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The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch

The menagerie of beasts and artefacts depicted in RFC8140 may be usefully supplemented by other renowned figures of Internet and more general lore. This document extends the menagerie to the seminal fable of the "Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch", as depicted in the Monty Python film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", as well as "Spamalot", the musical inspired by the movie.
The relevance of the musical "Spamalot" to Internet lore should be obvious to the reader; but in case of doubt, see also Section 1 ("What is Spam*?") of RFC2635.


The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "NOT RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in BCP 14 [RFC2119] [RFC8174] when, and only when, they appear in all capitals, as shown here.

1. Introduction

[RFC8140] refers to the intended move of RFC formatting to XML2RFC v3 [RFC7990], in the following terms:

Although the RFC Editor has recently dragged the IETF kicking and screaming into the twentieth century [RFC7990] [RFC7996], there is a yearning among all right-thinking Internet architects to "keep it simple" and to return to the olden days when pigs could be given thrust without anyone taking undue offence.

— A. Farrel

While no pigs, flying or otherwise, are involved in the transition to RFC XML v3, it is opportune to enhance the [RFC8140] legendarium in the service of RFC XML v3, by illustrating its functionality through references to the mythology of Camelot, and particularly the incidents at the Cave of Caerbannog.

The screaming move into the twenty-first century is accompanied by a move back to the late twentieth century, with ASCII stylings more wonted in haunts like (known to be accessible in 1996.)

There are two references to rabbits in Monty Python and the Holy Grail which are expounded on herewith:

Trojan Rabbit

In their siege of the French-occupied castle which may already contain an instance of the Grail, Sir Bedevere the Wise proposes to use a Trojan Rabbit to infiltrate the castle, with a raiding party to take the French "not only by surprise, but totally unarmed."

The proposal, unsurprisingly, proved abortive. The more so as the raiding party forgot to hide within the Trojan Rabbit, before the French soldiers took the Trojan Rabbit inside the castle.

Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog

Guarding the entrance to the Cave of Caerbannog; see The Mythos of Caerbannog.

2. The French-occupied castle

The participants of that renowned exercise in cross-cultural communication, to wit the exchange between the Knights of the Round Table and the taunting French soldiers serving under Guy de Lombard are, properly speaking, outside the scope of this menagerie, being more or less human. Notwithstanding, severalish beasts both animated and wooden played a significant part in this encounter; most notably:

Example 1. The Projectile Cow with an accompanying cannon
,..,.,.,.,.,..,.,,..,.,.,.,.,.,,  ^^  .,,.,.,  ^^   .,.,.,.=
_>-.-.-.-._>_>_>_.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.  \\\  .,.,.  ///  .-.-.-.-.
.,.,.,.,..,.,..,.,.,..,.,.,,..,.,  \ \_______/ /    .,.,.,.,
.,.,.,.,..,.,.,.,..,,..,,.,.,.,.,.  <[ {o} . ]>  #   .,.,.,.
.-.-.--.-.-.-.-.-.--.-.-.-.--.-.-.   [ ______]       .-.-.-.
.-.--.-.-.-.--.-.-.-.--.-.-.,.,.,  / [ !  ` `]   .,.,..,.,.-
.,.,.,.-.-,l,-,l.-,.,.,.,-.,*.    /  {_!MOO!_}    . ., . . ,
.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-    /M      /    -.-<>.,.,..-.-,
.-.-.--.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.--..   /MI    LK\____    .-.-.-.-.-.
.-.-.-.--.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-   /MILK   mil_____k   ,.,.,..-,-
.-,-.-,-.,-.-,-.`-.-/-..     //    -`  //       .-.p . .-.-.
.-.--.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.        //   .,   //    .-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-
.-.-.--.-.-.-.-.-.-.  %____============    .-.-.--.-.-.-.-.-
-.-.-.-.--.-.-.-.-.-.      !  !           .,-.-.-,-,--,-.-,-
,--.-.-,--.--.-.,--,        \ \      .-,-,--.-,--,-.---,-.-,
,-.-.-,-,-.-,-,-.--,         +  >    .-,--,-.--,-,-.-.-,--,-
,--.-,--,-,--.---,-               .-,-,--.--,--,-.---,-,-.-.
.,.,.,.,..,.,.,.{A\      .,.,.,.,..,.,.,.,.,.,..,.,.,.,..,.,
.,.,.,.,.,.,.{GLASS\   .,..,.,.,.,.,..,.,.,.,.,.,.,..,.,.,.,
Example 2. The Trojan Rabbit with an automatic sliding door
                           ___  ____
                          //_ \//\__\
                            || ||  |
                       //         \--_
                      //     ____     --___
                     //     //   \         \-_
                    //      \\  @/        o ||
                   //        ----      _____||
                  //                   //
             //\_//__                 //
           //--  --- \____           //
          //          --- \______   //
         //   , .          ----- \_//_
        //       ,.               --- \____
       //              .,v             --- \___
      //                                 __ -- \_
     ||  ,         _______________       //||     |-_
     ||           |   |''''''''''|     // ||     |  |
     ||     '     |   |          |        ||     |  |
     ||           |   |          |        ||     |  |
     ||      "    |   | 0        |     ___||___  |  |
     ||           |   |          |     --------  |  |
     ||___        |   |          |        ______ |  |-
    //     \      |   |          |       //     \| _| \
   //       \ ____|---|__________|______//       \/    |
  ||    X    |      /                  ||    X    |   /
   \\       /\\____/                    \\       /___/
    \\_____/ -----                       \\_____/---
     -----                                -----

