Saturday, 23 April 2016

Literary Wealth

The blogging process is associative, not linear. I have read to the end of The Prince by Jerry Pournelle and SM Stirling, not having started from the beginning. However, I do not want to turn back and read more Pournellean military sf right now. My attention is drawn outwards across the universe, not inwards down the barrel of a gun.

Reading about Pournelle's and Stirling's Spartan Senate recalled Poul Anderson's World Federation Parliament, which in turn has recalled Poul and Karen Anderson's Ysan political assembly. Opening Roma Mater (London, 1989) in search of information on this august body, I find on pp. 296-297 several Andersonian hallmarks:

a three senses description of nature;
rich vocabulary;
a Latin phrase;
sympathetic treatment of Christianity and Mithraism.

"Sunset cast scarlet and gold over the half of heaven that reached above Ocean. Water glimmered and glowed beneath the cliffs. Sounds of surf came muted. A breeze ruffled the grass on Point Vanis. It came from the north, cooling the day's warmth, bringing a smell of salt and maybe, maybe, of fields in Britannia." (p. 296)

This is colorful and sensual indeed:

sunset, scarlet, gold, heaven and Ocean in a single sentence;
water glimmering and glowing and cliffs in the second sentence;
sounds of surf;
a breeze in the grass;
warmth and coolness;
smells from the sea and from Gratillonius' home.

Legionaries bear and lower a coffin, salute, turn and march away:

"As Christians, they could give no more honours to their officer." (ibid.)

That is honor enough from Christians to a Mithraist. His co-religionists stay:

"...the Mithraists in their vexillation." (ibid.)

"STTL...Sit tibi terra levis - May the earth lie light upon you." (p. 297)

The Mithraist soul embarks on a Dantean journey, leaving:

its vitality to the Moon;
its voracity to Mercurius;
its carnality to Venus;
its intellectuality to the Sun;
its militancy to Mars;
its pride to Jupiter;
its selfhood to Saturn -

- then entering the Light and eternal Oneness with Ahura-Mazda. See also here.

More colors:

"Colours died in the sky. It shaded from silvery in the west to royal blue in the east. The earliest stars trembled forth.
"'Let us go back,' said Gratillonius." (p. 297)

Now I must try to learn about Ysan politics. 


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I remember this incident from ROMA MATER! And one point to keep in mind was the strong opposition Gratillonius' faced from Ysans who objected to him burying his fiend and fellow soldier on Point Vanis. An opposition based on the Ysan religious belief against burial in the earth. Gratillonius had to overcome protests from both the Nine Queens and from the Suffetes or Ysan councilors. In other words, politics.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Ugh, important correction to make in my first sentence above: I meant FRIEND not "fiend." Gggggggggrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr