Death and the Hero

From: Nick Brooke (
Date: Thu 04 May 1995 - 11:02:54 EEST

Peter writes:

> I understand that in the Real World, historically, cities were such
> filthly cesspools that they required a constant intake of immigrants
> from the countryside until the middle of the 19th Century(?)

Good old Sallust said that the worst elements of the rural populace flocked to Rome like cess to a sewer, so there must be something in this.

> I think to even pass onto the Hero plane, one has to confront their
> own death (cf the Beserkergang path in ToTRM#7).

Indeed, it could plausibly be argued that to become an initiate one must confront one's own death. Or at least, one's mortality. Is it "more heroic" to do this on the mythic plane than in ritual or in mundane life? I think not: that seems to downplay the experience of most folk, which I'm always againts. The very good point Harald makes is that becoming a Hero requires transformative stress: you can't just rise to the top and remain unchanged.

> I have a bias against best friends, sidekicks, catamites and what-have-
> you of ever having the inititive to become a hero.

Gunda's early transformative heroic actions were carried out in Zoria, years before she met Harrek. And Aelwrin led armies against the Lunar Empire and seduced Jar-eel *before* he became her "best friend". I don't think Peter is right to downplay the importance of these heroic figures, merely because they are companions of Superheroes. They are bona fide heroes in their own right.

> The God Learner Doom is said to have been marked by no great hero conflicts.

Anywhere. Not just in the West.

> Held out? It was conquered twice by the nomads and the Sylilings had to
> send in fleets to kick the barbarians out.

Ah, but the impregnable Citadel of Alkoth surely never fell. That would be... well... *unmythical*, dammit! They'd never live it down.


> As for the monotheist West, howzabout Xemela? She's a healing
> saint (the main one), and is female as they come. Also the
> Brithini at one time were believed to have all their females
> belong to a single caste (can't recall her name), and she was
> thought to be rather earth-like. Nick?

Menena. And the Brithini -- or their polytheist Seshnegi descendents, at least - -- have at times thought they were descended from father Malkion (a deity of Wind and Water) and mother Britha (an Earth goddess). But Britha isn't necessarily a Saint, any more than Britannia is.

From a very old Greggly manuscript about Hrestol (older than me!):

: ...his unblinking eyes did not see the pictures of the wives
: of Malkion with their childred; he did not see Phlia with her
: three eldest sons, Talar the King, Zabur the Wise, and Holar
: the Warrior, as they received the gifts of Power from their
: father; nor did Prince Hrestol see the green-skinned Waertag
: who sailed upon the seas guided by his mother Jelela the Sea
: Goddess; nor did the prince see the dark-skinned Dromal receive
: the holy Plow from his father, while behind him the fair and
: beautiful Kala smiled; nor did the prince see the blue-skinned
: daughter of Malkion, Menena, receive the first fire from Eurmal
: then present it to the King Talar; nor did he see the scenes of
: mighty battle between the gods of the sea and the gods of the
: air during the Great War of the Gods; nor did he see the birth
: of that god, Malkion, who was born of the sea-goddess Warera
: and begat by the air-god Aerlit...

My favourite detail from this is that the three Castes of Power (lords, wizards, knights) are thought in Seshneg to have a different mother than the dark-skinned local peasantry. A great boon to my Exodus theories, as you see. The rest I can take or leave, esp. skin colours...

Elsewhere, Phlia is shown as a daughter of Uleria; Kala is said to be an Earth goddess.

Xemela is more associated with Darkness than with Earth. Either (rationalist) she takes a plague on herself so it will spare her people; or else (theist) she marries the King of Night so he will spare her people. Which is why Malkioni nuns wear black?


> the 'Harrek the Lucid Dreamer' hypothesis ... accounts for his
> awesome spiritual power right after his return from the Lunar
> dart competitions.

Ah. And for his awesome spiritual power *during* them: he did kill the Red Emperor, you know. Not easily done... MOB and I know who put him up to it, and if we've finished our stories by RQCon Down Under the next Yolanelathon will be a test of *everyone's* endurance. (It always stressed the audience, but now the poor readers will be flagging, too).


> Talars = Fire/Light
> Zzaburi = Water
> Horali = Storm
> Farmers = Earth
> Women = Darkness

> The Talars, Horal and Farmers seem pretty clear, but I'm not so sure
> about the other two.

Water represents change, currents, everything emerging from a Universal Source to which it must in the end return. Good Stoic doctrine, for Paul Reilly's philosophical wizards.

Darkness and women, discussed above.



I usually assume Vogarth the Strong Man was an Esrolite mens' hero. Good at picking things up, building things, carrying things around. *NOT* a fighter (at least, not in approved stories). Orlanthi have enough Heroes of their own: they don't need to steal more from the Esrolites.

Wot, no Lunars? Must be my Dark Phase.

All Hail the Reaching Moon!


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