Kraken

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Kraken

Post  Admin on 10/27/2008, 1:13 am

Kraken


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.



Pen and wash drawing by malacologist Pierre Denys de Montfort, 1801 from the descriptions of French sailors reportedly attacked by such a creature off the coast of Angola.



Kraken is a supposed sea monster of vast size, said to have been seen off the coast of Norway and Iceland. The earliest extensive description was made by Erik Pontopiddan, bishop of Bergen, in his Natural History of Norway (1755), but the name can be traced to the end of the 16th century. Kraken is the definite article form of krake (in the Scandinavian languages, definite articles are made by suffixes), a word designating an unhealthy animal, and etymologically related to crook and crank.
Early accounts, including Pontopiddan's, describe Kraken as an animal "the size of a floating island," and the real danger for sailors was not the creature itself, but the whirlpool it created after quickly descending back into the ocean. Kraken was always distinct from more serpentine sea monsters, also common in Norwegian lore. A representative early description is given by the Swede Jacob Wallenberg in his book Min son på galejen ("My son on the galley") from 1781:

... Kraken, also called the Crab-fish, which [according to the pilots of Norway] is not that huge, for heads and tails counted, he is no larger than our Öland is wide [i.e. less than 16 km] ... He stays at the sea floor, constantly surrounded by innumerable small fishes, who serve as his food and is fed by him in return: for his meal, if I remember correctly what E. Pontoppidan writes, last no longer than three months, and another three are then needed to digest it. His excrements nurture in the following an army of lesser fish, and for this reason, fishermen plumb after his resting place ... Gradually, Kraken ascend to the surface, and when he is at ten to twelve fathoms, the boats had better move out of his vicinity, as he will shortly thereafter burst up, like a floating island, spurting water from his dreadful nostrils and making ring waves around him, which can reach many miles. Could one doubt that this is the Leviathan of Job?
The name Kraken never appear in the Norse sagas. Yet, there are corresponding sea monsters, such as two creatures called hafgufa and lyngbakr described in Örvar-Odds saga (the former is also mentioned in Konungs Skuggsjá). Possibly, Kraken is a euphemism adopted for a later development of such creatures.
Since the late 18th century, Kraken has been depicted in a number of ways, primarily as a large octopus-like creature, and it has often been alleged that Pontoppidan's Kraken might have been based on sailors' observations of the giant squid. The earliest descriptions of the creature were more crab- than octopus-like, however, and generally take on traits that associated with large whales rather than giant squids.
In 1802, however, the French malacologist Pierre Denys de Montfort in Historie Naturalle Générale et Particulière des Mollusques, an encyclopedic description of mollusks, recognized the existence of two kinds of giant octopus. One being the kraken octopus, which Denys de Montfort believed had been described not only by Norwegian sailors and American whalers, but also by ancient writers such as Pliny the Elder. The second one being the much larger colossal octopus (the one actually depicted by the image) which reportedly attacked a sailing vessel from Saint-Malo off the coast of Angola. In defense of Denys de Montfort, it should be noted that many of his sources for the "kraken octopus" probably described the very real giant squid, proved to exist in 1878.
The Kraken by Tennyson
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 man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.
In 1830, possibly aware of Denys de Montfort's work, Alfred Tennyson published his popular poem "The Kraken" (essentially an irregular sonnet), which disseminated Kraken in English (note however, that the Kraken is actually superfluous). Tennyson's description apparently influenced Jules Verne's imagined lair of the famous giant squid in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea from 1870. Verne also makes numerous references to Kraken in the novel.
It is not unlikely to suppose that Tennyson's portrayal of Kraken also influenced the 20th century horror writer H. P. Lovecraft in his description of the octopus-headed sea monster Cthulhu, which is currently trapped at the bottom of the ocean, until strange æons shall bring about its return to the surface; and which in his short story The Call of Cthulhu is encountered by a Norwegian sailor.
It has been claimed by some that the Watcher in the Water in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring was based on Kraken. This view have been contested by others, who note that the tentacles of Tolkien's monster is nowhere described as octopus-like, and might not even belong to a single creature. In the 2001 film version by Peter Jackson, the Watcher is clearly more similar to our modern view of Kraken.
In the 1981 film Clash of the Titans, "Kraken" is given as the name of the creature that is sent to kill Andromeda. In fact this monster, slain by Perseus, was typically referred to as a "ketos" by the ancient Greeks, a word that is best translated by the English phrase "sea monster". The ketos has no historic connection with Kraken.
Kraken, either alone or as a collective of "krakens" (the Norwegian plural, which is never used, would be kraker), has appeared in many games, such as the RPG Dungeons & Dragons and in the computer game Age of Mythology.
USS Kraken (SS-370) was a United States submarine, named after Kraken.
The Kraken Wakes is a 1953 apocalyptic science fiction novel by John Wyndham. Its title is a synopsis of Tennyson's poem and its plot involves extraterrestials attacking humanity from the depths of the sea.
Kraken is also the name of a giant red octopus in Sega's popular video game, The Ocean Hunter. In the game, Kraken is reported to have sunk 4 ships and killed 185 people. A reward of 5000G is posted for its head in the game.
A rollercoaster at Seaworld, Orlando is also named Kraken, after this beast.
In the Nickelodeon cartoon "Catscratch", Gordon battles the Kraken in order to gain a full size tail.[edit]


See also



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Re: Kraken

Post  Admin on 10/27/2008, 1:13 am

Kraken

by Micha F. Lindemans
In Norwegian sea folklore, the Kraken is an enormous sea monster which would sometimes attack ships and feed upon the sailors. It was supposed to be capable of dragging down the largest ships and when submerging could suck down a vessel by the whirlpool it created. It is part octopus and part crab, although others refer to it as a giant squid or cuttlefish. (See also: Sea Serpent.) It was first described by Pontoppidan in his History of Norway (1752).

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