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Oberon and Titania

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dph writes...

Was Merlin's conception/birth intentional on the part of Oberon? What I mean is did Oberon deliberately seek out to have a son who was half mortal in the case of Merlin?

Greg responds...

I mostly think he was hot for Merlin's mom.

Response recorded on December 21, 2006

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Patricia Lovelady writes...

While utilizing the nifty SEARCH function, I decided to look up responses for "the whisper". I came up with this:

Question received on Mon, August 07, 2000 03:01:14 AM
Vasy writes...
1.What did titania whisper into fox's ear at he end of the gathering part2

Greg responds...
1. Do you think they'll be wondering about this in Ask Greg four years from now?
Response recorded on August 23, 2000

And given the most recent Q&A on that subject was recently posted.... 4+ years after that Q&A was done.... I think your answer holds true.. heh :) We were still wondering that in Ask Greg.. in 2004 :)

The fandom that you didn't anticipate has bugged you about something that you didn't think you would have been bugged about.

Keep it up, it's fun being confused, etc. :D

Greg responds...

My pleasure. (Most of the time.)

Response recorded on September 12, 2006

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Laura (Ackerman) Sack writes...

I was reading your answers to the Oberon/Titanina Family trees (November 2004) and two things caught my attn:

"Lord Oberon married Titania (who became Queen Titania after Mab was overthrown). (Note: Oberon intentionally did not take the title of King. Retaining his "Lord" title is his semi-skewed attempt at being more... egalitarian.) "

-When you say that Titania 'became' queen while Oberon chose not to 'take' the title king- do you mean that Oberon's claim came from Titania and not from Queen Mab or his conquest of her? (Queen Mab is his mother, right?) Is Titania queen or queen consort?

I know in many cultures that seem to have inherited kingship the facts are actually differnt. Take Macbeth, for example: Luach was probably the first son to directly inheret a crown from his father in Scottish history. Macbeth's claim was as good as Duncun Canmore's, but Gruach came from an older line than either. Are Oberon's children similarly not straight forward? With near imortality succession probably doesn't come up all that much anyway.

You also wrote:
"Oberon also has at least two sons by mortal women: Merlin and the changeling boy from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream". "

I cannot believe I didn't notice you saying that before! When I read/saw Midsummer, (one of very few plays I can't get into while reading but love to watch), I always assumed the boy was the mortal child of a beloved, all-to-mortal, devotee of Titania's. The complete disregard for the boy shown by Oberon stealing him away (both physically and magically from Titania's attention) always left Oberon a bit too scummy for me to be fully happy with the 'all the couples were reunited and lived happily ever after." (Though, I'm told if my knowledge of mythology were more complete I would know the royal mortal couple don't end so happily, or at least longly, either.)

If the boy was in fact Oberon's, than the disregard might be feigned as a ploy to get him from Titania. Oberon is immediately made less scummy.

Barage of questions:
1.In the Gargoyles universe, how true to the Shakespeare is the 'true' story?
2.Was Titania aware that the child was her husband's?
If so, was her care for the boy as innocent and real as they seem (to me) in the play?
3.What made Oberon father a child with a worshiper of his wife? Coincidence? Meaness? Was she a worshiper of Titania at the time or did that come after?
4.I think, but do not remember clearly, that the woman did not die in childbirth. What did she die of, and could Oberon have been of help preventing it? Did he try?
(My pet theory is that Titania has tried to help Renayrd out a bit in his illness, but there is only so much she can do without being obvious. And even if she were to use blatant magic, there is still only so much she can do. Medicine and healing, though we take it for granted, is still 'big magic'.)
5. What ever did happen to the changling after the events of the play? Or, if you don't want to go into specifics, is he alive or at least have a unnaturally long life?

Apropo of very little- last summer I caught a rather good preformance of Midsummer in a Shakespeare in the Park(ing Lot). (Not as good as their Richard II that they seemlessly reordered to make the first half as flashbacks during the second.) Uneven. but with real flashes of brillance. Instead of dual roles, they had the traditionally dual roles played by exchangable pairs. The Oberon and Titania I caught had fantastic presence.

thank you

Greg responds...

Titania is Queen Consort, technically, but it's also a position of not a little authority at the top of the feudal pyramid, answerable ONLY to Oberon... and even he is somewhat reluctant to order his Queen around. Note that when the Weird Sisters report that everyone but Titania and Puck have arrived for the Gathering, Oberon immediately states that Titania may come and go as she pleases.

In any case, Oberon's claim to his throne comes from both being the son of Mab and being the one who took Mab down. It does not come via Titania.

As for your Midsummer Questions, this is a story I hope to tell one day, so I'm going to be stingier...

1. We'll have to see.
2. I prefer to leave the answer to this ambiguous.
3. She was already a worshipper. His motives... are also best left ambiguous for now.
4. I'm not revealing this now.
5. Ditto.

