I wish you all the best for the year MMVII!
Let us work harder to recreate lost worlds and to help this one to be found, and make it so Humanity is, then, and now, our priority (though the rest of living beings will certainly appreciate some efforts, right?)
Blessed be all in 2007! KALLISTI!
- (re)searching for information about aboriginal African cultures
- reading La Ŝtona Urbo
The first one comes from my desire to project current Africa abhominable situation in all economical, medical and cultural fronts, I'm absolutely horrified and I wish to make my bit from my poor, dried ingenuity to help raise awareness in the "First World". Thus, I'd like to write a HF novel set in an ancient, African culture (not Egyptian and not Phoenician), preferrably before Christianism and Islam, but I am open --at least at the moment-- for later times (pre-colonial times, though). I'll thank help from my readers!
The second one is a HF novel written by English-born, Belgian writer Anna Löwenstein, The City of Stone. Why the funny title, then? Simple: it's written in Esperanto. She wrote the original manuscript in English, and translated the novel to E-o herself. Last Friday, December 15th was the Zamenhofa Tago, the Day of Zamenhof, creator of Esperanto, and good excuse to get together, have a great meal with friends and new friends and have a wonderful time, which we did this Saturday... After the meal in Madrid, we moved to a bookstore with is a kind of de facto Esperanto broadcast center (it's where a friend of mine regularly gives Esperanto courses) and over there, besides watching Gerda malaperis, a Brazilian movie adapting Claude Piron's book of the same title, we could peruse and buy book about and in Esperanto from the friends at the different E-o organizations that attended (we were over 30 people, which is about twice last year's meal, and who knows next year? :-)
Thus, I got the book, in Esperanto. Great novel (so I'm told) and a great way to practice the language. The book tells the story of a Celtic woman (from Britannia) who gets enslaved and goes to Rome in Nero's time, dealing with Celtic, Roman and early Christianism... I'm moving ahead pretty slowly at the moment, but I expect to get a good pace soon; I'll let you know.
And that's the state of things in this last weeks of this year... Let's see how things end and may 2007 bring us all closer to our dreams!
PS- Esperanto resources: Lernu! and World Esperanto Association
It was really hard, work kicked in really hard the last 2 weeks, and I am literally exhausted.
But I did it.
Revolt! has finished Part Two (the Antithesis) and it's right in the start of Part Three (Synthesis). The last (long, over 11,000 words!) chapter of Part Two, with the clymax of the Battle of Lade was particularly cool to write, I tried to follow my own advice and instinct and wrote the whole battle from a single point of view: it's less descriptive but way more intense and vivid, I really like it.
I'll keep writing this novel down to the end, I am enjoying the characters and the overall story too much to stop now!
Keep tuned for more news about it, in the mean time, please bear with me when I add this icon for History... ;-)
Been working around the clock all the weekend and I'm some thousand words behind my wordcount. I'll try to recover, if my headaches allow my writing...
So far, I'm writing the Yaunâ track again (2 of 3) where Aristagoras runs away, Histiaeus arrives to bribe the Persians into a 'civil war', so to say, and the remaining Yaunâ cities join forces to stop the Persian advance on Miletos, which will conduct to the Battle of Leda, and the end of the Antithesis (the second part of the novel, the first part was the Hypothesis), which will nicely lead to the Synthesis until we arrive, yet again, to Marathon.
Will I get the mark for Nanowrimo? I dunno. I will surely do my best, despite de heavy workload I am currently having (to be true, I'm exhausted, but that won't stop me, only time will). And what next? Well, I will finish the novel draft, that's for sure, I'm enjoying it too much to stop now!
And that's all! Back to writing...
For those of you, my few, precious readers, that celebrate Thanksgiving in USA, a big goodwilling, and to the rest of the world, celebrate life as well, even if you are nanowriting!
