Monday, 3 October 2016
Kashtiliash And Brann
And we are shown some ancient rulers who have the resilience to cope with the unprecedented and the incomprehensible. The Hittite King stands his ground when a dirigible passes above his city and he is addressed through a loudspeaker. We must hope that the President of the United States will do this if he is addressed from a descending interstellar vehicle.
King Kashtiliash of Babylon acknowledges that:
the Nantucketers can cure many illnesses;
none of them is hungry;
even their peasants live like nobles;
they have arts that make his people's seem like fumbling;
they can destroy proud cities like reed huts.
(That is us that he is talking about.) How does Kashtiliash respond to the Nantucketers' superiority?
"'I swear by my father, and by the gods of the land, that I will not leave my kingdom and people poor and ignorant and powerless, not while there is strength in my hands.'"
-SM Stirling, Against The Tide Of Years (New York, 1999), Chapter Twenty-Four, p. 412.
His concern is for his people, not for his own power. He might remind Poul Anderson fans of Brann the Ranger who, when warned of an attack on his city, says:
"'Oh, no...The final thrust. Firebolts loosed on my people.'"
-Poul Anderson, The Corridors Of Time (London, 1969), Chapter Fifteen, p. 149.