Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The Cross Of Light

"...Harpagus drew the sign of the cross, which was a Mithraic sun-symbol."
-Poul Anderson, "Brave To Be A King" IN Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), pp. 55-112 AT p. 77.

"Marcus drew a sign before him, the Cross of Light that marked the shield of his warrior God."
-Poul and Karen Anderson, The King Of Ys: Roma Mater (New York, 1988), p. 58.

Marcus is a Mithraist. The second quotation informs us that Mithras, like a Crusader, defended himself in battle with a shield that is marked with a cross.

It is good to find this link between the Time Patrol and the King of Ys. These two series are historical science fiction and historical fiction with an element of fantasy, respectively. Uniform editions could be in four volumes each:

The Time Patrol
The Guardians Of Time
The Gods Of Time
The Thieves Of Time
The Shield Of Time

The King Of Ys
Roma Mater
The Dog And The Wolf 

In the Time Patrol series:
time travelers are mistaken for gods;
gods appear in mythological passages;
the meaning of the Patrol is revealed in Volume IV;
a history like ours is preserved, with Cyrus' early life as a legend.

In The King Of Ys:
gods influence events;
Ys is destroyed in Volume IV;
our history unfolds, with Ys as a legend.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I would like to know for SURE if the sign of the Cross was indeed used by Mithraists as well as Christians. A symbolic gesture inspired by an instrument of utterly degrading agony and torment would scarcely seem likely have been used by non Christians.

    Also, recall how I commented about "Brave To Be A King" that the Mithraism we see in that story was anachronistic. That is, when I looked it up I read that historians now think Mithraism, as we know it, does not go back to Achaemenian times in Persia. Rather, it was more a Greco/Roman mystery religion.


  2. Sean,
    The cross as two intersecting lines might not be based on the cross as an instrument of execution.

    1. Kaor, Paul!

      I had not thought of that; so it is possible. But, the caveat I would make is that Mithraists using two intersecting lines as a religious symbol seems implausibly abstract.


  3. Sean,
    There are ancient symbols that are just intersecting lines like the swastika and maybe the + as opposed to the cross with the longer vertical?

    1. Kaor, Paul!

      The swastika, yes. THAT is an ancient symbol. I remember reading of how Rudyard Kipling was fond of using it, having it printed or stamped on his books before 1933 (his disgust with the Nazis caused him to stop using the swastika that year). Not sure if the "+" was ever a religious symbol, tho.