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In Search of the Man of Gold... El Dorado

The term "El Dorado" usually refers to a mythical city of gold located somewhere in South America but it originally referred to a single person, a man of gold. The new chief of a certain South American tribe would cover himself in gold dust and dive into the lake in order to appease the gods. When the Spaniards heard of this practice, the story grew in the telling until the chief was leader of an entire city of gold. If the chief and tribe had ever existed, it has long since been lost to memory when Sir Walter Raleigh arrives in the New World. He begins his search for El Dorado in the region called Guiana. He finds a lake but not much gold. He will mount a second expedition several years later. [1] [2] [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Many have spent their lives and fortunes in the search for El Dorado. When Sir Walter Raleigh returned years later he sent his son into the jungle to continue the search but the young man was killed while attacking a Spanish outpost. Sir Walter returned to England a broken man. Fearing another war with Spain, King James had Raleigh beheaded for the attack on their outpost. Was there ever an El Dorado? Maybe the man painted in gold dust once existed, but very few explorers found the amounts of gold that the first Spanish expeditions took from the Aztecs and the Incas. Nevertheless, future expeditions benefited because a lot of South America was explored and mapped in this way.

The New Sultan Has 19 Fewer Brothers *

The transition of power in the Ottoman Empire has always been a shaky one. Once the Sultan dies it is a race to power and the winner cannot reliably buy off his competitors who are his brothers from multiple mothers. With so many potential usurpers, a new Sultan has traditionally murdered his male siblings, but with 19 murdered brothers, it is a blood bath as Mehmed the 3rd comes to power. The decline of the Ottoman Empire continues. [5] [6]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Well... I was going to say something snide about tradition, but there is a reason why they do this. In a previous succession, the wrong brother made it to the throne first, and the latecomer was bought off at a considerable cost. He remained an embarrassment for a long time, even joining forces with the Pope. Then the brother organized an army and attacked the Sultan. If one can't buy off a competitor, all one can do is to destroy him or be destroyed. That is why all the brothers were destroyed but it created a lot of resentful mothers. Those mothers could throw a lot of sand into the gears so Mehmet the 3rd had his mother murdered as well as his own son.

Romeo! Oh Romeo! It's the Prequel to Westside Story!

