Elements in Lit 201: Today’s Lesson – Weaponry

Filed in BLI Features , Elements in Lit , The Quirky Lover Posted on January 18, 2012 @ 12:16 pm 17 comments

First off, let me start with a slight apology for the last post. It was a confusing one at best but I may have made it worse. I totally blame the cold meds! Anyway, we’ll take a look again at forms of address down the road with a more concise (less medicated) list.

For today though, I wanted to look at something different. I’ve been feeling a bit feisty, listening to zombie apocalypse audiobooks and such. I think there would be a great cathartic release at being able to wield a weapon against a foe (though, I’d probably be squeamish when it came right down to it.) To this end, I thought we’d take a look at weapons we might find in stories through the ages.

 The catapult is a legendary tool, used in the Middle Ages to lay sieges on many castles. This one is a bit bulky to be carried around, but most certainly caused its fair share of damage over the years. If you would like to learn some history on the catapult, check out this site: Catapults

 The mace is, in my opinion, one of the more brutal looking weapons. It was popular in medieval times and would have left all sorts holes in armor and in people, I would imagine. These are two variations of the mace shown above.  The one with the chains is my fave 🙂

This broadsword is a Roman version, but many other types were used throughout the Middle Ages.  This site claims that the typical weight of a broadsword was about 3-5 pounds, but in other books I’ve read, these swords could be even heavier, needing two hands to wield them properly.

I was surprised to learn that the origin of the crossbow was China in around 300 BCE. The Romans had their own versions but they weren’t as refined as the Chinese models. And did you know that the name for a crossbow maker is an “Arbalistmeister’?

The rapier is a favourite in European historicals as well as swash-buckling tales. According to this site, the rapier was actually used by civilians for duels and/or self-defense, and was often accompanied by a dagger in the other hand. It originated around the 15th century.

The throwing star is a weapon we associate with martial arts, and of course, ninjas. They are actually known as “shurikens” and their history is veiled in shadows, according to this site, but its design is similar to “the four-cornered, iron reinforcing plates that backed up the heads of the spikes used in the joining of timbers in castle and fortress construction.”  Those ninjas sure art crafty!

The Thomson M1, affectionately known as the Tommy Gun, is a must have for gangsters in the early part of the 20th century. In truth, it was used by both the gangsters and the police during prohibition, as well as used throughout World War 2 and other wars over a thirty year period. (Check out here for more info.) The Tommy Gun is a submachine gun, not fully automatic but almost.

The hunting knife is a popular tool to have with you if you are holding someone hostage, lost in the wilderness, or perhaps a (fictional) serial killer. It’s portable, light weight, and compact. The hunting knife is one of many variations of blades that would have originated with the first stone created blade during the Stone Age.

The Beretta 9mm is a truly modern weapon, in comparison to the others here, but even it has been discontinued. It was a popular choice by militaries throughout the world, despite a fantastical tale you can read about here. There are still variations of it out there in the world, but like everything else, has been replaced by improved technology. Incidentally, Beretta, the company, has been around since the 1500’s!

The scythe (pronounced with a silent “c”…this was more for my own curiousity, as I usually read it more like “skythe” :p ): is it a tool for grim reapers the world over or the perfect tool for gardening? I’ll leave that for you to decide, though there is a group set on the scythe making a comeback in the latter form (see here) 😉

What do you think of these awesome, yet scary looking weapons? Do you have one you’ve read about and always wanted to try? Did I miss any of your favourites? In the previous mentioned zombie audiobook, World War Z, there is mention of one person rollerblading down the street with a hockey stick covered with a meat clever on each side. Cool right?  Whether weapons are based  in factual history or just a crazy imagined set up by an author, there’s no shortage of literature to support their need.

About Jackie

Jackie is a quirky mom, living in Ontario, Canada. She's a bookkeeper by day and a book lover by night. She also blogs at The Novel Nation and writes occasionally for Heroes and Heartbreakers.

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  • blodeuedd January 18, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Silent c? So it is sythe? Huh, weird. I did not know that

    • Jackie January 18, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      Yeah, the dictionary shows it as (sith) with the long “i” indicated (I wasn’t sure how to reproduce that here, lol.) I’m glad I wasn’t the only one 🙂

      • Sheree January 18, 2012 at 4:17 pm

        I think of it as sigh-th

        • Jackie January 18, 2012 at 4:34 pm

          That’s exactly it! 🙂

  • Celine January 18, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    Haha, I love this post!

    I can totally see myself wielding a crossbow, shooting away at zombies. A scythe might a be a little bit too messy for my taste..

    • Jackie January 18, 2012 at 4:35 pm

      It’s funny that with all the books out there, the zombie thing seems to be the most popular for us to think about participating in, lol.

  • Mary Kirkland January 18, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    I’ve always liked The scythe, it just looks so cool.

    • Jackie January 18, 2012 at 4:35 pm

      I think so too 🙂

  • Sheree January 18, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Crossbows are less accurate than the longbow but require a whole lot less practice so that’s for me! (I was not the best student in archery class)

    However, in case of zombie apocalypse or any other type, weapons that require specialized ammunition (bullets, arrows) are at a disadvantage since someone would have to make them. Also problematic are projectiles, like the throwing stars, since I would have to somehow get them back before the bad guys throw them back at *me*.

    Can you tell I’ve actually given this some thought? 🙂

    • Jackie January 18, 2012 at 4:37 pm

      I’ve always wanted to try archery. It seems like fun, though I’d be very concerned about my accuracy :-p

      Good point about having to reload certain weapons! I’m all for the scythe, but a catapult full of grenades would do some damage too 🙂

  • Lori Strongin January 18, 2012 at 11:33 pm


    I am a total geek when it comes to Renaissance-era weaponry. When my dad and I took a trip to Italy, we went to Orvieto–a beautiful hillside town in Tuscany that’s known for their artisans. Back on the bus after the visit, everyone was showing off their homemade sweater and scarf purchases, wind chimes, flowerpots, etc. When it was my turn, I pulled out a crossbow and short sword. Yup, I’m *that* girl. 🙂


    • Jackie January 19, 2012 at 9:22 am

      Thanks, Lori! That sounds like a cool trip. How did you ever make it through customs with those?! 😀

  • aurian January 19, 2012 at 2:17 am

    Great post Jackie, thank you!

    • Jackie January 19, 2012 at 9:24 am

      Thanks, aurian! It was fun to research 🙂

  • Tamsyn January 19, 2012 at 9:02 am

    I don’t see the axe mentioned. It is always one of the weapons available in my RPG. Heavy though and more suited for a giant, I always think! :o)

    • Jackie January 19, 2012 at 9:33 am

      I may have to do a part two for this post. There were so many great weapons, ancient ones I’ve never heard of, and lots of modern ones too. I tried to narrow it down this time to a smapling of different times and places. I think an axe is a great all around weapon too, especially those double headed ones 🙂

  • Me February 12, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    That was NOT A BROADSWORD. That wasn’t even a Medieval sword that is commonly referred to incorrectly as a broadsword. That is a gladius. A broadsword has a basket-hilted sword. A Medieval one-handed sword, or arming sword, commonly weighed around 2-3 pounds, and a longsword was rarely more than four. That reference site for the “broadsword” had the facts right, but the name was just wrong. http://www.thearma.org/essays/broadsword.htm
    Read this article and learn something.

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