As silly as this may seem at first, the key to understanding Odgar IV is in the pronunciation of his name. That's "IV", pronounced as in "I've". It is not the numeral four. It is not "I Vee". Odgar IV was extremely sensitive about his name. On the one hand, he was continually distraught that people insisted on mispronouncing it. On the other hand, since it was an ancient and honored family name, he couldn't very well discard it.
Thus, in everything, from the earliest age Odgar IV strove to excel, not so that he would be the best, but so that everyone would know his name and its correct pronunciation. He figured that if he was announced as the winner of anything, everyone would hear the correct way to say his name, and they would remember it. So, for this reason more than any other, Odgar IV rose to prominence in the arts, sciences, and athletics, and was soon seen in publications all over Ghyll.
Alas, when Odgar IV was 14, and he thought he was finally past having to explain, he entered the pie-eating contest at the Calends Gala. When he went to the stage to receive his prize, the judge announced him very loudly as "Odgar the fourth." At this moment, according to his diary: I determined that I would be the ruler of the land, and extract the strictest penalties for mispronunciation of my name.
Thus was the despot created.
Rise to power
Odgar IV's rise to power began quietly enough. First, as Student Body President at Bute University, he instituted legislation that levied a fine for the "willful mispronunciation of the name of a fellow-student." This was put forward as part of a comprehensive bill supposed to make students feel more accepted, but this was the only clause that was ever enforced. 483 times that year, to be exact, if we are to believe Odgar's journal.
From there, he went through a variety of small, unimportant offices, including Town Council and several years in the Board of Directors of a small Besq Boat company.
Suddenly, at the age of 28, in -266 EC, he very unexpectedly got himself elected to the post of rejah. He took on the rather pompous title of "The Great and Grand Odgar IV, Rejah and Ruler of All That I Survey", and established what he referred to ever after as "The Court of Odgar IV."
The Court of Odgar IV
The Court of Odgar IV consisted of a small house in the Eastern quarter of Iganefta. While the name may have been somewhat more grandiose than the house itself warranted, it would be unwise to underestimate the influence on our society by this Court.
First, a word of definition. The name "Court" was bestowed on this establishment, not due to royal pretensions, or other affairs of state, but because, each day, from morning until early afternoon, Odgar IV held court, deciding the questions that troubled his neighbors. Gradually, over the 27 years of his tenure as rejah, Odgar's influence grew until people were coming to see him from all over Ghyll.
As Odgar IV's influence grew, his interests expanded beyond deciding disputes to the realm of art. He was particularly interested in music, and composed 128 songs that we currently still have, as well as hundreds of others which are lost. His habit was to take a break for lunch when the sun was high, and to compose a song which he would perform as his court resumed. These were never performed more than once, and, once performed, he would destroy any copy he might have made of the music or words.
Records from the time state that his compositions were beautiful, rich in harmonization, and unpredictable. Those that we have left to us were transcribed by a roving minstrel, as we will see in a moment.
As word spread of his musical abilities, people began to gather not only for his wisdom, but to hear his music. Since the music was performed just once and not written down, these musicians would go home, attempt to remember some of what they heard, and compose songs in a similar style. Because of this, the musical influence of this remarkable man spread to the uttermost parts of Ghyll.
Odgar IV's other passion was furniture. Although he was not nearly as good at furniture design as he was at music, still, his ideas spread far and wide, and you can still to this day see atrociously uncomfortable pieces which claim to be in the style of Odgar IV. Avoid them if you value your comfort.
The untimely end
As Odgar IV's fame and popularity spread, his obsession about correct pronunciation of his name waned. However, in -239 EC, an incident occurred which had widespread effects and eventually led to his untimely end.
A travelling mistrel had arrived in the Court of Odgar IV four years earlier and remarked on the musical talent of Odgar IV and on the terrible waste of his compositions being discarded without more than a handful of listeners. For the next four years, this minstrel arrived in the court around lunch time, and left after each afternoon performance. At the end of this time, in -239 EC, a collection of songs was published entitled Songs of Odgar The Fourth. This book is still available today, due to its enormous impact on the music of all of Ghyll.
Odgar IV was incensed, both because of the theft of his music, and because of the widespread publication of a mispronunciation of his name. How the minstrel could have visited the court for four years and not been aware of Odgar IV's feelings about his name, it is impossible to say. Of course, many scholars think that it was a deliberate attempt at a joke, which misfired horribly.
On the very day of publication, the mistrel once again showed up in the Court and was immediately accosted by the enraged Odgar IV. Exactly what passed between them is not known, as Odgar IV called the minstrel into his private rooms and only the sounds of shouting and breaking furniture were heard. When the attendants finally broke into the room, the minstrel was gone through the phaelros window, and Odgar IV lay dead on the floor, with one of his own chairs broken over his head.
The minstrel was never located, and his name is not known. His book continued to sell well, and still does today. To this day, proceeds from the sale of the book go to the Odgar IV Society. It has never been clear what the Society does, nor what happens to the money.
The historical ramifications of this man are much larger than seem to be warranted by all he accomplished in his life. Much of this can simply be traced to his musical contributions, and the fact that every major anthem and theme song can probably be attributed to him in some way.
It is reported that the Budgerigar Master served in the Court. Odgar IV himself makes only one brief and veiled reference to this character in one of his journal entries: Saw Budgie today in Court. Asked for a glass of water. He gave me wine. Think he's trying to tell me something.
--DrBacchus 22:06, 20 Jan 2005 (EST)
I omitted, due to lack of actual historical evidence, the stories that Odgar IV used to have people put to death when they mispronounced his name. When I was a child, my mother used to recite the poem to me, as I'm sure yours did: "When he said IV, he stayed alive, when he said four, he lived no more." Presumably, this poem was to encourage me to do as I was told, but even then I wondered who the "he" was, and whether the poem was, in fact, more about the importance of not putting too much significance on trivial things. --DrBacchus 08:50, 22 Jan 2005 (EST)