Response recorded on September 05, 2006

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Richard von Heinz writes...

1) Why did the producers of the show go with iron as the general weakness for Oberon's Children when many of them like Raven, Odin or Anubis were figures from mythologies that didn't see iron as a sort of "god kryptonite". In fact the Fenris wolf from norse mythology was able to snap his iron chains and had to be finally chained with a magical one and many of the gods and demons of the Far East didn't seem to have a problem with iron.

2)In relation to the first question why was Oberon the king and lord of the third race that included such beings as Odin and possibly Zeus and other godhead when in the traditional stories he was just a minor king of the fairies or elves?

In general I'm just rather curious why you put so many of the qualities found in fairies and elves such as Oberon and the iron weakness onto mythological figures such as Odin, Coyote or Anasi which in the end from my point of view kind of diminishes the gods.

Greg responds...

1) When combining so many mythologies, certain choices have to be made. Since we were putting a traditional "fairy" figure like Oberon at the top of our feudal pyramid, using iron made sense. I understand your objection, even sympathize with it, but I also don't regret our decision.

2) Well, a short answer is that we wanted to diminish the gods a bit... or put another way, we wanted to create a unifying system for them all. A feudal system. Oberon and Titania got priority, because in general SHAKESPEARE got priority. Titania, as far as I know, is not a traditional figure but an invention of ol' Will's. I've always freely admitted to being a Shakespeare fanatic, so his characters, including Macbeth, Oberon, Titania, Puck, the Weird Sisters, etc. were always going to have featured roles in this series. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference, and I was the guy in charge. That doesn't make me RIGHT in some transcendent sense, just means that I had the right to create the universe I wanted to play in. So I did.

Response recorded on August 24, 2006

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Lord GargFan writes...

Sorry to ask this again, but, here it goes...

What did Titania whisper to Fox at the end of "The Gathering, Part 2"?

Here are my reasons for you answering this question:

1. It's been long enough. Time to answer this question.

2. It's a burning question that most people want answered.

And another question:

Would what she whispered to Fox be important in a future episode or spin-off?

Greg responds...

Your reasoning seems faulty to me.

1. It's almost been too long. I think at this point my answer would be anti-climactic.

2. I know there's a contingent that doesn't want the answer, but just cuz some fans think they want it, doesn't mean they're right to want it.

And in any case, I have promised to reveal the answer when the Gathering has five hundred or more attendees, and not before. So if you really want the answer, help us scare up attendance for Pigeon Forge!

As for your final question, all things come around in Gargoyles.

Response recorded on August 22, 2006

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GargFan1995-present writes...

My first post :)

In "The Gathering, pt. 2", was what Titania whispered to Fox something important to the plot, a future storyline, or a spinoff ("You should have let me have your son, 'cuz he'll be great one day")? Or was it something stupid like "Computers with hundreds of megabytes of RAM are coming soon!" or "You're a cartoon!"? Or was it even worth discussing with you? (Note to everyone reading this - Maybe Greg doesn't even know what it was and this is all a way to make us think he does!)

Greg responds...

As I've said many times previous, I DO know and I thought it was clever at the time, but I think at this point the answer would be anti-climactic.

For the record, it was not a non-sequitor.

Response recorded on December 05, 2005

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Regarding Oberon

The other day, I was asked a question about sources for Oberon. I didn't know the answer, but I received this e-mail from site moderator, Todd Jensen:

Dear Greg,

In "Ask Greg" today, curousity asked you if there were any other sources besides Shakespeare for Oberon as "king of the faries [sic]". You replied, "Not off the top of my head." I hope that I'm not presuming here in e-mailing you, but I have found at least three works beside "A Midsummer Night's Dream" that portray Oberon in that role, both of which are early enough that they count as "primary sources".

One is a late medieval French work about one of Charlemagne's knights, entitled Huon of Bordeaux (written in the 15th century, and translated into English by a certain Lord Berners in 1548 - early enough, in other words, that Shakespeare could have used it as a source for Oberon). In it, Huon befriends Oberon in his adventures, and the latter becomes Huon's guardian, almost a "fairy godfather". (Oberon is portrayed in it as around three feet tall due to a curse placed upon him in his infancy, and as the son of Julius Caesar and Morgan le Fay!) At the end of the story, Oberon even brings Huon to Avalon and formally abdicates in favor of Huon, declaring him ruler over the "faerie-folk"; a bit of trouble develops, however, when King Arthur arrives at the gathering and protests, saying that if any human should be ruling over Avalon, it should be he himself rather than a relative newcomer like Huon. Oberon angrily tells Arthur that he has chosen Huon for his successor, is not going to change his mind, and even threatens to curse Arthur by transforming him into a werewolf if he doesn't accept it. Huon at this point steps in as a peacemaker, to say that he doesn't think that he could rule Avalon on his own and suggests that he and Arthur act as co-rulers. Oberon and Arthur both agree to this, after which Oberon peacefully dies and Arthur and Huon are crowned in his stead.

