1. aimeekath
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    aimeekath Senior Member

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    Do you think the 'shepherd' metaphor is overused?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by aimeekath, May 9, 2012.

    In a prologue I've written for my current project, I've referred to the enemy as Shepherds and the rebels as goats. For example -

    "The shepherds have a treacherous plan. A plan to hack audaciously through the lives and souls of many a people with a cheerful enthusiasm, only found in the most exquisite of madmen. But I am a goat amongst sheep...."

    Do you think this kind of metaphor is overused/ a cliche?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    No, but I think it is a bit weak. Sheep and goats compete for the same grazing area, but other than that, there;s little threat to either the sheep or their shepherds by goats. Nor are sheep the best model for a marauding army.
     
  3. aimeekath
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    aimeekath Senior Member

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    Hmm, I suppose you do make a valid point :)
     
  4. lettuchi
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    lettuchi Member

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    I dunno, I kinda like it. But isn't the saying "separate the sheep from the goats"? As in the goats are bad and the sheep are good? Is that connotation something you want?
     
  5. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Outside of its religious implications, it sounds a little ridiculous. Thinking of someone as a goat is just gonna make me laugh. Can you imagine, a climatic moment when there's the line, "And then, I decided - I will become a goat."

    Or, "There was a flock of sheep menacing the people, but there are always the goats amongst them who do not fear!"

    And then if there're no religious connotations to your book, then all the more, I think you should use different terminologies. I'm a Christian and the first thing I thought was "Ah, there goes yet ANOTHER anti-God, anti-Bible, anti-Christ person trying to make the world think badly of God and religion"

    Now of course that may not be true, but you must realise, it's a famous and well-known enough analogy within Christianity that Jesus calls His people His "sheep" and He is the Great Shepherd (remember the quote, "I am the Good Shepherd. I lay down my life for my sheep...") And there's of course the parable where he separates the sheep from the goats - and the goats are the sinners who did not follow Christ.

    So unless you're looking to tackle/attack this particular idea/doctrine, I suggest you use something else, otherwise if it ever gets published, you'll get tonnes of neg reviews and discussions that's all out of context to what you intended.
     
  6. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    The sheep and the goats means the faithful and the unfaithful. In a literative fashion, it sets an easily understood dichotomy.

    At a board meeting you might want to discuss lay-offs segmented by a top to bottom cut in some areas, rather than bottom only. Your goal is to get rid of the deadwood.

    You would make your presentation to the CFO as a move to "separate the sheep from the goats." A valid and understandable analogy, and it has nothing to do with religion.
     
  7. MissRis
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    MissRis Contributing Member

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    What about using separating the chaff from the wheat instead? It means the same thing as separating the 'goats from the sheep,' but it may allow you to use the imagery of threshing the wheat - which seems like it is a vicious image (to me) and may relate better to the army theme? I know contemporally they use a machine to do this, but back in the day they did it manually with a flail.
     
  8. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Hmmm. True, but the sheep get sacrificed. Might also imply a vicious image.
     
  9. MissRis
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    MissRis Contributing Member

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    Touche.
    But Shepherd's don't sacrifice their sheep, do they? Isn't that counter intuitive to minding the sheep?
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A bit of a cliche given that most readers have little familiarity with grain processing. A more accessible metaphor might be preferable. I also don't think separating wheat from chaff is quite the analogy aimeekath is looking for. She's talking more about infiltration than separation.
     
  11. MissRis
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    MissRis Contributing Member

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    It's no more cliched than the goat/sheep analogy and it means exactly the same thing.
     
  12. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    If I remember my spiritual training, I believe that fell to the Levites.

    (Okay, okay, ya' got me! ;) )
     
  13. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    I also don't think the shepherd analogy makes a good enemy. I was raised an Anglican and the first thing I thought of when you said shepherd was 'the good shepherd'. So the shepherd is the good guy, tends to his flock, keeps the wolves at bay. Making him the bad guy just seems wrong to me. Also goats and sheep graze together, and though it goes against the origin of the name, shepherds often tend to flocks of goats as well.

    The analogy I think you're looking for is something along the lines of the proud rebel versus the authoritarian police. Chaos against control. Star Wars. So maybe you could go for something more along the lines of Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat versus the ever bungling state. As I recall the rat James Degrizz often thought of the people as sheep.

    Cheers Greg.
     
  14. aimeekath
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    aimeekath Senior Member

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    Yes, I was kind of going for the sheep being like followers, always going with what the enemy or 'shepherd' says. But as you said, it is a literative fashion and I was thinking I should avoid doing something that might be overused. Do you know any other books (apart from the Bible) that do something similar perchance? Also, I was thinking that the goats could try and convert the sheep over to their way of thinking, and bringing about a larger rebellion.

    I kind of want a vicious image since it's all a dystopian type society. Although it could imply that my heroine wants the sheep to die, rather than actually trying to save them from opression.

    Correct. But thank you for the wheat and chaff suggestion :)

    I'll take a look at it. Thank you everyone for your always insightful feedback.
     
  15. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    I've always preferred the word "sleeper agent". It sounds insidious and Russian, like a super-secret top espionage plan TO OVERTHROW THE EVIL SHEPHERD'S REIGN WAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

    On a side note, in the almost-excellent book Candlejak, the "Bad Shepherd" is a side character that has an evil alignment but is basically a wildcard. That's what your metaphor made me think off.

    [Actually, come to think of it, the Bad Shephard doesn't actually exist and when people talk about him they mostly say thinks like "that's a douche" and forget about it.]
     
  16. aimeekath
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    aimeekath Senior Member

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    Lol. I'll take a look at the book :)
     
  17. JonSpear360
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    JonSpear360 Member

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    Most metaphors are overused. That doesn't mean they can't be used well, though.
     

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