At 27 Kwords, I'm about to write the Battle of Ephessus, where the Persians manage to deal a defeat to the Yaunâ that attacked Sardes (Athenian, Eretrian and Ionian hoplites). That will be the big event of ION E. With each ION about 8-9 Kwords (except ION D, which is only 3,500 words at the moment, as I got fed up with writing Greek politics :-P) I'd say I'm aiming at some 80-90 Kwords, not really a lot, but enough for a first draft. There are lots of things that I know I'll need to address, and considering how I'm enjoying the characters so far, I'll have to work on their 'normal' lives a bit more to help adjust the chapters' rythm and give this story the depth it deserves as well as its width...
I'll let you know how I'm going... KALLISTI!
I'd have loved to add some more words during this weekend, but time is a luxury one rarely can enjoy... Oh, well, anyway...
I have added to the sidebar a Nano counter, which I try to update daily with my progress, it comes handy and it will let you know how things go without my posting to tell you.
As for the novel, the Milesian and Persian fleet is approaching Naxos to recover the island, put the old tirants back into power, and so... It will go wrong (not that I'm stripping anything, anyway ;-) and this will get the ball rolling...
As for the characters, I have found wonderful names for all of them so far, and I'm chirpingly happy! :-)
The main character, and the one the novel will be following almost constantly is a well positioned Pasargadae/Mardian prince called Azanes, and the secondary characters/narrator voices are his younger brother, Bassaces, and a somewhat fat Milesian landowner, shipbuilder, called Diorodos, son of Filippos. The main character's father name, so far, has been 'Father', because they are such respectful sons... :-)
I have names for all the characters as well (wives, sons and daughters, soldiers, ...), at least until I have to write the Yaunâ part of initiating the revolt, where/when I will need some Yaunâ names as well (Council members, etc...).
I haven't commented it yet, so I will now: I like this novel, I am enjoying it a great deal, and I am really liking the characters the way they are being born on the lines... Let's see if I managed to get it right this time!
And that's all, not bad for a new year's post, uh? Have a happy Nano and good luck to everybody!
What? You ask if I am nervous?
Why would I?
I mean, do I look nervous?
I thought so.
Because . . . Well, just because my main character (MC) doesn't yet have a name? Because his younger brother, which is the initiator (narrator character that starts and ends the whole thing) doesn't yet have a name, either? Because their father doesn't yet have a name? Because the MC's wife and sons don't yet have a name, either?
Details, details . . .
Argh! This is frustrating. I have some tons of nice, real, Persian names, and none of them is fit! Either they are too similar to the ones of the historical figures (and I already have a repetition!) or they are fairly hard to read.
Bummer. In my LJ you can find a chain of letters between me and my characters (in Spanish, sorry) where they, simply, declare themselves in silent strike (hehe).
Hehe. Like I'm gonna let 'em do this to me . . . Hail, Eris, hail! I will crush them into tiny bits of pieces of minuscule particles! Disintegration!
Sigh . . . If it only were as easy.
Anyway. I'm ready, name or not, to write. No, slash that: I am eager to start writing!
Good luck to all Nanoers this year, and Blessed Samhain to all wiccans and heathens out there that Celebrate!
What I have gathered from him and other sources, for the time being, is that, as Pierre suggested--and until I can read Briant's book to get a more Persian POV--, the Ionian state-cities were indeed very powerful by themselves, probably more powerful than the Western Hellás cities (not in Italy and Sicily, I mean the Continental, Balkanic cities).
Authors suggest that Ionians were less powerful than mainstream, Hellenic cities like Athens, Corinths, Megara... because they didn't have so many colonies, which indicates a lower growth rate.
But the truth is that most Ionian--and Cycladic--cities enjoyed better fields and crops, most of them grown on aluvial planes of the water rich Ionian rivers, which dragged lots of minerals from the mountains after defrost and rains, and could sustain bigger populations before engaging the colonization resource to keep the population under control. We then have a handful of cities (traditionally around 12, but it fluctuates with time) in the Asia Minor coast, and then several important islands (the most prominent were, probably, Naxos and Chios, although Samos , Lemnos and Lesbos were very important as well) with big cities, large forests and important naval power.
