Captains Courageous Allusions to Ponder

Captains Courageous allusions to ponder:

[Title] The words `Captains Courageous’ come from the ballad of `Mary Ambree’, the legendary heroine who fought against the Spanish in the 1584 siege of Ghent. The opening lines are

When captains courageous, whom death could not daunt,
Did march to the siege of the city of Gaunt,
They mustered their soldiers by two and by three,
And the foremost in battle was Mary Ambree.

Later in the poem, Mary Ambree herself addresses the Spanish leaders as `captains courageous of valour so bold’, with the implication that the term can also be applied to enemies. Kipling may have known “Mary Ambree” from Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, first published in 1765. He had already used the title “Captains Courageous” for an article on businessmen as the new adventurers, published in The Times of 23 Nov. 1892, and reprinted in Letters of Travel


Allusion to Discobolus

P. 21  Allusion to the famous statue called “Discobolus” when Long Jack calls out the count to Disko, but he calls him Discobolus.

See Link for picture:

“Manuel, you take the tackle. I’ll fix the tables. Harvey, clear Manuel’s boat. Long Jack’s nestin’ on the top of her.”

Harvey looked up from his swabbing at the bottom of another dory just above his head.

“Jest like the Injian puzzle-boxes, ain’t they?” said Dan, as the one boat dropped into the other.

“Takes to ut like a duck to water,” said Long Jack, a grizzly-chinned, long-lipped Galway man, bending to and fro exactly as Manuel had done. Disko in the cabin growled up the hatchway, and they could hear him suck his pencil.

“Wan hunder an’ forty-nine an’ a half-bad luck to ye, Discobolus!” said Long Jack. “I’m murderin’ meself to fill your pockuts. Slate ut for a bad catch. The Portugee has bate me.”

Whack came another dory alongside, and more fish shot into the pen.

Discobolus (Discus-thrower)

Roman copy of a bronze original of the 5th century BC From Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli, Lazio, Italy

One of the most famous images from the ancient world

This marble statue is one of several copies of a lost bronze original of the fifth century BC which was attributed to the sculptor Myron (flourished about 470-440 BC). The head on this figure has been wrongly restored, and should be turned to look towards the discus.

The popularity of the sculpture in antiquity was no doubt due to its representation of the athletic ideal. Discus-throwing was the first element in the pentathlon, and while pentathletes were in some ways considered inferior to those athletes who excelled at a particular sport, their physical appearance was much admired. This was because no one particular set of muscles was over-developed, with the result that their proportions were harmonious.

A number of ancient discuses of either marble or metal, and of various weights, survive. Little is known of the distances achieved in antiquity, though an epigram celebrating a throw of 30 metres (95 feet) comes as a surprise in the modern world, where the current world record is just over 70 metres. However, the ancient technique of discus-throwing may have been rather different: there is no representational evidence for anything more than a three-quarter turn, rather than the two and a half turns used today, and this may be one factor making a direct comparison difficult.

  1. Swaddling, The ancient Olympic Games, 3rd edition (London, The British Museum Press, 2004)

J.C.H. King (ed.), Human image (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)_________

Note below from:


Probably the world’s most famed statue of an athlete is of a discobolus (discus-thrower), by Myron, ancient Greek, restored by Professor Furtwangler.

*Throwing the discus was revived with the Olympic Games (1896) and has been a recognized event in athletic competitions since that time, becoming very popular in the U. S. The stone discus of antiquity weighed from 4 to 5 lb., although one of bronze was uncovered weighing 8 lb. Thrower Baker, Swarthmore, last week heaved the modern 4%½ lb. discus 139 ft., a new Middle Atlantic record. The world’s record (156 ft. 1⅜ in.) was made by J. Duncan of the U. S. on May 27, 1912


Rupert Allusion

Another allusion perhaps, this time to Prince Rupert of the Rhine?   Rupert “after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Rupert held a series of British naval commands, fighting in the Second and Third Anglo-Dutch Wars. He died on 19 November 1682.”

And whose correspondence was quoted in Rupert prince Palatine by Eva Scott as saying, “I expect nothing by ill from the West. Let them hear that Rupert says so.”   Keep this in mind when you dig into Kipling’s Notes on America and begin to think more about his critique of the West and admiration of traditional values still held to more tightly in the Eastern US, where the Tripp family is from.

Captains Couragous P.84

“Can a schooner like this go right across to Africa?” said Harvey.

“Go araound the Horn ef there’s anythin’ worth goin’ fer, and the grub holds aout,” said Disko. “My father he run his packet, an’ she was a kind o’ pinkey, abaout fifty ton, I guess,—the Rupert,—he run her over to Greenland’s icy mountains the year ha’af our fleet was tryin’ after cod there. An’ what’s more, he took my mother along with him,—to show her haow the money was earned, I presoom,—an’ they was all iced up, an’ I was born at Disko. Don’t remember nothin’ abaout it, o’ course. We come back when the ice eased in the spring, but they named me fer the place. Kinder mean trick to put up on a baby, but we’re all bound to make mistakes in our lives.”

Definition: “fly the Blue Pigeon” to heave the lead to take ‘soundings’. When in pilotage waters, in the days before echo-sounders to give the depth of water, depth was found with the lead (which was a 7lb. lump of that metal) on the end of the lead-line, which was marked at intervals.

The leadsman, standing in ‘the chains’, a platform projecting from the ship’s side near the bows, swung the lead backwards and forwards until it had got sufficient momentum to carry forward, describing an arc as it fell into the sea some yards ahead of the ship. The skill of the leadsman lay in keeping the lead line just taut, as it became vertical with the lead itself just resting on the seabed, and reading off the mark at the waterline, as the ship passed the position where the lead had entered the water. The lead had a depression in the end which could be ‘armed’ with tallow. On recovery, the tallow would have bits of sea-bed adhering to it: sand, shells, mud, etc., and this could help to give an indication of the bottom, because the nature of the seabed is also recorded on a marine chart, as well as the depth of water.


Assuming we’re doing it on the starboard side, you took the coil of lead-line in your left hand, and the lead itself on the end of the line, with about six feet scope of line – i.e., it’s dangling from your hand on the end of about six feet of line (that would be about the height of Tom Platt’s hand above the waterline in the We’re Here – maybe eight feet). You swung the lead backwards and forwards, as described above, or even whirled it in a complete circle above your head (‘flying the blue pigeon’) to give it momentum to carry as far forward as possible. The point is that, if the ship is moving forward, it will not be over the spot where the leadsman released the lead when the latter reaches the sea-bed unless the lead is flung some distance forward. Having swung and released the lead, the leadsman then concentrates on the line running out from his left hand (you have coiled it up very carefully indeed so that you do not get any tangles/knots), and as soon as you feel the lead hit the sea-bed, you gather in the slack of the line, so that the line is taut as the ship passes over the place where the lead is on the sea-bed. The lead-line was marked at given distances, 2,3,5,7,10,13,15,17 and 20 fathoms – e.g. the mark at 13 fathoms was a piece of blue serge. So, if as the ship passed over the lead, the piece of blue serge was just there at the waterline, the leadsman would call out “By the mark thirteen”.



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1 Response to Captains Courageous Allusions to Ponder

  1. Pingback: Captains Courageous Assignment Overview and Due Dates | Literature Discovery

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