The legend of Robin Hood is a rich and varied mix of mythology and may well be one I return to on this blog at some point. Having written about the portrayal of the character on screen many years ago, I realise the intricacies of the story. On one level it is a seasonal cycle mythology: Summer/Winter Kings dying and being reborn. On another level, I wonder if there are not one or two jokes running just below the surface. The British have always enjoyed bawdy humour, the “Carry On” of double meaning and postcard innuendo, and it occurs that names such as Will(y) Scarlet and Little John could be humorous references to the penis. In some ways, so to, could be the main character: Robin Hood. Or this could be a reference to parts of the female sexual anatomy. The name Friar Tuck can also be played around with. The most intriguing is Maid Marion. In some ways she pulls this interpretation together. On a shallow level there is the wordplay in “made Marion”..a similar slang etymology to “had Marion”, ie, a boast of having enjoyed thre sexual favours of a particular woman, but a deeper reading is also possible. Beltaine, the Celtic festival from which the modern May Day derives was, in essence a fertility festival, where men and woman would frolic and “marry”, ie, have sex and, possibly, become partners awaiting births, etc. There are aspects associated with “a year and a day” concerning a man and a woman remaining together after their first union at Beltaine. I wonder if the name of Maid Marion is a corruption of May Marry-on, or May Merry-on, a distant memory coming down from pre-calander days but associated with the time of year that become our month of May and a festival full of bawdiness, sexual innuendo and carefree fun and games.
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