Thursday, 31 July 2014

Stupor Mundi

(Last post for July.)

In 1245beta AD, Emperor Frederick, known as Stupor Mundi, "the Amazement of the World," when introduced to the Eddas, sagas and skaldic poems, says:

"'You open another whole universe!'"
-Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), p. 396.

That is what it feels like when, imaginatively, we can get right outside our inherited world view. I remember my amazement on learning that:

the Buddha was not a strange god but a compassionate man;
the Norse gods were to die at the Ragnarok;
the Aeneid links the Trojan Horse to Romulus and Remus;
there were not only comic strips but also novels that dealt with spaceships, robots and aliens - but also with adult relationships (whereas Dan Dare had never got organized with Professor Peabody).

Frederick says, "'...if time allows...,' not 'God' as a medieval man ordinarily would." (p. 395) Does he somehow know that he is in a divergent timeline or that, in this timeline, the state will engulf the church, just as, in alpha, the church had engulfed the state?


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I recall reading somewhere in one of Chesterton's works--as he was talking about Frederick II--that "stupor mundi" could also mean the "stupefaction of the world." Iow, Frederick II "stupefied" many of his contemporaries.

As for your last paragraph, I think it's simpler to say that by this point in the beta timeline we saw in THE SHIELD OF TIME, that Frederick II knew he had finally triumphed, alas, over the Church. Because a strong pope like Honorius II was succeeded by the weak Celestine IV, rather than the iron willed Gregory IX.


Paul Shackley said...

Right. Thanks. Good thinking.
When I don't hear from anyone for a while, I feel as if I am abominating in a vacuum - although the page view count shows me that some people are reading.
We will take various children to a seaside play park this afternoon and attend a public meeting about the First World War this evening.
The NESFA collections are now my only way of getting new (to me) PA stories to read and I have yet to order Vol 2.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Thanks! I have wondered what might have happened if, instead of quarreling with the Popes and so often breaking his agreements with them, Frederick II had arrived at a compromise with them. He still might have ended up gaining most of what he wanted, after all. Good or bad? Who knows!

I'm glad you can tell you are getting a good number of people reading here. And I wish more of them would leave notes in the combox!

World War I always reminds me of those accursed assassinations in Sarajevo and how none of the major powers in 1914 WANTED a war. Not even Serbia, for all her intriguing against Austria-Hungary. S.M. Stirling's contribution to MULTIVERSE, focusing on what might have happened if the Sarajevo assassinations had been prevented, was read with keen interest by me.

I did find the "Three Emperors Alliance" in Stirling's Time Patrol story just a bit of a stretch. What I recall from real history was that Ottoman Turkey allied with Germany and Austria because of going to war with Britain and France. If WW I had not occurred, there would have been much LESS of a motive for Turkey allying with the Central Powers. Therefore, NO Three Emperors League.

Your comment about the NESFA collections reminded me of my own essay about the uncollected works of Poul Anderson. I really wish an editor would collect never before republished stories and essays by Anderson. Even better, that we see a COMPLETED COLLECTED WORKS OF POUL ANDERSON.

Have fun with the children!


Paul Shackley said...

We stayed out so long that we missed the meeting,

S.M. Stirling said...

Germany and the Ottomans had a history of mutual support well before 1914 -- the German (and before that Prussian) armies had had military training missions there since the 1830's, for example. Wilhelm had been willing to deal with "Abdul the Damned" on a friendly basis when nobody else in Europe would, and Enver Pasha had always been pro-German. The Berlin-Baghdad Railway was launched well before the war.

I postulated that if the First Balkan War had come off, but 1914 had passed without Sarajevo, the Germans, the Dual Monarchy and the Ottomans would nevertheless be jointly alarmed by instability (and Russian influence) in the Balkans, and would act jointly to counter it.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

I do see what you mean, that Prussian dealings with Ottoman Turkey, plus both Austria-Hungary and Turkey agreeing on at least the need for stability in the Balkans and resisting Russian influence, would have given all three good reasons for allying.

And I can see why Germany being willling to deal wtih the justly despised Abdul-Hamid II of Turkey would help to foster such an alliance!

And one thing that interested me about "A Slip in Time" was how EFFICIENT and not at sloppy the Austro-Hungarians were! It gave me the idea of the Austrians deliberately encouragingi foreigners to think like that, so they would make the mistake of UNDERESTIMATING them.

Respectfully, Sean M. Brooks