Re: the Monomyth; Dara Happan dating

From: Nick Brooke (
Date: Tue 23 Dec 1997 - 22:44:50 EET

David Dunham wrote (recently, but many Dailies ago :-)

> I had a chance to read the Glorantha-Con V draft of Belintar's
> Book, and I'd say the Monomyth is alive and well. One difference
> is that now it's being worked on from the bottom up. In other
> words, we have access to some of the original myths that were
> synthesized into the Monomyth summarized in RQ2 and RQ3 products.

This is good news. I mentioned in my review of "King of Sartar"
(cf. Tales #9) that the "Orlanthi Mythology" section...

: just that: not the sanitised, homogenised tales distor-
: ted by the Jrusteli God Learbers which until now we have been
: accustomed to, but the original stories as told by the Orlanthi
: themselves. It's quite a change: for example, Umath's Camp atop
: his Law Rock replaces the Perfect Palace on the Spike. At times
: the 'barbarian' elements make them hard going: genealogies and
: references to local landmarks are scattered through the myths,
: but they only add to the feel of authenticity this source is
: meant to purvey.

I feel the Dara Happan Mythology of GRAY is another slice of the
same mythic reality -- an examination, not of what "outsiders"
think are key myths of the Sun God, but of those stories the Dara
Happans themselves tell about their gods and mythic history. And,
of course, foreign deities intrude (disastrously at times) into
their narrative, as we always expected them to. Shargash fights
Umatam and Elemalus, Yelm is slain by the actions of Oralanatus:
what in this that denies the Monomyth?

Dara Happan Dating

Anyone hung up on the "Dara Happan hundred-thousand year history"
should read the justification by its inventor. Essentially, *one*
ancient Dara Happan poem includes *two* references to time:

: Our oldest poem, written only a few years after the rise of
: Antirius, says that Yelm had ruled "for 100,000 years." That
: poet was young enough to recognise and remember this fact,
: which he generously provided to us. Furthermore, he says later
: that the "Star-time is gone now. One thousand years of dark-
: ness are done." Those two insights, from the earliest years
: of our temporal era, are the starting points of my own insights
: into ordering the realms of mythology to an understandable
: shape. Rather than explaining the process used to discover these
: facts, let me instead just thank the god Ten for his insight.
                (Glorious ReAscent of Yelm, Ivory Pages ed., p.2)

What this *means*, of course, is that the inventor of Dara Happan

1) Obtained all of his evidence about "pre-temporal" dates from
   a single, poetic source, written within the last couple of

2) Recognised that a poem written "a few years after the rise of
   Antirius" (i.e. shortly after 122 ST) was "from the earliest
   years of our own temporal era" -- and he cannot have meant
   the Age of Antirius (100 years, 122-221 ST) by this, since
   the solar age when he wrote was the Age of Yelm: 1,000 years
   commencing in 222 ST. So what did he mean? 122 ST is one of
   the "earliest years" of orthodox Gloranthan Time (i.e. that
   Time which starts at the Dawning). It's also soon after the
   'pivotal' Anarchy Year, 111 ST, when it appears something
   dramatic happened in the heavens ("the realms of Day and Night
   switched places", GRAY p.42) -- not that "day" and "night"
   started to happen, but that *something* changed: "Antirius"
   shone more brightly than "Kargzant" (or "Lightfore")...?
   But why would any non-Solar people care about this? As far
   as they were concerned, the rise of "Kargzant" in the year
   dot was the Return of Yelm from Hell -- only the Dara Happans,
   still enslaved by evil horse nomad rulers, knew that this
   *couldn't* be the return of their divine sun-emperor (else
   why were they still stuffed). They had to hold on and wait
   for the eventual Glorious ReAscent -- and it came, in time.

3) Used his "insight", and a numerical system based on the number
   ten, to create the rest of his "dates" for mythological events.
   For those not aware: Dara Happan dates consist of a succession
   of Eras, most with a presiding god. The first Era is timeless;
   the second is 100,000 years of Yelm, followed by 10,000 years
   of Antirius, 1000 years of Shargash (ending at the Dawn, 1 ST),
   100 years of Kargzant, 10 years of "Last Evil", 1 year of
   "Anarchy" (111 ST, or 111,111 YS), and then expanding once
   more: 10 years of Avivath, 100 of Antirius Returned, and a
   presumptive 1000 years of Yelm (hailed, as ever, at the start
   of the Thousand Year Rule). We can but hope that the Era of
   Rufelza will last out the next 10,000 years... :-)

And yet... and yet... to convert any Dara Happan date into the
familiar Solar Time (Solara Tempora) used by all other RuneQuest
sources, all you need to do is knock 111,000 from the YS date.
The Dara Happans say the Red Moon rose in 112,220? That's 1220 ST
to us. The two systems are so damn' compatible, one looks like a
gloss on the other. And given the obviously "derivative" nature
of the Dara Happan dating, I'd say the "God Learner cum Orlanthi"
calendar that commences in 1 ST is still undoubtedly the best to
employ for any normal purpose. For a start, the numbers are much
shorter: 1621 ST takes less time to write than 112,621 YS. And
for seconds, the "advantage" of having a Yelmic mythological
framework is completely illusory, as *no* other system of myths
has adopted the same Plentonic timeline. If you want to make the
Yelmic myths align with anyone else's, you have to do all the
work yourself, and quite simply I can't see why anyone should

We've always known that humans have trouble comprehending Godtime:

: The difficulties in our understanding that age are illustrated
: by words with which we describe that mythical state -- Dreamtime,
: Gods' Age, Golden Eon, Non-time, and so on. Each word contains
: some measurement of Time within it, thus clearly showing mental
: anguish at reconciling their differences." (Cults of Prax, p.3)

Against this background, it's far from surprising that the Dara
Happan poet, writing *within* Time, should use "a hundred thousand
years" to mean "Yelm reigned an awfully long 'time'"... and, given
what we know about the Dara Happans, equally unsurprising that a
dullard mythographer should pick up this throwaway mention (which
may only have been included because it fit the metre of the poem
in question!) and turned it into the basis of a cosmic ordering
of everything. Absolutely typical!

Now, if you *really* want to junk all pre-existing Monomythic
sources because of this farrago of scholarship, there must be
something wrong with your critical faculties. In which case,
would you like to buy this rather large crateload of Falangian
Diamonds that my brother-in-law recently shipped from Mount Nida?



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