The Museum of Mistakes (Spoilers!)

(I put a spoiler warning in the title so I’m not going to use the tags here, be forewarned.)

I believe it was in the storyline associating with Radical Academics, but some time ago I was privileged enough to visit the infamous Museum of Mistakes. Two of the exhibits within I was able to identify easily (though I may continue to doubt these higher profile exhibits are genuine) , but a third has perplexed me to no end. The “scrap of black sailcloth labeled ‘Achaean c. 1200 BC’” is clearly from Theseus’ ill fated venture. The unlabeled half-eaten fig at the centerpiece of the museum is clearly intended to be the very fruit that caused the fall of Man. However, what of the “two locks of hair, one dark, one amber coloured”? I haven’t been able to make any sense of this exhibit and it continues to pique my curiosity, particularly considering the monumental import (if genuine) of the other two exhibits.
Any insights?

The &quottwo locks of hair&quot only remind me of Wadsworth’s famous poem, but it doesn’t have any mythological references… and one would’ve to take &quotamber&quot for &quotblond&quot, of course. But it would fit the Bazaar’s interest in love stories, especially with tragic endings…

edited by Rupho Schartenhauer on 3/24/2015

Insufficient data to construct a reliable hypothesis. Plausible hypothesis until further information is acquired: The locks of hair belong to the ones who ate the fruit, namely Adam and Eve. Grounds: The colours imply two different people. Lack of names implies that names are unnecessary - everyone should know them. This is the Museum of Mistakes, and it can be argued that they made a biggie. The fruit is here, why not themselves.

Interesting theory, but if two of the exhibits were about the same mistake, I’d expect the third to be as well. Hence, I tend to think they are three different mistakes. Your mileage may vary. :D

But I have no guesses on whose hair it is.

Mr. Burandt, a possibility, but I’d consider “amber coluored” to be more red than blond if anything. My first thought was to the fairy tale of Snow White and Rose Red, but I’m not sure if that applies since where would the mistake fit in?

Hmm. Either Romeo/Juliet or the mix-up from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The asymmetry of it being Adam and Eve would be aesthetically unpleasing, being two from one body of stories, and one from another.

How about Gilgamesh and Enkidu instead?

I like that one. I’d bet that there will be Gilgamesh references in the game once we learn more about the First City…

Thanks – of course, when I mentioned this to my wife last night, she came up with Samson and Delilah, which seems a better fit with the theme of ‘minor personal mistake turned to massive tragedy,’ so there’s that idea too.

I’m not familiar enough with the bible to know, is the colour of the hair in the story of Sampson and Delilah significant? And why would there be two colours? I only know about the single haircut aspect of the story. There are three elements here, the hair being significant, the two different colours, and a mistake being involved. Snow white and Rose Red has the hair and colours but no mistake, and Sampson and Delilah has (as far as I know) the hair and the mistake but as far as I know no significance to two colours thereof. Is there a hair aspect to Gilgamesh and Enkidu? Again, I only know vague aspects of that story as well, how would it fit?
In Romeo and Juliet no mention is given to the hair colour of either party, and if the “mistake” there were to be commemorated I expect it would be with the message that Balthasar was supposed to deliver or something along those lines. Helena and Hermia of Midsummer Night’s Dream makes more sense with the hair colour, but the happy ending doesn’t fit in with the rest of the mistakes. Taking into consideration the more Fallen London-ish exhibits, these are definitely big disaster-producing mishaps not mixups that are resolved within a single night’s time.

Sorry to be so negative, but nothing seems to quite fit yet. I also looked into a few other stories for possibilities (with Castor and Pollux or Helen and Clytemnestra I thought the hair colours might fit, but I can’t find sources for that, and then the idea of partial divinity made me think of the culturally different but thematically similar stories of Achilles and Baldur each being made almost-immortal but a mistake in the process ultimately causing their deaths. With Achilles Greek and Baldur Norse they probably have opposing hair colours too, but since the stories have so little to do with each other it would be silly to display relics of them together and besides the hair is irrelevant, I’m just grasping at straws here.)
Clearly, this has been bothering me for a long time and I’ve probably over-thought it.
edited by KatarinaNavane on 1/5/2012

Maybe it was right there before our eyes all the time… Actually, I should’ve thought about this earlier:

The Ancient Greek name for amber was electron (ήλεκτρον). Theophrastus was possibly the first to ever mention the material, in the 4th century B.C.

The given name Electra was directly derived from this word. There were quite a few Electras in Greek mythology and literature, possibly because the name alone was enough to evoke a vibrant image of the woman thus named. I think it quite safe to assume that &quotElectras&quot were imagined as having amber-colored hair (just like you would immediately imagine a literary character named &quotGinger&quot as having red hair).