Another non-Shakespeare "primary source" involving Oberon is Michael Drayton's Nimphidia, which has Oberon ruling over the "fairies" as well - and wedded here to Queen Mab! (According to the research that I've done on fairy mythology, Titania appears to have been Shakespeare's invention as opposed to a pre-existing legendary figure, though Oberon and Puck both predated him.)

A third is Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene, which presents Oberon as the former ruler over "Fairyland", now deceased, with his daughter Gloriana - the Faerie Queene of the title - ruling in his stead. (Gloriana is actually an idealized Elizabeth I, meaning that the Oberon of Spenser would be an idealized Henry VIII.) The poem also includes, incidentally, King Arthur, Merlin, and Talos as on-stage characters.

THANKS, TODD!!!!


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Unknown writes...

How old is Oberon , now I know you answered this , but I want to find out the exact age [ .p.s. 1603 ]

Greg responds...

When did I answer this?

Response recorded on May 03, 2005

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Francois Ferland writes...

Hello again Greg! You know, this is getting addictive...

A Titania question, one I hope has never been asked, or at least not the way I'll be asking it...

I am, of course, refering to Titania's secret whisper to Fox. Since I got the hint long ago that, barring extreme circumstances, you'll take the content of her secret to your grave, I'll ask you something else.

I know you know what she told Fox. Now, my question, depending on your answer, has the potential of getting people off your back and have them never ask that damn question again.

1. Is Titania's secret to Fox of any value to us? Wait, let me clarify before you say something like "Define value". It has the potential to be a big revelation ala "Luke, I am your father", or it could be something simple of no real value to us fans except to satisfy our curiosity, like "Take care, child".

See, if it's not important for us to know, you can just answer no and be done with that question forever.

But if it IS of value to us, you'll probably just answer something non-commital and we (meaning other fans, not me) will just keep on pestering you forever...

Of course, knowing you, you could just as easily answer "Not saying" either way to keep us confused, since I'm beginning to think you like playing this game of leaving us in the dark, dangling a carrot in front of us to keep us moving foward just a bit further but never letting og of it :)

Anyway, thanks for the answer, no matter what it might be, and take care.

Greg responds...

The truth is, as I've mentioned before, is that the question has been built up WAY beyond any potential "value" as you put it. That's not to say it has no value, but I have a strong feeling that the answer would now be anti-climactic. Disappointing. In it's original context, it was probably kinda cool and neat and clever and, above all else, right. But I don't think the answer now lives up to the hype. That's the MAIN reason that I'm still reluctant to reveal it. In your minds, it's still very cool... in the not knowing, it's still very cool. Presented with it as words on a screen... maybe it's just an "eh".

Response recorded on April 19, 2005

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Gothic Cowboy writes...

Hello, again. I have a question/observation concerning Oberon. I have noticed an unfortunate trend among fans of the series (particularly in fanfiction, although I understand you don't read such material) to present Oberon in an unfavorable light. Even The Gargoyles Saga, which normally boasts excellent characterization, consistently depicts Oberon in a manner which I feel is grossly unfair. I liked Oberon. I thought that he was stern, but fair, and was also very concerned with the proper use of power. Granted, he possessed character flaws. But he banished his Children from Avalon, forcing them to live amongst mortals, because he felt that they didn't have proper respect for the rights of mortals. His Law is also shown in an unfair light. Most fans seem to like to show him as an uncaring, distant figure, who could care less if the bulk of humanity simply died off. I interpret his Law differently, though. Perhaps its simply because I am an inveterate comic book fan, and the topic has been frequently used in comic books. But I believe that Oberon forbids direct magical intervention, even to help mortals, because he understands that mortals must stand on their own. He understands that, if he were to direct his Children to use their powers to shelter and care for mortals, we would come to rely on them for everything, even the problems that we could solve on our own. Our potential would be stunted. We would eventually become little better than pets for the Children of Oberon. Obviously, he doesn't mind non-magical intervention. Puck interferes a great deal, but as Owen, without magic. Grandmother has seemingly guided and advised mortals for centuries. Many of the Children (including Oberon himself) have sired or beared Half-Fae children with mortals. His emphasis seems to be on ensuring that mortals don't become reliant on the Children of Oberon, that we feed our own poor, treat our own sick and wounded, fight our own battles. In short, that we make our own mistakes and stand on our own two feet. Was I off the mark?

Greg responds...

No. But you're comparing your interpretation to the interpretations of other fans -- interpretations that I have not seen.

In general terms -- very general terms -- I agree with you. But Oberon is also dangerous and powerful and subject to interpreting his OWN laws his own way. I don't think of him in a negative light. But I also don't think he's entirely benign either.

Response recorded on March 04, 2005


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