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet makes its debut. It is a retelling of an Arthur Brooke poem, The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliette. The young Romeo of the Montague family falls in love with the fair Juliet of the Capulet family after he sneaks into a dance put on by her father. With both families at war with each other, what can young lovers do? Juliet's cousin, Tybalt, challenges Romeo to a duel but he refuses. Romeo's friend, Mercutio (mur-KYEW-shee-oh), takes the challenge and in the midst of the duel, Romeo watches his friend slump to the ground, dead. Romeo kills Tybalt in turn. Juliet sees the impossibility of openly marrying Romeo so she fakes her own death and sends a message to Romeo that he should run away with her but he never gets the memo. Romeo, thinking that Juliet is really dead, drinks poison. Juliet awakens from her drug-induced coma to find Romeo dead and stabs herself in the heart. The surviving families feel like total creeps and stop their feuding. The End. Author! Author! Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is a great improvement on the original poem and it remains one of his most popular plays. [7] [8] [9]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Romeo and Juliet has been adapted to a musical called, Westside Story. It's the Jets against the Sharks and this time Maria and Tony fall in love. Spoiler alert! Tony's friend, Riff, is killed in a duel with Maria's brother, Bernardo. Tony kills Bernardo in turn. Maria sends a message to Tony to run away with her but he doesn't get the message. He is told that Maria has been killed by Chino so Tony hunts him down and is shot by Chino. Tony dies in Maria's arms. Maria grabs Chino's gun. It's a close thing but she drops to her knees. A shawl is draped over her, giving the impression of a nun in prayer. The question left unanswered is the same: "Was all the anger and intolerance worth the price?" [10] [11] [12]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1595, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. The Guianas - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 18 June 2015. “Walter Raleigh began the exploration of the Guianas in earnest in 1594. He was in search of a great golden city at the headwaters of the Caroní River. A year later he explored what is now Guyana and eastern Venezuela in search of 'Manoa', the legendary city of the king known as El Dorado. Raleigh described the city of El Dorado as being located on Lake Parime far up the Orinoco River in Guyana.”
  2. (1910) "The Discovery of Guiana, 1595", Voyages and Travels: Ancient and Modern, with Introductions, Notes and Illustrations, C. W. Ellot (editor), The Harvard Classics, New York: P. F. Collier and Son. Retrieved on 18 June 2015. “The Discovery of the large, rich, and beautiful Empire of Guiana; with a Relation of the great and golden City of Manoa, which the Spaniards call El Dorado, and the Provinces of Emeria, Aromaia, Amapaia, and other Countries, with their rivers, adjoining. Performed in the year 1595 by Sir Walter Raleigh, Knight, Captain of her Majesty's Guard, Lord Warden of the Stannaries, and her Highness' Lieutenant-general of the County of Cornwall.” 
  3. El Dorado - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 19 June 2015. “A second location for El Dorado was inferred from rumors, which inspired several unsuccessful expeditions in the late 1500s in search of a city called Manöa on the shores of Lake Parime. The most famous of these expeditions were led by Sir Walter Raleigh. In pursuit of the legend, Spanish conquistadors and numerous others searched Colombia, Venezuela, and parts of Guyana and northern Brazil for the city and its fabulous king. In the course of these explorations, much of northern South America, including the Amazon River, was mapped.”
  4. El Dorado Legend. National Geographic (2015). Retrieved on 19 June 2015. “The Spaniards didn't find El Dorado, but they did find Lake Guatavita and tried to drain it in 1545. They lowered its level enough to find hundreds of pieces of gold along the lake's edge.”
  5. Decline and Fall (BOOK), Byzantium, Alfred A. Knopf. “(note 1) Sultan Mehmet III, on his accession in 1595, had no fewer than nineteen of his brothers strangled, together with six pregnant slaves, their favourites from the harem. (Later he also killed his mother and his son, but that was not part of the tradition.)” 
  6. Mehmed III - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 22 March 2015. “Mehmed III remains notorious even in Ottoman history for having nineteen of his brothers and half-brothers executed to secure power. They were all strangled by his deaf-mutes.”
  7. Romeo and Juliet - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 9 June 2015. “Believed to have been written between 1591 and 1595, the play was first published in a quarto version in 1597. This text was of poor quality, and later editions corrected it, bringing it more in line with Shakespeare's original.”
  8. BROOKE'S 'ROMEUS AND JULIET' BEING THE ORIGINAL OF SHAKESPEARE'S 'ROMEO AND JULIET'. Shakespeare-Navigators.com. Duffield and Company (1908). Retrieved on 19 June 2015. “Shakespeare's primary source for Romeo and Juliet was Arthur Brooke's Romeus and Juliet, first published in 1562, two years before Shakespeare's birth, and reprinted in 1587, about eight years before the first performance of Romeo and Juliet.”
  9. McKittrik, Ryan (January 2006). How Romeus Became Romeo. American Repertory Theater News. 3. http://americanrepertorytheater.org/inside/articles/articles-vol4-i3-how-romeus-became-romeo. Retrieved 19 June 2015. "Shakespeare saw in Brooke's rambling poem the potential for a play teeming with passion and conflict; but turning Brooke's poetry into compelling drama required extraordinary transformation and invention.". 
  10. Madonna - definition of Madonna (2015). Retrieved on 21 June 2015. “The Virgin Mary, especially as depicted in art.”
  11. Archetype - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 19 June 2015. “a constantly recurring symbol or motif in literature, painting, or mythology (this usage of the term draws from both comparative anthropology and Jungian archetypal theory).”
  12. Madonna - definition of Madonna (2015). Retrieved on 21 June 2015. “The Virgin Mary, especially as depicted in art.”

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