Bigger population means bigger hoplite-class citizens, which means they could field larger armies if need arouse. The fact that Athens, as metropolis of Miletos, was able to send 20 trirremes, which was half her navy at the moment--they were about to have trouble with Egina, and decided it was wise to keep something for themselves--, is very significative. Athens only managed her huge navy the next decade after getting hold of important silver mines which were put to massive ship construction by the leading democratic party of the moment. Eretria--not exactly a big state-city, it's truth--could just send in five ships. That was probably a big war effort from the most impotant Euboean city.
As a comparison, just four years later, Chios sent 100 trirremes to the Battle of Lade, and they probably had several more to defend the town while the fleet was out. Each ship was sent with a compliment of 40 hoplites (or epibatai, which are a kind of Marines which could work both at naval battles or to form a phalanx on the ground) instead of the usual 10 in later, Delian League times. Samos sent 60 trirremes, Mytilene sent 70, and gave 8 more to Histriaios, Aristagoras's father, who became a Hellespont pirate.
The total war navy the Ionians could gather to the battle of Lade--which is, by necessity, lower than the total available at the moment, and the quid is in assessing how much smaller than the full navy it was--was composed of 353 trirremes, full of fighters.
An equivalent fleet gathered at the time in the Continent would have seen Athens 40 ships, Eritrea 5-10, Corinth probably was the most powerful navy at the time (let's suppose double the Athenian, 80), and not many more cities would have had big navies, their war bussinesses mostly conducted by land troops...
So the Ionians were powerful, prosperous, and conducted their bussiness with success, even under Persian rule, until they lost access to the enporion in Naukratis, after Great King Cambyses II took over Egypt ca. 525-4. The decreased revenue from such an important market must have been a strong blow to the Ionian cities, and it may have threatened their ability to keep their high life-style and paying their taxes to the satraps.
My thinking goes in the following direction: while the cities in the Panionion (the Dodekapolis) were able to get together a big hoplite army, they weren't as motivated to do so until the Athenians arrived in Ephesos. After the sack of Sardes, and the Battle of Ephesos, the Ionian, Karian, etc cities were pretty busy defending themselves from the Persian army which was striking the rebel cities in many simultaneous fronts, and the possibility of a big, grand, final land battle was denied because they could not move their land armies to get together. Therefore a naval battle was proposed, which the Persians, probably led by Prince Datis (of Marathon fame) after recovering the insurrect territories on Chiprus and Karia, didn't fail to accept.
What's for sure is that they were able to put up a good fight, and that's probably why the Great King Darius the Great decided to create a "buffer zone" between the Western and Eastern yaunâ, a sent Datis and Artaphrenes Jr. to take over the Cyclades and Euboea. i think Marathon was just a 'plan B' to get Hyspias back into the power in Athens, but that it was far from being the main goal of the expedition.
But we will discuss that later on... :)
As Samhain approaches, and the weather is foul, Nanowrimo is closer and I am eager to start writing (even when I haven't yet been able to find suitable names for my Persian main characters!). With the Sun and the leaves Fall, we will enter into a darker period, the Season of the Chrone, a time of inner reflection, deep mysteries, magic and shadows, ideal for staying home writing... :-)
Now let's get down to bussiness: Some months ago, Kristopher Reisz gave us the good news, he had found an editor for his novel, Tripping to Somewhere!
About a month ago, Kris started an experiment: he would hand free copies of his book to some readers, provided they posted a revision of the book on their blogs. I offered myself for such an experiment, and here's the result:
Kris sent me a wonderfully signed copy of his book, a kind-of pocket-book edition, nicely bounded, and with a cover price which is way lower than its true value, and also way smaller than the s&h fares, I must say.
The cover of the book is pretty, in a weird sense of prettiness, and it's easy to spot within other books on a store. The craftmanship of the book is correct and it has dealt--after some 5,000 miles of flight--with handdling on commuter trains, subway, bus, walking and what-nots with fortitude and stoic elegance. The pages look clean and ample--not crampled like some other books you get out there-- and the fonts are easy going and, in some cases, right to the point as well.
That's for the physical book. Let's go to the entity.
