Your RDA of Irony

The Compleat Angle


Yesterday, as part of Barbarian Week, the History Channel presented a program on the Saxons.

Episcopalians would not be flattered; fortunately, they probably were all watching the Golf Channel.  Their Angle-Saxon ancestors were accurately described as the most primitive louts among the Germanic tribes.  By comparison, the Vandals read Proust and played Cole Porter.

The other barbarian tribes actually admired Roman culture; sacking was just their expression of appreciation.  Only the Angle-Saxons were intent on eradicating all traces of classical civilization.  If you don’t believe me, just talk to yourself.  What do you hear?  A Romance language?  NOPE.  If the Angle-Saxons had shown a little refinement, we now would be speaking Brittic and sound like Barry Fitzgerald reciting Dante.

For the first 58.75 minutes of the television program, the Angle-Saxons were described in unrelenting detail as blood-thirsty louts. They certainly were not the valedictorian of barbarians. After destroying Londinium, the Saxons decided that it might be a nice place to live.  Yet, in the last minute of the show, after depicting the Saxons as the cultural inferiors of Neanderthals, the narrator breathlessly gushes that “their laws and institutions” were the basis of our civilization.

Actually, the only laws and institutions shown were the human sacrifices for Wotan. However, with that legacy, it does explain NASCAR and American Idol.

Yet, it seems a rather abrupt transistion from Wotan to Somerset Maugham.  I would have inserted a few anachronisms to hint at England’s potential and future.  Imagine a war council where the chieftains are debating the axe expenditures for the next year.

Aethelwurst of Anglia:  I do hope the axes of Essex are sharper than the arguments of the right honorable elderman.

Wulfmittel of Essex:  As always, my friend from Anglia is more generous with his hopes than with anything practical.   

Better yet, I would have depicted the Angle-Saxon invasions as an episode from Masterpiece Theater.  Sailing across the North Sea to Britannia, the officers are looking longingly at each other and singing:

Of course, in those days it would have been called the Wotan Boating Song.

(Be warned, the song takes nearly as long as the Angle-Saxon conquest.)

  1. Rey Hinckley says:

    I listened to the Eton College Boat song and thought that it was sung in three part cacophony. If anyone could post the lyrics it might make more sense. But then again maybe the singers were drunk while singing the song. Another tradition.

  2. Well, it is a 1500 year-old recording and they are singing in Eld Anglische.

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