Terrouge E-zine Archives
Redwall Names II
Throughout the Redwall series, Brian Jacques's characters possess surprising definitions and real-world parallels hidden in shadow. Whether or not Brian Jacques actually know about them is debatable; but they are there, and once more I will unveil eyebrow-raising meanings of Redwall figures in . . .
Basil Stag Hare
Chances are you know that basil is an herb, which is fitting, due to Basil's love of food (It's also rather ironic, since he's allergic to thyme, which is in the same plant family as his namesake; you'd think he'd be affected by basil, too.). Basil, however, is a "real" name, and a distinct ruler of like moniker shares the same high-class battle talents as Brian Jacques's first hare. Basil I, a medieval emperor of Byzantium, used his astonishing skills as a military leader to drive out zealous Arab forces during his relatively short reign of about twenty years. As you may recall, Basil Stag Hare was also competent at both the tactic and fighting areas of warfare, illustrated by his wealth of strategies and good old Salamandastron foot fighting.
Despite the fact that he appeared in Mattimeo only for a mere few chapters, that was more than enough to show us that the eerie idol was downright evil, creepy enough to make your skin crawl and horrible enough to make you feel like a snake slithered down your throat and took up residence in your stomach. Incidentally, "evil statue" is virtually what Malkariss means, if you look at etymologies. Mal-, evident in words like malformed and malfunction, means, quite appropriately, "bad." The -kariss part sounds like a devolved form of karst, or a site of limestone--the same material Malkariss the statue is made of.
For a while--about thirteen seasons--John filled the respectable role of Abbey Recorder; it was a complicated and time-consuming task, but one he looked after nonetheless. Throughout history, there seem to be more writers named John than you could force into a single article (probably due to the fact that John is a common name, but that's beside the point): Paradise Lost's John Milton, The Pilgrim's Progress's John Bunyan . . . St. John wrote the gospel John (naturally) and also Revelation--and, while we're at it, he's also the patron of writers. But the John you probably know best is John Ronald Reuel ("J. R. R.") Tolkien, author of The Fellowship of the Ring and the other Middle Earth books. Writer of the valorous deeds of his furry-footed elfish creations, Tolkien penned allegorical events similar to those Mr. Churchmouse would have recorded, except with one major difference: Tolkien wrote fiction.
Rose's younger brother's name apparently is derived from bromegrass, or brome, a Eurasian plant that shares one distinct characteristic with Brome the mouse: "runaway." Before his capture and imprisonment at Marshank, Brome was a spirited wanderer, who was perhaps overly fond of running away from home. On a like note, bromegrass went rampant when it was introduced to North America. The plant spread like wildfire, becoming a common weed and taking over areas previously unaware of its existence.
MartinIn my last article, I mentioned that Sts. Martin and Matthias had "connections" like Redwall's Warriors of the same names, since the two humans are the Catholic patrons of drunkards and alcoholics, respectively. There is more to St. Martin than I let on, however; indeed, several oddities and similarities surround him and Redwall's first Champion. St. Martin, a fourth-century man from Tours, was a skilled and renowned soldier until he shed that life and became a peaceable Christian--which bizarrely mirrors the Warriormouse's giving up his sword and donning a Brother's habit. As a Christian, St. Martin performed miraculous cures for lepers and other suffering people. Although it was only a small detail scarcely mentioned in Redwall, Martin the Warrior also had a knack for doctoring: his tomb displays effigies of his "works of skilful healing" during his time at the Abbey.