The house lights dim in anticipation. The orchestra plays an overture, then falls silent as the stage lights slowly brighten. The curtains rise and the spotlight reveals a lone performer at center stage. He is The Great Lorenzo, and we are his audience.
Welcome, my dear friends and Heroes-in-training. Recently returned from my whirlwind world tour of command performances before the crowned heads of Albion, Nova Roma, and Marete, I am The Great Lorenzo, Maestro of the College of Bards here at the School for Heroes. I am here today to enlighten you as to the purpose of that College. We are the keepers of lore, the tellers of tales, the singers of songs, and the allotters of alliteration. Ahem. We use words, music, drama, and art to teach and inspire. We are the messengers of the spirit of heroism.
It’s all about the words, really. Words are powerful things. They can encourage, discourage, incite, calm, prove, disprove, bless, or condemn. They can inform or sometimes obfuscate. Western religious scriptures – whether Christian, Jewish, or Muslim – are often called “The Word” or “The Word of God”.
That is the power of words… and their greatest problem. Because words have power, but they don’t necessarily tell the truth. And a sincerely-spoken untruth can be a very dangerous and evil thing.
”The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” – Jean Giraudoux
Bards have a great power and an even greater responsibility. We can spin words in ways that have a profound influence on our listeners. Words can be powerful weapons, and even stronger tools. Because we are Heroes as well as entertainers, we have the obligation to use our words in ways that enrich our listeners. We must tell the Truth, and we must tell the Important Truths – things that matter, words that can make the world a better place.
The Line in the Sand
You’ve heard the phrase, “drawing a line in the sand,” but do you know where it came from? King Antiochus IV had invaded Egypt and was on his way to Alexandria when an old man barred his way. Gaius Popillius Laenas, representing the Roman Senate, told Antiochus that if he proceeded, he would be at war with the Roman Empire.
The King said that he would need to confer with his council, but Gaius drew a circle around him in the sand, then reportedly said, “Before you cross this circle I want you to give me a reply for the Roman Senate.” Antiochus did not want a war with Rome and backed down. That’s how powerful a few words can be. You can say, “No, that was the power of the Roman Empire,” but it’s more than that. Those words turned a distant, potential danger into an immediate threat. Antiochus, powerful and successful as he was, did not dare to kill the messenger or ignore the message.
Being a Bard
To be a Bard is to wield the power of Gaius Popillius. We chose this path because of our love for music, for performance, and drama. But we were called to the Way of the Bard for a higher reason. We are here because we love to teach, to move, and to inspire as well as entertain. By such simple acts as drawing a line – along with the right words at the right moment – we can alter the world.
But enough of such seriousness! We have a show to put on, and our Bards have kindly consented to perform it for you! Here in the pages of Ars Heroica are some recent examples of the Bardic Art in action.
Maestro of the College of Bards