Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Lion-Headed Time

There are some very haunting passages in Poul and Karen Anderson's Gallicenae (London, 1988), Chapter IV, section 1, pp. 90-94.

We think of gods as myths. Gratillonius, closer to their source, thinks of them as becoming myths. In Chapter III, he had reflected on Ys:

"...hundreds of leagues away at the far, lonely end of Armorica, Ys Whose Gods he had in his heart forsworn and Who were fading away into myth." (pp. 87-88)

We have seen that, even while it exists, Ys is already a fable to many. Here, Gratillonius, by traveling far into the Empire, puts hundreds of leagues between himself and the city. It is at the far, lonely end of Brittany and he foresees that its deities will recede even further away, into myths. His fourth century in which gods had power and magic worked is compatible with our twentieth and twenty first centuries in which those gods are regarded as nonexistent. We can have not only multiple futures but also multiple pasts.

In Chapter IV:

"'Mithras, sentry at the frontier of the dark -'" (p. 93)

The Mithraeum is a single room in a private house, windows boarded and plastered to simulate a cave, benches along the walls leaving only a narrow aisle, no font or image of lion-headed Time, just a basin for holy water. (Hindus have a lion-man incarnation and one Christian writer imagined the leonine Aslan who claims to have swallowed universes.)

Gratillonius assesses the Gods Who are known to him -

(i) "The Gods of Achilles, Aeneas, Vercingetorix were dead: phantoms at most, haunting glens and graveyards and the dusty pages of books." (p. 94)

Again, it is not that these deities never existed. They lived and died, becoming ghosts, haunting not only glens and graveyards (of course) but also books (!) - old and dusty books.

(ii) "The gods of Ys were inhuman." (ibid.)

We have seen that this was so.

(iii) "Christ was a pallid stranger." (ibid.)

Jesus the man would have been dark-skinned but Gratillonius refers to the deity presented by what had become the Roman religion, with the White Christ replacing Jupiter-Zeus.

(iv) "Mithras alone stood fast..." (ibid.)

- for the time being.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I disagree with those who say Christ was a "pallid stranger." Anyone who has read the four Gospels would have to see He was anything but pallid!