Tripping to Somewhere is a strange book, a kind of Hero's Journey in several levels, which goes to nowere easily discernible, a tripping, indeed, of some adolescent girls. However there's method in the middle of this crazyness, and there's a definite goal in the middle of the confused minds and lives of the girls. Several monomyths, each with its own purpose, in a book where no character could be erased without affecting the story, maybe in a dramatic way.
I must say I have enjoyed this book a lot, way more than I even thought I would enjoy a fantasy book. Kris is a really skillful writer, and the reading flows easily and mesmerizingly from the book pages. Each chapter irremediably leads you to the next one, it was hard to close the book to go to sleep.
It was weird, the deeper I read it, the most I thought 'this would be a really great movie'! For the legions of those who don't read, at least it would be a poor substitute. But if you can read, then don't be fooled. The whole concept of the plot, flow of the story, the characterization of main and secondary characters, the way of cycloning them into the plot... Great rythm and powerful images!
The characters' language is... colorful, but the narration is very cult and correct; Kris manages to build the sentences and paragraphs so to look as natural as single words. I must say I am envious, I wish I was half as good in writing!
The subject is a bit alien to me, urban fantasy, when I am a historical fiction bunny. However the magic helped. The magic that got off the book, not inside the pages. That I am wiccan is certainly secondary. I felt some Neil Gaiman, some Silverberg, going on... Gotta be good!
The veredict? Go. Get. It. Now!
Thanks for the great gift, Kris!
You've won a fan in Spain!
From Artaphrenes, to Dârayavahu, Great King, King of Kings, King of Many Lands and their People, Blessed of Ahura Mazda, Atar's Sacred Arm, Protector of the Earth and Water,
Dear brother, may the Lord bless you and our family for many years.
I write you to let you know of matters of utmost importance.
The Yaunâ cities are in revolt. After sending along men and ships to help the Yaunâ Aristagoras, of Miletos, he failed to use them to pay retribution to the islanders of Naxos, and failing to pay the fine we had agreed, has converted Miletos into a `demêkratos' and is raising the other Yaunâ cities to revolt.
I am told that the mainland, mother Yaunâ cities, Athênê and Lakedaemonê among others, are considering sending troops and ships to assist their Yaunâ people on our territory. We are preparing for war. At this very moment my spies are reporting the uprising of an army in Naxos, Samos, Lesbos, Éphesos, Colophon, Mitylene, and other important, coastal cities. I am dispatching the army to siege Miletos; I think that if we cut the head of the adeva its many paws will follow suit.
I have been informed that Histiaeos, Aristagoras's father, who's serving you in your Court, may be aiding them from within. I beg you to keep an eye on his activities, in order to avoid a treason from our deepest core.
The situation is grave, for the revolt could spread beyond Yaunâ into all the coastal cities to the South, in Karda, and to the North, in Tyaiy Drayahya and even accross the Troada, to Skudra. However, I hope to be able to stop it by taking Miletos. I'll keep you appraised.
Be well, my brother, and may Ahura Madza bless you and all our family.
Your loyal servant, satrap of Skarda.
Yes, NaNoWriMo strikes again. Instead of trying to strech Damned Linneage or The Libyan for 50 more Kwords, I've been bitten by the plot-zombie-bunnies. Thus, I'll keep writing (if I manage!) "Inaros" until November, and then jump head first into the "Ionian Revolt".
Besides being the spearhead of the most important series of events for the Ancient World in Western Eurasia--it ended with Aléxandros, and, ultimately, with the fall of the Oikoumene under the hands of Romans, Seleucids and Parthians--, it became the cornerstone of relationships between Near East and Far West (in the Ancient conception, of course) for many years to come.
The starting point, however--and paradoxically--will be, of course, the Battle of Marathon, which I hold dear to my heart because it's my 2004 NanoBits short tale (a failed project, but a nice tale nevertheless) which I wrote in English and which, after some revisions, I will try to market in the Saxon circles of the Historical Fiction Society or any other related magazines. I'll appreciate comments and corrections from my dear readers when time comes, thanks!
