Wednesday, November 23, 2011

'The Chronicle of the Czechs'

Like most medieval chronicles, 'The Chronicle of the Czechs' follows human memory from prehistory, through the dim and distant past, to stories told by the elders and finally to the author's present day (in this case, approximately 1125). The pattern of myth to legend to hearsay to history often makes an engaging read, as with Saxo Grammaticus. Here the author, Cosmas of Prague, segues from the Bible (the Tower of Babel and the flood) to Greek myth (including Odysseus and Medea) to dragons, witches, soothsayers and, eventually, archbishops and noble dukes. This odd and enjoyable mix includes biblical references, classical tales and anecdotes from the history of any area that, inexplicably, is still a mystery to most of us. Highly recommended.

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