June 3rd, 2010

badass dave

What's with the Japanese ghost-killing swords?

I really thought that finding information on this would be easy, but it's been a frustrating endeavor with zilch for results.

What's with the Japanese ghost-killing swords? I've seen this plot device used over and over in Japanese anime, tv shows, movies, and video games - a magic sword, usually described as "cursed," usually a katana, that can "kill" ghosts. There was even a ghost-killing gun in one tv show. The last two episodes of "Xena" included a Japanese character known as the "Ghost Killer" who weilded a katana. Where does this come from? Usually when you see a particular theme being used repeatedly in Japanese media (the nine-tailed fox, the three sacred treasures, etc), it comes from their mythology or the Buddhist religion. But I can't find a thing about ghost-killing swords in any myth; everything I saw online referred to various tv shows, video games, and movies that include swords like this. It's gotta come from somewhere. Help!

Search terms I've tried: Japanese ghost killing sword, demon killing sword, ghost slaying sword, all of this with variations involving the words "ghost," "kill," "slay," "katana," and "Japanese."

Thanks for any help you can provide.

Latin Phrase, Roman Magistrates in Spain, and 1920s Serial Killer Synonyms...

A question or two on Latin, Roman magistrates and 1920s terminology...

1) My Latin being atrocious, can anyone tell me if Amici Orientales Nostri translates accurately to 'Our Eastern Friends'?

2) I've read up on Imperial Roman Hispania, circa AD50, and believe I have a general grasp of its nuances. However, I am having some trouble understanding exactly who in a large township (in this case Tarraco) held what position. Some books say that local governance and officials would have been handled by magistrates and their staff, while others say control was done through local councilors (who, I assume, weren't Roman citizens?). The question therefore is: who are the authority in large towns or cities outside Rome proper? What sort of positions were held? Were they equestrian, senators, plebs, or could anyone hold them - including 'foreigners'?

3) The phrase 'serial killer' was coined around the 1970s, however, my story is set in the 1920s and I cannot find a suitable term that would cover the same type of murderer (I've looked at books and clippings from the Whitechapel Ripper through to the Cleveland Torso Killer and cannot find a specific 'catch-all' phrase). Is there any historically accurate terminology for 'serial killer' in the era?

Many thanks!

Searches were done on Wikipedia and Google (using the obvious suspects: 'magistrates' - and their individual subcategories - 'Roman Empire', 'Tarraco', 'government', 'Roman councilors', etc.) and in various books on Rome. Serial killer question was looked up in newspapers and books; wiki and Google were no help.