Thursday, 27 August 2015

Life In 209 BC II

As if he had been there then, Poul Anderson reports on aspects of life in Bactria, 209 BC.

New ideas:

"At last the teaching of Gautama Buddha would ebb from his native India until there it was all but forgotten. Today it still flourished, and the tide of it flowed strongly outward." (The Shield Of Time, p. 47)


"...those merchants, caravaneers, guards, mendicants, monks, and other travelers were numerous, hailing from a wide range of territories." (ibid.)

An urban environment:

"The sanctuary-cum-hostel was a modest adobe building, a former tenement, in Ion's lane off the Street of the Weavers...the neighbors crammed wall to wall against it..." (ibid.)

Urban life:

"The streets seethed." (p. 48)


"...most people in the ancient world were more or less fatalistic." (p. 49)

But also practicality:

"Events to come might work out for the better instead of the worst. Undoubtedly many a mind was occupied with schemes to make an extra profit from the situation." (ibid.)


"Fortune-tellers, charm vendors, and shrines did land-office business." (ibid.)


"Men panted for any fresh word from outside." (ibid.)

Unhelpful obligingness:

"Maybe the respondent simply told Meander what he supposed Meander wanted to hear; that was an immemorial Oriental custom." (ibid.)


"'...she's endowed a small temple of Poseidon outside town. A pious work.'" (p. 50)

But also cynicism:

"'It gives employment to her kinsman...its priest.'" (ibid.)

Fast food:

lentils and onions in a chapatti bought from a street vendor; not coffee but diluted sour wine. (p. 51)

Thus, we feel as if we have been there with Manse Everard of the Time Patrol.

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