However, Marathon, and the end poitn of the First Assault, will be the conecting point from where everything will nicely pivot in the novel. As I want to win this year (last year victory was sweet :-) I'll have a great time and will be letting you know promptly of progresses and seeking advice . . . :-P
And that's the (disastrous) state of things around here: bitten by a zombie plotbunny, poisoned by Nano's sweet scent, I resemble noble, clever Oddysseos at the land of the Lotophagi. Let's go through the stormy seas and--after the Revolt--return safely to the coasts of Íthaka, and the pacification of Mudraya and Putaya, I mean, Egypt and Libya.
But first, let's pacify the Yaunâ!
What had Alexander the Great (or Magnus, as it has derived in Romance languages from Latin; known as Iskander to the Persians) that still mesmerizes us, in the XXI Century?
What could a youngster Makedonian king, son of a Warrior king, of the IV BCE Century, 24 and a half centuries ago!, have made that we wouldn't be able to do today? And faster, and better, and more reliable, and reproductible?
Well, he lifted the bar so high that it's still well over our heads as persons. Not just he, but his army, his generals... He did what basically nobody had done before, and what only a handful did after him. Of the things he achieved, we can probably find only a comparable feat in history, and it was almost 18 centuries later: Chinghis Khan (or Genghis Khan, as you wish). They (he and his army) did something some of us probably can only dream of: walked some 15,000 miles around a quarter of Eurasia. That's a feat in and on itself (not speaking of all the fighting, digging, sieging, killing, destroying, dieing, suffering, enjoying, etc that they did in the meantime). From Greece to Asia Minor, then Syria and Palestine, Egypt, back to Syria, Armenia, Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq), Media, Persia (modern day Iran), and then all the way to the Indo through and around the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and back, with visits to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and who knows where else? You can nowadays find cities and remnants of cities named Alexandria in the most unsuspecting places. I'd bet there are still places where he set a colony of veterans, or whatever, that nowadays still speak in Greek (or a pidgin) in the most unexpected places (it happened in Italy, there are still some ancient Greek colonies in the Magna Graecia that speak Greek, in the XXI Century, after the Roman Empire and all what happened there aferwards!).
I have read several novels about him, many I have forgot. Of the "modern" ones, Valerio Massimo Manfredi's trilogy was entertaining and good enough; Nicolas Nicastro's Empire of Ashes was a different take on it, indeed. He's a very good writer, and I enjoyed it a good deal. I surely read others, but I don't recall them (I have Mary Renault's home, I'll eventually read it).
This time, after Scott Oden's truly excellent Memnon, I was ready to tackle Stephen Pressfield's Alexander. The veredict? Maybe not as good as Gates of Fire (it depends on many things, you know), but very, very good. He shows a mastery of narrative and research that goes beyond my ability to praise. His ways of telling, showing, exposing, are impressive. His battle of Issos is really cool; and what to say about his Gaugamela? Speechless, breathless... I'll get, when it's out in Spain (English or Spanish, I don't care), his Afghani Campaign (title not really that one, surely), because I've been left with wanting more, and more, and more...
And now? I should be writing, but I got a good cold and writing is hard, when I am starting to get into the writing session, the train is arriving to my destination, argh! therefore I'll enjoy some more reading. And wanting more, I'll finally go to Gisbert Haefs's Alexander. He's one of my favourite writers, and I am sure to be inmersed into a huge adventure. I know, it's Alexander.
In the meantime, I have finished David Anthony Durham's Hannibal. Pride of Carthage, which I got following a positive review written by Scott Oden in his blog. Up front, I must say I have really enjoyed it. A lot.
