Sunday, February 14, 2010

Invisibility Cloaks

Back to the 13 Treasures of Britain and....we present the 13th and second to last of the 13 treasures!  I know, counting is not my strong point, but trust me.

The Mantle of Arthur in Cornwall (Llen Arthyryng Nghernyw) is a cloak that when worn, whoever was under it could not be seen.  Sounds a lot like the cloak that Harry Potter has, right?  Well, a lot of people make a big connection to the Hallows in Harry Potter and the 13 Treasures.  With J. K. Rowling's other mythology allusions, it is quite possible that this connection is real and not just a coincidence.

The word "Llen" could be translated in a variety of ways.  At, they give a fuller discussion, but to boil it down to a nutshell, instead of it meaning "mantle," it could mean "carpet," in which case anyone standing on the carpet disappears.  Seems a bit odd and rather useless to me, but then again, many of these treasures are a bit strange.  Other translations of the word llen could be sheet, curtain, or veil.  Of all of these, it seems that mantle would be the most logical for this particular treasure.

I would show you a picture of it, but getting a picture of an invisibility cloak is akin to drawing a polar bear in a snow storm.

It is not the only invisibility devise in mythology.  Caswallan is another Brit who had a cloak of invisibility.  He used it to attack Caradog who was steward for the king.  Caswallan did not wish to hurt Caradog, since they were kinsmen, but when what appeared to be a floating sword killed six men around him, Caradog died of grief.

Hades had a helmet of invisibility.  Perseus had a cap of invisibility.  There is a Russian folk tale that has a hat of invisibility, however, this one makes the wearer blind as well.  The Tarnhelm is a helmet in Norse mythology that makes its wearer invisible.  

While not exactly mythology, Plato made a story of an invisibility ring called the Ring of Gyges.  The story goes something like this: a shepherd worked for the king.  One day, while he was minding his own business, the ground cracks open.  This revealed an opening that contained a dead body with a ring.  The shepherd (named Gyges) took the ring and left.  Later he is sitting before the king waiting to tell him how the sheep are doing.  He finds that when he turns the ring on his finger, it makes him invisible.  He later seduces the queen and kills the king to take his place.  Sounds like Lord of the Rings to me.  My Precioussss.

I'm sure I'm leaving something out.  Can any of you think of an item that turns people invisibile in mythology?

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