The most famous Electra, of course, was the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. She and her brother Orestes took bloody revenge against their mother and stepfather for the murder of their father, Agamemnon. I don’t remember Orestes’ hair color ever being mentioned in the original texts, but he is usually depicted with dark hair (like here, for example).

The story itself is quite famous, so I won’t repeat it here. I think it fits, and the locks of hair should be Electra’s and Orestes’.
edited by Rupho Schartenhauer on 3/24/2015

Clever, Mr. Burandt! That may be the best so far. I’m still not completely convinced. The hair colour seems accurate and using the root word there is quite clever, but the hair isn’t all that significant to the story, and is it mistake enough?

I’m really pretty certain about this, actually (much to my own surprise), but the benefit of doubt must always be granted, of course.

About the hair: isn’t it significant enough that such a peculiar color like amber is used here? It’s definitely a clue – leading to Electron, to Electra. And she, in turn, is the lead to the origin of the second lock: at least in Aeschylus’ account of the story, a lock of Orestes’ hair is explicitly mentioned as one of a series of tokens by which Electra recognizes him as her brother (whom she hadn’t seen since childhood). [In Euripides’ version she recognizes him by a scar; Sophocles lets Orestes reveal himself to her.]

About the mistake being significant enough: I should think so. It is the ultimate revenge story, the desire for vengeance being a universal flaw of humanity encountered in all civilizations. (Possibly each of the other exhibits represents a similar “human stain” – this could relate to Stained Souls, Seven Deadly Sins…) All three of the great Athenian tragedians wrote their own version of it; in later centuries, operas, novels etc. recounted the story endlessly [u]i – just as with Theseus [i]u.

Overall, I find it pretty conclusive and will stick to it until someone offers an even better solution. ;)

Certainly until something better is offered, but I don’t intend to stop looking for better. I think my skepticism is with the other two big examples, the object on display IS the mistake. The black sail is the mistake in Theseus’ story and the fruit is the mistake in Genesis, I’m just not convinced that the hair itself is relevant enough to the ‘mistake’ of the story to be definitive here. Does it fit better than most of the other things we’ve thought of so far? Yes. Does it fit this story as well as the other two items fit theirs? Not really, I don’t think.

In any rate I am enjoying the journey to discovery here and certainly learning in the process! I feel this discussion should be happening in the drawing room over tea or perhaps a good greyfields vintage, don’t you?

Yes, that certainly is a strong argument. But shouldn’t the museum be exhibiting all sorts of Mistakes? I remember some objects that don’t fit in with the three you mentioned in your starting post at all… wasn’t there even a Bifurcated Owl?

A bottle of the '68, with compliments from Mr Wines… or maybe even some Broken Giant, when debating matters from before the fall…

Not an owl, I think, but a giant two-headed bat. And a “cabinet full of recovered musket balls”. And the First City coins, of course. Any of these might have been mistakes…

There is also a mention that the microscope that researchers used to attempt to examine 'neath snow remains in the museum as well, in a dreadful state. But most of the other objects seem more tied to matters of the 'neath rather than those of surface mythologies. The hair seemed grouped with the mythological exhibits, but perhaps I am looking in the wrong place, it could be a matter of the Bazaar and one of the previous cities. I would be disappointed if it were though, after all this work!

The only story I can remember where two locks of hair were themselves at the heart of a misunderstanding is Sense and Sensibility… But the colours may not match, and it would be odd to see a Regency novel alongside Biblical and Ancient Greek relics.

This is a bit of a tangent, but on the topic of the other objects in the Museum: the First City coins. There are 30, correct? Someone mentioned in the “theories on previous cities” thread that Judas was paid 30 silver coins for betraying Jesus, a possible hint that the First City was Jerusalem (or from around that time period). If the coins are listed as a “mistake”, then it is highly probable that those coins represent that very betrayal. Just a thought.

Alas, I have no idea what the locks of hair represent. I have little interest in Classical literature, which it is almost certainly a reference to.

On my recent visit, I was able to examine the two exhibits mentioned, as well as the pile of 30 First City coins and the mansize stuffed two-headed bat. The first thing that came to my mind concerning the locks of hair was Princess Scylla, whose father had a purple lock of hair which made him invincible. She fell in love with King Minos and present him with the lock, but he spurned her and she was drowned. That said, it’s quite a tenuous link, as I have no idea what the other lock would be about, and it seems the amber-coloured one is more important in any case.

Nothing comes to mind about the two-headed bat. You’d think a tale of that sort would stick in the memory.