Thursday, 25 October 2012

Gratillonius' Responsibilities

In Roma Mater (London, 1989) by Poul and Karen Anderson, Gaius Valerius Gratillonius is:

an initiate in the Mystery of Mithras;
a Roman Centurion;
the Prefect of Rome in the city of Ys;
the King of Ys;
the Incarnation of the Ysan God, Taranis.

Thus, Gratillonius incarnates Taranis but worships Mithras and represents a state that recognizes Christ. As Prefect, he must consult Bishops and appoint a Christian minister to Ys.

If history had gone differently, then the theologizing mind could have systematized Gratillonius' three deities as a natural and supernatural trinity:

Taranis, sky father;
Mithras, whose ancient sacrifice of the primordial Bull fructified nature;
Christ, whose recent sacrifice of himself sanctifies souls.

That did not happen but there were ancient attempted syntheses. Marcion formulated "Gospel and Apostle," i.e., Luke and Paul, regarding it as antithetical to "Law and Prophets," whereas the Christian Bible incorporates Old and New Testaments with the latter seen as fulfilling the former. Later, Mani claimed to synthesize the teachings of Zoroaster, the Buddha and Jesus.

Gratillonius' complicated military, political and religious responsibilities must be fulfilled in a world that differs from ours to the extent that divine intervention is not only believed but also seen to occur. By the power of Belisama, the King's virility never fails with any of the Nine but always fails with any other woman. The Nine bear only girls who become vestals. When any of the Nine dies, a red crescent appears on one of the vestals. She is the next Queen. No law prevents a daughter of the current King from being marked but incest is as unacceptable to a Mithraist as to a Christian.

Thus, when the Three intend to end their Pact with the city, they make this impossible demand and Gratillonius' daughter, Dahut, alienated by what she sees as his rejection of her, becomes the agent of the city's destruction. But, before that, we read three long volumes set in Ys of the colored towers, Lir and Taranis Ways, Goose Fair and Elven Gardens.

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