Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Piracy And Barbarism

Theseus replies to Duncan Reid:

"'Piracy' is what the Minos says it is. Why should our young men not be let blood themselves, and win their fortunes off a Levantine tin ship or a Hittite town? Because it would inconvenience the Cretans in their trade relationships with those places, that's why.'"
-Poul Anderson, The Dancer From Atlantis, CHAPTER NINE, p. 75.

Piracy is exactly what that is. The Cretans have every right to protect their trade relationships by preventing the plundering of tin ships and towns. Anderson's historical fiction covers periods when it was still considered acceptable for one realm to maintain its own dynamism, "...blood themselves...," by attacking others.

More importantly, the Minos keeps the Achaeans divided and weak. They have every right to try to unite.

Theseus argues:

"'Northward and eastward, in the mountains, are the real barbarians. They prowl the marches like wolves. If we Achaeans cannot be brought together, in the end we'll be invaded and overrun. What then of  'preserving civilization,' when the scrolls burn with the cities?'" (ibid.)

We remember:

barbarian species armed with atomic weapons and the hyperdrive prowling the marches of the Terran Empire;

Dominic Flandry anticipating the burning of books (here);

later Andersonian future histories in which interstellar imperialism is not an issue but other conflicts arise.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And Theseus was wrong, what he wanted was exactly what the Cretans called it, piracy. And I would have done exactly what the Minos did, protect my trading relationships and allies. AND make the Achaean states my vassals, if that was the only way to restrain their piracy. Note the Cretan policy of having young Achaeans from powerful families educated in Crete, with the idea of sending them back home to become leaders with pro Cretan views.

As for the real barbarians outside Achaean territory proper, Theseus might have reflected that one way of holding them off would be by having good relations with Crete. The Minos might even have sent the Achaeans military help.