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  • I've got a story for you that stretches over 700 years,

  • and the best way to start it is with a 16th century joke:

  • "a man did ride to the market with two bushels of wheat".

  • But because his horse shouldn't carry a heavy load,

  • he carried the wheat on his own neck, but still rode the horse.

  • I'm not saying it's a great 16th century joke.

  • But that is one of the Merry Tales of the Mad-Men of Gotam,

  • a 16th-century compilation of stories

  • insulting the intelligence of the people of this town.

  • Which is pronounced "goat-um".

  • The jokes compiled in that book date back centuries more,

  • and while the details have changed with retellings over the years,

  • the story behind them goes like this:

  • Back in the early 13th century, King John

  • the King John from the tales of Robin Hood

  • wanted to travel through this town.

  • The locals were worried, because if the King travelled on a road,

  • it would become a public highway, and they didn't want that.

  • Or in other retellings, the King wanted to build a hunting lodge somewhere nearby,

  • and the locals would have to pay for it.

  • So whenever royal messengers arrived in Gotham, they found the locals doing something ridiculous.

  • They tried to capture a cuckoo by building a circular hedge around it,

  • and when the bird flew away,

  • decided they just hadn't built the hedge high enough.

  • They tried to kill an eel by drowning it.

  • Back then, "madness" was thought to be contagious.

  • If the King was to visit this town, then who knows:

  • he might catch whatever they had.

  • The king stayed away, and the locals won.

  • So the full legend tells the tale of a wily group of people who outwitted the King

  • but who also became known as a village of fools in the process.

  • They were both the Wise Men of Gotham and the Mad Men of Gotham.

  • Centuries later, in the early 1800s, there was an American writer called Washington Irving.

  • He's best known now for writing the Legend of Sleepy Hollow,

  • but among many other things, he was a satirist,

  • and in one of his early works he refers to New York City as Gotham.

  • Now, I tracked down that bit of writing, and I can't understand it.

  • I don't know any of the context.

  • I don't know if he's calling the citizens of New York dim, or clever, or both.

  • But the nickname he gave New York stuck around in the public consciousness

  • and it was written down, so at some point, "Goat-um" became "Goth-am".

  • More than a century after that, when comic book writer Bill Finger

  • was looking for a name for Batman's fictional town,

  • he flipped through the New York City phone book,

  • spottedGotham Jewellers”, and thought: that's perfect.

  • So now we have Gotham City.

  • If one link in that chain had broken,

  • through 13th-century legend, to 16th-century insult book,

  • to 19th-century writer, to 20th-century phone book flip,

  • if one of those small events hadn't happened,

  • Batman would live somewhere else.

I've got a story for you that stretches over 700 years,

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バットマン 愚者の村イギリス・ゴッサム (Batman's Village of Fools: Gotham, England)

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    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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