Saturday, 22 September 2012

Golden Ages

"...the Great King had given so much law to his dominions that it was said a virgin with a sack of gold could walk unmolested across all Persia." (1)

"At last a maiden could walk alone, mile after mile, without fear." (2)

Poul Anderson knew that such Golden Ages did not exist.

"Manse Everard entered Pasargadae as if into a springtime of hope." (3)

- but the author immediately adds:

"Not that any actual era lends itself to such flowery metaphors." (3)

The first quotation is set in real history and includes the important qualification, " was said..." The second does not include such a qualification but is set in the mythical history of King Hadding of Denmark. In that history, after a climactic battle and its immediate aftermath, Anderson spends more than a page describing in detail fourteen years of peace:

"For season after season, their lands lay at peace. Spring came with a shout of wind and rush of rain, sunlight smote through..." (4)

- etc. I have already commended Anderson's ability to describe the weather and the seasons as experienced by populations living closer to them than we do and this passage in Chapter XXVI of War Of The Gods is particularly idyllic.

(1) Anderson, Poul, "Brave To Be A King" IN Anderson, The Time Patrol, New York, 1991, pp. 34-68 AT p. 40.
(2) Anderson, Poul, War Of The Gods, New York, 1999, p. 218.
(3) "Brave To Be A King", p. 41.
(4) War Of The Gods, p. 217.

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