I must also say, though, that after reading Gisbert Haef's Hannibal, I was a bit weary of reading this one. Comparisons are hateful, you know. It's, obviously, different. Pretty different, I'd say. But it's a book that can stand his own. My homonimous did a cool job in describing the character's personalities, and it took a very interesting array of POV-characters, hopping from the main characters (the Barcides, the Scipios, and so) to some interesting secondary characters that provide a very interesting perspective. I have liked his way of describing battles, from POV-characters' perspectives, and rarely resorting to the 3rd omniscient narrator, as I usually do. I enjoy displaying the whole range of tactics and the strategical development of the battles to the readers, so they can re-create it on their mind, as if they were a bird flying over the battlefield. It has a lot of advantages, and it makes writing battles easy and passionate. I usually concentrate in each section (left cavalry wing, left infantry wing, center, right infantry wing, right cavalry wing; or vice-versa) like comic-book panels, and then move time forwards and make another loop, until the battle is done. This allows me to be detailed when it's interesting, and vague when nothing interesting is happening. Sometimes I skip sections on purpose, and this lets me play around the battle, exposing it in all its glory and folly. I usually have a POV character in each of the places, that readers know because they have been introduced before, and I move from the eagle to the character so things are clear and fit nicely into the mould.
Durham, however, rarely does this. Most battles are narrated from the POV-characters, and we are informed of what's going on through their eyes and ears. Sometimes we get just one POV per battle-frame. When we get to the last character, the battle ends, from what he or she can perceive. This "stripping" of most of the steps I use to describe a battle is interesting, however, because it makes things more intimate. More . . . "flavorous". It let's you sample enough of the battle each time to make a rough draft of what's going on; you--as a reader--feel the intensity not by the information you have, but precisely by the information you are lacking. It also allows to concentrate more on the inner part of the battle, intimate views and feelings. It's weird, but I think it may make things less . . . exhaustive; more appealing.
Once I finish the novel draft, and alongside the Great Historical Revision (GHR for my friends :) I'll have to review lots of things like these: if a situation will gain value by changing a POV there, deleting this or moving it for a later time in the scene, etc... Once the draft is finished, I'll have to work to make the novel good (or at least as good as I am able to).
This writing bussiness is really complex, but oh so fun! :-)
Happy Autumn (or Fall) for everyone. KALLISTI!
The veredict? It's very good. Scott has a way of conveying the meaning and feeling of a scene that fills all your senses, you can imagine the whole, re-create it in your mind in full color, sound, smell, and timing.
He's also pretty good at feeling the characters, they look really credible and consistent, you can walk along them and they won't disappoint you, either in dialog or in thoughts or actions. Additionally his prose is rich but not pedant (although I'll have to consult the dictionary for some obscure words), and the reading flows painlessly as worlds unfold before your eyes. I have felt a perceptible improvement over Men of Bronze, which was very good.
I wish I'd be able to write half as crafty as he does!
Things to improve? Yeah, of course. As neo-pagan, I feel a bit nose-shrugged everytime I read such an anachronistic use of the term heathen as Scott uses it... x-D
Anyway, a cool book, the story of an extraordinary man told with dignity and passion, I can only applaud and take my hat off... At thy feet, Sire!
On other bussiness, I have gotten my pawns on a copy of A. T. Olmstead's History of the Persian Empire, it has some really interesting chatpers, and the book looks pretty good, I'll try to put it to a good use on Inaros... :)
I have found Pierre Briant's From Darius to Alexander in French, I have to read it on the Library, and it's 2 volumes... I'll have to unrust my langue d'öil if I want to be able to benefit... Voilà!, another reason to learn languages, uh?
Lastly, as NaNoWriMo approaches, I am honing my skills, probably to tack the last of the book, and maybe the first revision? (or maybe I'll wait for Nanoedmo in March).
Now that I have finished the book, I will try to write again, while reading the other books on the stack, which is already a parasang tall!
I'm on holidays!
Be back in September! I've passed through the 100,000 words boundary! (Over 400 ms pages!)
And I'm reading Scott Oden's Memnon! Whoo! I love holidays, don't you? :-)
Laters (I may have intermittent Internet access, like right now...)!
I have travelled to the web site of Ursula K. Le Guin.
For those who doesn't know, she is a writer. A wonderful writer.
She was the one that introduced me into Science Fiction, with her The Left Hand of Darkness and later with her The Dispossessed. