Sunday, 16 February 2014

Stoa And Song

Poul Anderson, The Shield of Time (New York, 1991).

In the besieged Bactra, "Everard...worked his way quietly through street and stoa, around the city..." (p. 77)

A stoa is a covered walkway (see image) and the Stoic philosophy is named after one, which I had not known. I still have to consult a dictionary when reading Anderson.

I mentioned in a previous post that I thought that the Exaltationist language was said to sound like song. It seems that it is a single Exaltationist's voice rather than their language that is so described. Timotheus, a slave dealer whom Everard meets in a bath, has heard a description of the courtesan Theonis which includes "...voice like song..." (p. 50). And when Everard spies and eavesdrops, "...her voice sang more than said." (p. 83)

The language, which Everard has had imprinted and will have scrubbed only when the last Exaltationist is caught, comprises precise, concise, euphonious purrs and trills.

The Exaltationists Still At Large
Raor, the female of Merau Varagan, is the courtesan, Theonis.
Draganizu is her kinsman, Nicomachus, a priest of Poseidon.
Sauvo is Xeniades, Theonis' majordomo.
Buleni is Polydorus, an aide to King Antiochus and a Poseidon devotee.

While Antiochus besieges Bactra, Nicomachus, under safe conduct, will convey military intelligence to Buleni at a temple outside the city. Thus, the Exaltationists will engineer the unhistorical fall of Bactra.

In 209 BC, the time travelers on Earth comprise:

the Exaltationists;
hundreds of historical investigators, scientists, entrepreneurs, esthetes and esoterics;
Patrol stations in Rome, Egyptian Alexandria, Syrian Antioch, Hecatompylos, Patalipushtra, Hien-yang and Cuicuilco;
smaller regional posts;
Unattached agent Everard.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Hmmm, covered walkways called "stoas"? I'm reminded of the curving colonnades built by Bernini for St. Peter's Basilica and Piazza.