11 December 2009

A reader of Andrew Sullivan's blog opines:

The photo of the Iranian men wearing green hijabs to honor Majid Tavakoli made me think of the great Middle English epic Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
During his quest, Gawain broke his promise to share everything he acquired in Sir Bertilak's castle in order to conceal and keep a lady's green girdle, which he was told had the magical power to save his life. For that very human and understandable lapse in chivalry, the Green Knight nicked Gawain's neck slightly with his axe, when he would otherwise have spared him entirely. Ashamed of his partial failure, Gawain wore the girdle as a baldric and told the whole court at Camelot of his shame. Impressed by his bravery and humility, all the Knights of the Round Table decided from that day forth to wear green baldrics in fellowship with Gawain, to honor him.
They are very different stories from very different times and cultures, but the parallels -- a hunted man wearing a woman's garment to escape mortal danger, that fact being held up as a mark of shame, and his peers wearing similar garments (green, even) to turn them into a badge of honor -- are fascinating to me. I wonder if the Gawain story once had some basis in fact, and if the heroes of the Green Revolution will one day be the subject of Persian epic poetry.


I hope so. Maybe the story of Rostam and Sohrab will be bundled with Majid and his Green Companions and sold cheaply whereever Iranians live.

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