Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gloranthan Legend: The Bull Hunt of Murharzarm

This is a strange, almost universal legend, which appears in myths throughout Western and Central Genertela. The generally-agreed details are this: an enemy or rival of the Emperor god (most often Murharzarm) let loose a great bull upon the world. The bull was a chthonic beast, equal in power to gods. It ravaged the lands, slaying many mortals, and in most versions was responsible for the creation of the Elder Wilds. The Emperor sent out a call for aid, which was answered by gods, demigods and heroes, who set out to hunt the bull, across the entire world. Most legends cover only the trials of the particular focus of the legend, with some interaction with friends and rivals. In all cases, the particular god or hero has to fall out of the hunt, as a result of injury, trickery or distraction. Often, the interactions of the protagonists contradict each other (eg in the legend of Orlanth’s participation, he was tricked by his brother Ragnaglar, whereas the legends of Yelmalio and High King Elf both put the reason for Orlanth’s withdrawal down to those figures). All the legends agree that a victor caught the bull and brought it back to the Emperor, who skinned it and took the hide as a trophy, but no legend actually says who the victor was.

Because of the various conflicts, some scholars have theorized that the Bull-Hunt is the result of God Learner myth-conflation. The myth is almost always set in the pre-Gods War Godtime, but Waha has a myth as well, as do some First Age heroes. Some theorists even suggest that the mystery of the victor indicates the God Learners erased a god from myth, although this is regarded as unlikely by most. A less extreme theory suggests that the God Learners changed the myth of the victor into a failure, leaving a “blank god” as the victor, presumably to “map” a figure of their own into the myth. Most scholars suggest instead that the legend has simply been lost, but could be discovered by a determined HeroQuest.

Because most of the legends involve failure in some way, this myth is rarely HeroQuested.

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