Monday, September 30, 2013

Release the Kraken!

 I've wanted to write a post on sea monsters for a long time--specifically, I wanted to write one on the kraken. Unfortunately, it got lost in a host of my other ideas. After much ado, I've finally returned to the tentacled beast of terror.

Krakens are almost always beasts. I've never seen anyone do a sentient kraken; I'm sure it's been done somewhere, over the rainbow, but that's really not the point. This squid is almost always non-sentient.

Although modern movies have shown the kraken lurking in the Caribbean or the Mediterranean, the monster is of Norse decent. I will never know why it appeared in The Clash of the Titans; especially since the monster in the story of Perseus and Andromeda had a perfectly good Greek name (Cetus). But I desist. The kraken is the kind of monster that the Vikings faced, because they were tough and manly.

The kraken first comes into the picture in the epic adventures of Orvar Odds where the author describes a hideous creature called the Hafgufa. The Hafgufa was said to be the "greatest of sea beasts", and it could "swallow ships, whales and anything else it can reach".  The references to the kraken are mostly scientific after that. On old Norwegian scientific work from the thirteenth century refers to the kraken as being a monstrous creature, more like an island then an animal. None of these references mention it being a giant squid, which is a bit odd, since we are so used to the idea of the kraken being a giant squid.

It isn't until Carolus Linnaeus, the man who invented the classification system, that we have any mention of the kraken as a giant squid. Pause for a moment, to consider the fact that one of the first great modern scientists included the kraken in his classification of animals. Pure awesomeness. He defined the kraken was some sort of monstrous squid, rather then just some vague sea terror, like Charybdis.

That's all there is to say on krakens. Hope you all found that entertaining!

"Below the thunders of the upper deep 
Far far beneath the abyssal sea
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The kraken sleeps" - Tennyson 

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