to His Highness Damien MacGavin. The Silver Hammer is an award given to people who are skilled craftsmen in things like woodworking, brewing, metalwork, smithing, and such. In Mar’s case it was his crafting of musical instruments and coronets.
One of the most fun aspects of writing scroll texts for me is forcing myself to write in a poetic style that is not my normal style. My normal style, by the way, is Old English alliterative, as shown by the riddle at the end of I Am a Wondrous Thing.
Whenever I am asked to write a text for someone, my first question is, “What is their persona?” In other words, what time and place do they focus on? This tells me what poetic styles I should research in order to write a poem that suits the recipient. Mar’s persona is that of a Varangian, hence his award would come from a Byzantine emperor. So I look around at Byzantine poetic styles and in this case, I chose the 15-syllable iambic Byzantine epic style. Some choices are easier than others. Some are not. This was not.
As a side note, I am often asked why I don’t tend to write scroll texts in a more legal style. After all, these are legal documents. My answer is that legalese is legalese is legalese. The function of legal documents creates a dry structure that transcends time and place. I just think that poetry allows me the option of doing something far cooler than legalese. I can write in legalese, and I have, often enough, but it’s not my preference.
Anyway, back to Mar’s Silver Hammer text. Here it is, with some annotations. Like my annotated snippets, the annotations are indented and italicized.
Mar – Silver Hammer
Arrayed in heartland’s tagma are proud valiant cataphractoi
Tagma is a word meaning elite soldiers, like the Tagma ton Varangoi. Combined with the word cataphract, which is heavy armored cavalry, I’m referring to the chivalry of Calontir.
Ashir its Basileus strong leads spears and swords a-glitter
Its Basilissa Ashland rides beside as falcons soar high
Basileus and Basilissa are the words for Emperor and Empress.
Such that bold topoteretes like Már í Miklagarði,
Topoteretes is a leader in the tagma, again, a reference to him being a knight.
So deadly foes away full seven hundred paces fear him,
In Calontir’s constellation slight single star afar seem
But Warriors do not make realms whole, as known by rulers wise all
So clever Basileus grand and bright-eyed Basilissa
Bright-eyed here is a reference to Athena, which is totally anachronistic even for Byzantine but I thought it was fun.
Rejoice in Calontir adorned with elegance and honor,
Aflame in golden glories great and gowns in pearls bedecked fine
The rulers Chrysotriklinos well cherish all such treasure
Chrysotriklinos is the grand reception hall of the Great Palace of Constantinople. In this case, it’s a reference to Their Majesties.
Rewarding craftsmen skilled with gold and favors of the purple
In Byzantine times the purple was a reference to the Emperor. It seems to perfect not to use as a phrase for someone in Calontir getting something.
But certain jewels glittering surprise august Sebastoi
Ton Sebaston is a way to refer to the Emperor. In this case, I pluralized it to refer to both of Calontir’s Majesties. Also, the certain jewels is a reference to Mar’s metalwork.
And melodies radiant afloat from strings and woodcraft carved fair
A reference to some musical instruments Mar has made.
The artisan so skilled is known for dire hands sinister strong
Beloved of deathless northern rose and treasure of the falcon
So Calon Autokrators keen, the lords of running horses,
Autokrator is yet another term for Emperor, and lords of running horses is a reference to Their Mongol personas.
To Már í Miklagarði grant the title vestitor proud
Vestitors were officials of the Imperial wardrobe, and later this became a fairly low honorary title. They were also the wardens of the Imperial crown. Seemed like an appropriate Byzantine analogue for the Silver Hammers.
As called in Mar’s far northern home a skillful Silver Hammer.
Before all dignities whether proclaimed or once awarded
Titles in the Byzantine Empire were deemed proclaimed or awarded.
In Basileia ton Rhomaion, They decree forever
The Basileia ton Rhomaion was the Roman Empire.