Monday, July 11, 2016

Running the Gauntlet

An ancient expression still used today. Now a frequently and almost flippantly used term meaning to experience severe criticism or great difficulties, or to have to deal with a lot of people who are criticizing or attacking you.                                        


Once upon a time it meant a painful brutal death as a captive was forced to run between two rows of people repeatedly striking him.  

In this case, the specific use of the word gauntlet has a curious history originating from Swedish word gatlopp. Gata meaning lane and lopp meaning running, so running the lane. The English borrowed the term in the 17th century, probably during the Thirty Years' War featuring English and Swedish soldiers fighting in the Protestant armies.

 Soon its pronunciation was influenced by the unrelated French word gauntlet (meaning an armored glove), and with misuse of the pronunciation so changed the spelling. 

In Ancient Greece, a similar practice, called Xylokopia was used as a severe military punishment, and in the Roman military it was a form of execution by cudgeling.
There was also a naval version of the gauntlet, used in the Royal Navy. This punishment was abolished by order of the British Admiralty in 1806.
 Notable literary descriptions of the process appear in Tolstoy's short story After The Ball, Stanley Kubrick's film Barry Lyndon and Ernest Hemingway's For Whom The Bell Tolls.

Several Native American tribes of the Eastern Woodlands culture forced prisoners to run the gauntlet. Some notables included Daniel Boone, Lieutenant-Colonel John B. McClelland, Susanna Willard Johnson.

          Here's hoping you never truly Run the Gauntlet.

No comments:

Post a Comment