While the exchange at the French-occupied castle is one of the more memorable scenes of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the Trojan Rabbit has not reached the same level of cultural resonance as its more murderous counterpart. Reasons for this may include:

  • Less overall screen-time dedicated to the Trojan Rabbit.

  • The Trojan Rabbit as projectile has already been anticipated by the Cow as projectile.

The exchange of projectile animals was the beginning of a long-running fruitful relationship between the British and the French peoples, TODO: Will need to verify that claim. which arguably predates the traditional English enmity with the French. Strictly speaking, the Knights are Welsh.

This document, as it turns out, has a profusion of XML comments.

As expected, they are ignored in any rendering of the document.

3. The Mythos of Caerbannog

The Cave of Caerbannog has been well-established in the mythology of Camelot (as recounted by Monty Python) as the lair of the Legendary Black Beast of Arrrghhh, more commonly known today as the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog. It is the encounter between the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog and the Knights of the Round Table, armed with the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch (see the following section), that we recount here through monospace font and multiple spaces.

3.1. The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog

The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog, that most formidable foe of the Knights and of all that is holy or carrot-like, has been depicted diversely in lay and in song. We venture to say, contra the claim made in 4.1 of: Ze Vompyre, that the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog truly is the most afeared of all the creatures. Short of sanctified ordnance such as format=title, there are few remedies known against its awful lapine powers.

The following depiction of the fearsome beast has been sourced from Rabbit-SCII, accompanied by C code that was used in this accurate depiction of the Killer Rabbit:

Example 3. A Photo Of The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog Taken In Secret
\\\\\\\\\\\\<<#WMWMBEASTMW// \MWABBITWMW/ \MWMWMWMW##\\\\\\\
MWMWMW||___ O __|MWMWMWMMWMWMWMWMMW'   ___________//   -_^_-
MWMWMW \\||_|_||MWMW      '   . .     <_|_|_||_|__|     \O/
MW   \\/\||v v||  -\\-------___     .   .,         \     |
    \\|  \_CHIN/  ==-(|CARROT/)\>     \\/||//         v\/||/
       )          /--------^-^            ,.            \|//
 #  \(/ .\\|x//                              " ' '
  . ,                \\||//        \||\\\//   \\
Example 4. C Code To Lure Killer Rabbit Back To Cave
/* Locate the Killer Rabbit */
int type;
unsigned char *killerRabbit =
  LocateCreature(&caerbannog, "killer rabbit");
if( killerRabbit == 0 ){
  puts("The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog is out of town.");

/* Load Cave */
unsigned char *cave = LoadPlace(&caerbannog,
  "The Cave Of Caerbannog");
if( cave == 0 ){
  puts("The Cave of Caerbannog must have moved.");
  return LOST_PLACE;

/* Lure the Killer Rabbit back into the Cave */
unsigned char *carrot = allocateObjectInPlace(
  carrot("fresh"), cave);
if( carrot == 0 ){
  puts("No carrot, no rabbit.");
  return LOST_LURE;

/* Finally, notify the Killer Rabbit to act */
return notifyCreature(killerRabbit, &carrot);

On the beast’s encounter with the Knights of the Round Table, the following personnel engaged with it in combat:

