Tuesday, 11 July 2017

"Before The Gods That Made The Gods"

"Before the gods that made the gods" is a line in a poem by GK Chesterton. See here. It is also the title of Part Three of Poul Anderson's The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991). Part Three is set in the Time Patrol Academy in 31,275,389 BC. Thus, the title conveys the idea of a beginning before our earliest beginning - a very long time ago.

SM Stirling's King Bjarni Ironrede describes the Native Americans as:

"'...the First People who came here when the Ice withdrew and worshipped the Gods before the Gods.'"
-SM Stirling, The King Of Montival (New York, 2009), Chapter Nine, p. 166.

The Shield Of Time, Part Four, "Beringia," shows the ancestors of the Native Americans crossing Beringia from Asia into North America.

After being proclaimed king, Bjarni spends a night on the roof of his father's howe where he dreams conversations with the dead. Poul Anderson's characters converse with their dead here.

Bjarni says:

"'...the lord and the land and the folk are one.'" (Chapter Eight, p. 162) -

- and symbolizes this by wearing a belt that resembles the world-encircling serpent. Thus, Bjarni's waist is the equator!

In George R Stewart's post-apocalypse novel, Earth Abides, an imaginative child says that coins show the faces of the gods before our gods. He explains that our gods made the buildings, roads and bridges whereas the gods before them made the sun, sky and sea...


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

VERY cool, how you showed that both PA and Stirling were fans of GK Chesterton, with these allusions to his "Ballad Of The White Horse." Of course fans of Anderson should know he too was a fan of GKC (see what a Chinese character said about Chesterton in Anderson's THE BYWORLDER).

And, of course, the ironic thing about the "First People" who came to the Americas as the Ice withdrew is that they were NOT the first humans to live there. As we see in "Beringia," archaic Caucasians already dwelt in the Americas, albeit at so primitive a level that they had barely achieved he beginnings of Old Stone Age technology. And as Anderson sternly and relentlessly shows us, the proto-Indians treatment of the archaic Causcasians was as bad as anything the much later Europeans did.


S.M. Stirling said...

Tho' the "Tulat" are excessively primitive scavengers. Even Neanderthals used hafted weapons; in fact, they were top predators who ate nothing but big grazing animals, according to the isotope ratio analysis of their bones. No actual h. sapiens were ever as primitive as the Tulat in that story.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

Exaclty! You brought out more clearly what I was trying to say. But, I thought Poul Anderson believed people like the Tulat of "Beringia" actually existed? That some evidence HAD been found of human beings living in the Americas before the proto-Indians arrived.


Anonymous said...

Kaor, Sean!

I believe that evidence has been found of human wings in the Americas enforce the Proto-Indians arrived, but that there are disputes about the dating of finds, and perhaps other issues. I don't know juswhat Poul Anderson imself believed, but I take his Tulat as a reconstruction of what may perhaps have been, not an authoritative pronouncement on what real Paleo-Americans were like.

Best Regards,
Nicholas D. Rosen

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Nicholas!

Thanks for contributing one of your too few comments!

I think you meant to say "I believe that evidence has been found of human BEINGS in the Americas BEFORE the Proto-Indians arrived,..." And you are probably right about what PA may have thought, that the Tulat of "Beringia" was a SPECULATION on his part.

I did mention the Tulat in one of my letters to PA and, if I recall his response correctly, he did not disbelieve that human beings were already living in the Americas before the so-called "First People" arrived.

Regards! Sean