(urth) Honor

Michael Straight mfstraight at gmail.com
Fri Nov 25 15:56:03 PST 2005

On 11/23/05, Roy C. Lackey <rclackey at stic.net> wrote:
> Ah, but that flies in the face of the very basis of the concept of "trial by
> combat" in all its variations. From Lancelot's defense of Guinevere to all
> those childish, petulant, indefensible defenses against all comers of that
> mountain pass by Able in TWK, the underlying assumption is that might does,
> in fact, make right.

There is this one case where we see what I might call "might makes
right" where Able goes to defend the pass and challenge all comers.

Able plans to guard a pass and challenge any knight who seeks to
cross, the winner keeping the loser's armor, horse, and weapons.   In
this sense, right makes might because a man who could challenge a
knight this way and defeat him was a better fighter, more fit to wear
the armor and carry the weapons.  And in that society, the primary
value of a knight is that he be skilled in combat.

So in that narrow sense, the mightier man has the right to the armor
and weapons of the other.  But only because a knight's armor and
weapons are not simply his personal property, but property he wields
on behalf of the whole society.  And if another man can better defend
society with them, he must relinquish them to that other man.

My impression is that Able's plan is seen in Mythgarthian society as
something like a violin player in an orchestra challenging the
first-chair for his seat.  He is seeking to deprive the musician of
his place and livelihood (and possibly his instrument -- in some
orchestras the first chair gets to play a rare masterpiece owned by
the orchestra or its patrons).  But the musician's plight takes a back
seat to the need for the orchestra to have the best possible
musicians.  In the orchestra, "skill makes right."

-- Rostrum

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