Friday, 14 August 2015

Ancient Persia

Ancient Persia was another world but not beyond Poul Anderson's power to take us there.

"...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." (Time Patrol, p. 65)

"Cilicia would yield without a fight, seeing that Persia's other conquests were governed with a humanity and a tolerance of local customs such as the world had not known before." (p. 66)

"Manse Everard entered Pasargadae as if into a springtime of hope." (p. 67)

"'Alms, Lord. Alms, for the love of Light! Alms, and Mithras will smile upon you!...'" (ibid.)

"...a long hall where vigorous murals showed the Sun and the Bull of Mithras..." (p. 70)

"Harpagus drew the sign of the cross, which was a Mithraic sun-symbol." (p. 77)

(Something seems familiar but is not.)

"Overhead he saw a painted roof, where a youth killed a bull, and the Bull was the Sun and the Man." (p. 92)

"Beyond the city walls lay harvest fields where peasants readied sacrifice to an Earth Mother who was old in this land when the Aryans came, and that was in a dark predawn past. High over the walls floated the mountains, haunted by wolf, lion, boar, and demon. It was too alien a place." (ibid.)


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I did a bit of checking up on Mithraism and I have to regretfully say Poul Anderson seems to have erred in showing Mithraism as well developed as we see it in "Brave To Be A King." Most of what we know about Mithraism has its origins in the Roman Empire with very little actually dating back to Cyrus the Great's time. I fear Poul Anderson accepted an older view of Mithraism which erroneously backdated its beliefs and rituals to Achaemenian times.


Paul Shackley said...

Thank you for research. Retroactively, we can regard this as another difference between our timeline and the Danellian/Time Patrol timeline. They have a real Sherlock Holmes and a Mithraism that developed earlier. New historical discoveries may show other differences. This is similar to earlier sf writers assuming a habitable Mars.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Now, why didn't I think of that ingenious way of reconciling the differences we see in how Poul Anderson and somehat later scholars depicted Mithraism? WE belong to an alternate timeline different from that of the Time Patrol/Danellians. An amusing thought! (Smiles)

And, yes, as knowledge of Mars increased, SF writers had to take that into account as they wrote about adventures set on the Red Planet.