  • Killed

    • Sir Bors

    • Sir Gawain

    • Sir Ector

  • Soiled Himself

    • Sir Robin

  • Panicked

    • King Arthur

  • Employed Ordnance

    • The Lector

    • Brother Maynard

  • Scoffed

    • Tim the Enchanter

3.2. Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch

Example 5. The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch (don’t pull the pin)
                       \\/  \/
                      __\\  /__
                     ||  //\   |
                     ||__\\/ __|
                        ||  |    ,---,
                        ||  |====`\  |
                        ||  |    '---'
                 _,/.-'#|* *|#`-._
               ,,-'#####|   |#####`-.
             ,,'########|   |########`,
            //##########| o |##########\
           ||###########|   |###########|
          ||############| o |############|
          ||------------'   '------------|
          ||o  o  o  o  o   o  o  o  o  o|
Example 6. The Sovereign’s Orb made invisible
Figure 1. Outlines of the Sovereign’s Orb

The solution to the impasse at the Cave of Caerbannog was provided by the successful deployment of the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch (see The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch (don’t pull the pin)) . Any similarity between the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch and the mythical Holy Spear of Antioch is purely intentional; any similarity between the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch and the Sovereign’s Orb of the United Kingdom (see The Sovereign’s Orb made invisible) is putatively fortuitous.

Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch

Ordnance deployed by Brother Maynard under the incantation of a lector, in order to dispense with the Foes of the Virtuous. See The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch (don’t pull the pin).

Holy Spear of Antioch

A supposed relic of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, this is one of at least four claimed instances of the lance that pierced Christ’s side. Its historical significance lies in inspiring crusaders to continue their siege of Antioch in 1098.

Sovereign’s Orb of the United Kingdom

Part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, the Sovereign’s Orb is a hollow gold sphere set with jewels and topped with a cross. It was made for Charles II in 1661. See The Sovereign’s Orb made invisible.

The instructions in the Book of Armaments on the proper deployment of the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch may be summarized as follows, although this summary SHALL NOT be used as a substitute for a reading from the Book of Armaments:

  1. Preamble: St Attila Benediction

  2. Feast of the People on Sundry Foods

    • Lambs

    • Sloths

    • Carp

    • Anchovies

    • Orangutangs

    • Breakfast Cereals

    • Fruit Bats

    • et hoc genus omne

  3. Take out the Holy Pin

  4. The Count

    1. Count is to Three: no more, no less

    2. Not Four

    3. Nor Two, except if the count then proceeds to Three

    4. Five is Right Out

  5. Lob the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards the Foe

  6. The Foe, being naughty in the LORD’s sight, shall snuff it

This could also be represented in pseudocode as follows:

  1. Take out the Holy Pin

  2. The Count

    integer count;
    for count := 1 step 1 until 3 do
    comment Five is Right Out
  3. Lob the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards the Foe

  4. Foe snuffs it

4. Dramatis Personae

The following human (more-or-less) protagonists were involved in the two incidents recounted as lore of the Knights of the Round Table:

French Castle Cave of Caerbannog

King Arthur


Sir Bedevere the Wise

Sir Galahad the Pure

Sir Lancelot the Brave

Sir Robin the Not-quite-so-brave-as-Sir-Lancelot

French Guard with Outrageous Accent

Tim the Enchanter

Other French Guards

Brother Maynard

The Lector

not yet recruited

Sir Bors

Sir Gawain

Sir Ector

Retinue of sundry knights

Retinue of sundry more knights than at the French Castle

4.1. Past the Killer Rabbit

Once the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog (A Photo Of The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog Taken In Secret) had been dispatched, the Knights of the Round Table uncovered the last words of Joseph of Arimathea, inscribed on the Cave of Caerbannog in Aramaic. While the precise Aramaic wording has not survived, we trust the following Hebrew subtitles will serve as an acceptable substitute:

.כאן אולי ימצאו המילים האחרונות של יוסף מארמתיה .מי אשר יהיה אמיץ ובעל נפש טהורה יוכל למצוא את הגביע הקדוש בטירת אאאאאאאה

"Here may be found the last words of Joseph of Arimathea. He who is valiant and pure of spirit may find the Holy Grail in the castle of — Aaaargh."

5. IANA Considerations

IANA might consider a registry to track the mythical, especially ravaging beasts, such as the Killer Rabbit, who haunt the Internet.

6. Security Considerations

Do not let the Killer Rabbit out under any circumstance.

I repeat. Do not let the Killer Rabbit (A Photo Of The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog Taken In Secret) out.

Normative References

Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels

Informative References

Monty Python and the Holy Grail DON'T SPEW A Set of Guidelines for Mass Unsolicited Mailings and Postings (spam*) RFC Format Framework The Arte of ASCII: Or, An True and Accurate Representation of an Menagerie of Thynges Fabulous and Wonderful in Ye Forme of Character Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC 2119 Key Words RFC 2119 specifies common key words that may be used in protocol specifications. This document aims to reduce the ambiguity by clarifying that only UPPERCASE usage of the key words have the defined special meanings.
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