A sword is made up of a chisel and a haft, with one or two edges for severing and penetrating, and a point for the assault. Swords have been used in warfare since times of yore. Many stories have been blend about and around certain reputated swords, belonging to both real and chimerical characters. We regale here with an account of some legendary swords that continue to captivate us to date.
These cutlass, being purely military weapons, are a regalia of power, dignity and exaltation, and all cultures have legends of unsurmountable swords. The stories of these swords are not the reminiscence of the weapons, but also an account of their wielders. Here are some legendary swords from history, mythology and literature.
Zulfiqar (‘bifurcated’) is a well-known sword of Islamic history owned by Hazrat Ali, by many accounts, Muḥammad (PBUH) presented Zulfiqar to a young Ali at the Battle of Uhud. During the battle, Ali struck one of the fiercest adversaries, breaking both his helmet and his shield. Muhammad (PBUH) remarked “There is no hero but Ali and no sword except Zulfiqar”. By most historical accounts, Ali used the sword at the Battle of the Trench to cut a fierce Meccan opponent and his shield in two halves. The opponent was Amr ibn Abdawud, whose strength was often compared to that of a thousand men. No one had dared to fight him except Ali, who killed him with one powerful blow. Though Amr wore strong armor and carried powerful weapons, he is said to have been no match to Ali and his sword. The scimitar is one of the oldest and best known symbols of Islam. The sword was also used in the Battle of Karbala by Imam Hussain, and as a result it is seen as a symbol of honor and martyrdom. And it is now believed by the Shias to be in the possession of Imam Mehdi.
2. Nasril ( Andúril)
In J. R. R. Tolkien’s fictional prehistory of the world (Arda), Narsil was the sword of King Elendil of the Dúnedain who used it in the War of the Last Alliance against Sauron, the sword in a later age was reforged as Andúril . It appears in The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales.
Elendil, however, was killed during the battle and Narsil was broken in shards. His son Isildur then used the hilt-shard of Narsil to cut the One Ring from the finger of Sauron, thus defeating and vanquishing him. The shards of Narsil were passed on as heirloom, until the sword was reforged during the War of the Ring and handed over to Aragorn, who renamed it as Anduril (Sindarin for “The Flame of the West”) Aragorn receiving the sword was an action recognizing him as an heir of Isildur and the rightful king of Gondor. It is also referred to as ‘the sword that was broken’.
3. Flaming Sword
A flaming sword is a sword glowing with flame by some supernatural power. Flaming swords have existed in legend and myth for thousands of years. According to the Bible, a Cherub with a flaming sword was placed by God at the gates of Paradise after Adam and Eve were banished from it (Genesis 3:24).
“He placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims,
and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the
way of the tree of life.” Genesis 3:24
Eastern Orthodox of Christianity tradition says that from the time Jesus was born, the flaming sword was removed from the Garden of Eden, making it possible for humanity to re-enter Paradise.
Excalibur is the legendary sword of King Arthur, sometimes attributed with magical powers or associated with the rightful sovereignty of Great Britain. Sometimes Excalibur and the Sword in the Stone (the proof of Arthur’s lineage) are said to be the same weapon, but in most versions they are considered separate. The sword was associated with the Arthurian legend very early. In Welsh, the sword is called Caledfwlch .
There are two swords that appear in Arthurian legends: the Sword in the Stone, which only Arthur could wield, thereby proving his rightful kingship; and the sword given to him by the Lady of the Lake. In some versions there is only one sword, while in others, the Sword in Stone is broken and later Arthur receives Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake. Having a magical origin, the sword was unbreakable and its scabbard protected the king from physical harm. Morgan Le Fay, Arthur’s half-sister, stole the sword. It was recovered but the scabbard was lost, hence allowing King Arthur to be mortally wounded in the Battle of Camlann. Arthur orders one of his knights to throw back the sword in the enchanted lake, and when done so, a hand appeared from the waters to catch it, taking it beneath the water from where it had first emerged.
Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (is a legendary Japanese sword as important to Japan’s history as Excalibur is to Britain’s, and is one of three Imperial Regalia of Japan. It was originally called Ama-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi (“Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven”) but its name was later changed to the more popular Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (“Grass Cutting Sword”).
It was discovered from the body of a giant serpent. In the reign of the XII Emperor, the sword was gifted to Yamato Takeru, who was led into an open grassland as a trap by a warlord. The plan was to ignite the grass and burn Yamato to death. In desperation, Yamato started cutting the grass with his sword and discovered to his amazement that he could control the wind. Using this power, Yamato expanded the fire in the direction of his enemies, defeating them. It was after this incident that Yamato named the sword as “Grasscutter Sword”. Yamato was later killed in a battle by a monster when he ignored his wife’s advice to take the Grasscutter sword with him. The moral of the story: Always listen to your wife. However, In The Tale of the Heike, a collection of oral stories transcribed in 1371, the sword is lost at sea after the defeat of the Heike clan in the Battle of Dan-no-ura, a naval battle that ended in the defeat of the Heike clan forces and the child Emperor Antoku at the hands of Minamoto no Yoshitsune. In the tale, upon hearing of the Navy’s defeat, the Emperor’s grandmother led the Emperor and his entourage to commit suicide by drowning in the waters of the strait along with the three Imperial Regalia, including Kusanagi. Although the Minamoto troops managed to stop a handful of them and recovered two of the three regalia, Kusanagi was said to have been lost forever.
6. The Sword of Damocles
Damocles is a figure featured in a single moral anecdote concerning the Sword of Damocles which was a late addition to classical Greek culture. The figure belongs properly to legend rather than Greek myth. Damocles was a courtier in the court of King Dionysius.
The Damocles of the anecdote was an obsequious courtier in the court of Dionysius II of Syracuse, a fourth century BC tyrant of Syracuse. Damocles exclaimed that, as a great man of power and authority, Dionysius was truly fortunate. Dionysius offered to switch places with him for a day, so he could taste first hand that fortune. In the evening a banquet was held where Damocles very much enjoyed being waited upon like a king. Only at the end of the meal did he look up and notice a sharpened sword hanging directly above his head by a single horse-hair. Immediately, he lost all taste for the amenities and asked leave of the tyrant, saying he no longer wanted to be so fortunate.
Dionysius had successfully conveyed a sense of the constant fear in which the great man lives. Cicero uses this story as the last in a series of contrasting examples for reaching the conclusion he had been moving towards in this fifth Disputation, in which the theme is that virtue is sufficient for living a happy life. Cicero asks
“Does not Dionysius seem to have made it sufficiently clear that there can be nothing happy for the person over whom some fear always looms?”
A slightly different moral to the story of the Sword of Damocles is that, “The value of the sword is not that it falls, but rather, that it hangs.”
7. Master Sword
The Master Sword (also known as The Blade of Evil’s Bane or as the Sword of Time) is typically the most powerful weapon in a Zelda game for general usage; with the exception of the Biggoron Sword, Gilded Sword, Great Fairy’s Sword, and the upgrades in A Link to the Past. The Master Sword will usually have a power level of two or three times that of the starting sword. Zelda states that the sword was created by Ancient Sages. However, Skyward Sword, which takes place before the events of Ocarina of Time and A Link to the Past, reveals that the Master Sword was originally once known as the Skyward Sword, where it rested in a floating island above the clouds known as Skyloft. The backstory to A Link to the Past reveals the Master Sword’s purpose as the sword which could combat the power of an evil person misusing the Triforce.