Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Three Princes of Serendip

This isn't exactly a Western Tale with Eastern Roots, but the "three brothers" concept is universal and this one is the story behind our word Serendipity. It's also special to me because, as you see, it's the name of my blog.

Interesting note: Serendip is the old name for Sri Lanka.

The story goes like this...

A wise king schools his three sons, but decides they need some exposure to the world so he casts them out. As soon as they arrive on foreign shores, they're met with a puzzle. They collect the clues of The Lost Camel and, with great concern, inquire at the camel merchant. The merchant is indeed missing a camel and he accuses the three brothers of stealing it, for how could they know all the unique details otherwise?

The details:

The camel is lame, blind in one eye, missing a tooth, carrying a pregnant woman, and bearing honey on one side and butter on the other.

The three brothers are brought before the Emperor and their story is put to the test.
  • The camel only ate from one side of the road -the side he could see!
  • Lumps of half-chewed grass at the side of the road fell through the gap in the camel's teeth.
  • Footprints of the woman were found and handprints nearby suggested that she needed to push herself up, because of her large stomach.
  • Because the camel was lame, it dropped a trail of it's load, melted butter, on one side of the road.
  • Flies came to the honey trail on the other.
In the end, the three banished princes are lavished with riches and appointed to be the emperor's advisors.
Wikipedia defines serendipity as a propensity for making fortunate discoveries while looking for something unrelated. Discovering Penicillin, for example, was serendipitous. Some people point out that the sagacity of the person making an observation is the important factor, though. Another scientist might have thrown out the petri dish. Another traveller wouldn't have guessed what the three princes did.

So...revisions, betas, revisions, revisions, more critiques, revisions...maybe at the end of my trail of revisions, I'll be rewarded with a published book. Because as the Roman philosopher Seneca said, "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity."

Related articles

Next month's series is International Romance. I'll be hosting some fabulous women with firsthand knowledge of the subject: Nicole Ducleroir, Katie Mills, Jessica Bell, and Joanna St. James ! Stay tuned for their posts on Tuesdays in January.
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Vicki Rocho said...

I love old stories like these! I used to have a pen pal from Sri Lanka when I was oh-so-much younger...but I never knew it used to be Serendip.

Unknown said...

What an interesting tale and you applied it to writing! Fantastic. I agree that you need to do the revising and all the other needed routes before you consider your story done.

Unknown said...

What an informational and entertaining post. So much fun to read! I have always loved the word "Serendipity," both for its definition and for how it rolls off the tongue. Learning its root was once the name of Sri Lanka only adds to its appeal.

Looking forward to the upcoming blog series!

Golden Eagle said...

I certainly didn't know that about Serendip--thanks for the post!

I'm looking forward to the series!

Old Kitty said...

Oh wow!! Poirot and Sherlock Holmes would have been proud of these brothers' observations and detection!! What a brilliant story, thank you!!

May we all be blessed with serendipitous moments in our lives!! :-) Take care

scribbleandedit.blogspot.co.uk said...

Ah very thought provoking. I like the story.

Carolyn V. said...

That is such a great story! I love it. I never knew that about that word. =)


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