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Kraken

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 4 months ago

The Kraken was originally a Norse myth, describing an island-sized sea monster seen off the coast of Norway and Iceland. It is part octopus and part crab, although others refer to it as a giant squid or Cuttlefish. First described in literature by the bishop of Bergen, in Natural History of Norway (1755). There are great similarities between the Kraken and Scylla, the sea monster in the Odyssey. Scylla the monster was created when Circe (who loved Glaucus) poisoned the bath water of the beauty, after Glaucus asked Circe for a love potion to force Scylla to return his love. In Ilium, Circe and Sycorax are one and the same.

 

Tennyson wrote "The Kraken" in 1830:

 

THE KRAKEN

 

Below the thunders of the upper deep;

Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,

His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep

The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee

About his shadowy sides: above him swell

Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;

And far away into the sickly light,

From many a wondrous grot and secret cell

Unnumber'd and enormous polypi

Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.

There hath he lain for ages and will lie

Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep,

Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;

Then once by men and angels to be seen,

In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

 

Tennyson's poem influenced Verne's use of the Kraken in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870). In the beginning of the book, the Nautilus is mistaken for a Kraken, and later in the text a battle occurs with a giant squid.

 

The are numerous similarities between Tennyson's Kraken and Lovecraft's Cthulhu in The Call of Cthulhu (1928): both are slumbering in the depths, the promise of the creatures rising up in the future (due to some geothermic/seismic eruption), and the description of the creature. Lovecraft specifically uses the image of a Cuttlefish to describe Cthulhu.

 

Kraken are mentioned in the Mahnmut story as he attempts to ellude one. Verne's Nautilus is mistaken for a Kraken in 20,000 leagues Under the Sea. G. K. Chesterton mentions both kraken and cuttlefish in the same sentence in The Wisdom of Father Brown as examples of sea monsters.

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