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Mazes and Labyrinths

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Author Topic: Mazes and Labyrinths  (Read 1874 times)
Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #165 on: April 04, 2009, 11:59:05 pm »

worldly life, which can only be safely traversed by means of the Ariadne thread of divine grace.

The design in this case is of a peculiar type, but it may be very easily derived from the simple split-ring or "Pigs in Clover" design (Fig. 144).

We have in the two cases just mentioned, as in the case of the pavement labyrinths, an association with the
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Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #166 on: April 04, 2009, 11:59:39 pm »



FIG. 71.--Labyrinth Device of Archbishop of Embrun. (After C. Paradin.)

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Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #167 on: April 04, 2009, 11:59:51 pm »

Church or with ecclesiastics. At the same time we know that, in England at any rate, the turf mazes were used for sportive purposes in the days of Elizabeth, and there is, so far, a lack of contemporary reference to their employment in a devotional or penitential capacity. "Treading" or "threading" the maze was a favourite game for several generations. Seeing that the path in the turf maze has as a rule no branches or dead-ends, the sport in question would appear to have been rather simple in

p. 98

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Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #168 on: April 05, 2009, 12:00:10 am »

character, unless we imagine the participants to have been blindfolded for the purpose or primed with a tankard or two of some jocund beverage.

Let us refer once more to that chapter of Pliny's "Natural History" in which he says that we must not compare the Egyptian and other labyrinths with "what we see traced on our mosaic pavements or to the mazes formed in the fields for the entertainment of children." The italicised words clearly show that the construction of something akin to our turf mazes was practised by the Romans. It seems very reasonable to infer that, if the custom were so common as Pliny seems to imply, it would have been carried to the Roman colonies in these islands. An argument which has often been brought forward in this connection is that from very early times the game of Troy, the lusus Trojae, was played by Roman youths. Virgil describes it in the fifth book of his "Aeneid," and draws attention to the similarity between the mazy windings of this sport--which was performed on horseback--and the sinuous path of the Cretan labyrinth (see Chapter XVIII). The inference drawn from this is that our "Troy-towns" and the sports connected with them are in the direct line of descent from this classic game and are therefore a legacy of the Roman occupation of Britain.

Dr. Stukeley, whom we had occasion to mention with reference to the Horncastle maze, suggested that the term Julian's Bower was derived from the name of Iulus, the son of Aeneas, who is described as having taken part in the game. We see, then, that there is a good deal to be said for the claim of a Roman origin.

Assuming for the moment that such was the case, we are faced with some difficulty in accounting for the preservation throughout the intervening ages of a class of earthwork which, without attention, is liable to become effaced in a few decades.

Is it likely that the Britons, after the Roman recall,

p. 99

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Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #169 on: April 05, 2009, 12:00:38 am »

would trouble to preserve the playgrounds of their late rulers' children? Is it at all probable that the successive waves of immigrants, Anglo-Saxons, Danes and Norse-men, would concern themselves with the maintenance of such alien frivolities?

Is there not a chance that perhaps some of these invaders brought the custom with them?

If we had to rely solely on our own historical records, we should find it extremely difficult to arrive at any conclusion in the matter. Researches of recent decades have, however, rendered it possible to approach the matter from a much wider angle, and, before we attempt any further to inquire into the origin of our own turf mazes, we shall find it necessary to go back very far indeed in the history of European civilisation, and to look at the question of labyrinth origins from another point of view.

Before doing so, however, we will review a development which, in the eyes of the archaeologist an insignificant side-line, is perhaps to many readers a matter of greater interest than anything we have yet dealt with, embracing as it does that type of labyrinth which is familiar to all in the famous Hampton Court specimen.



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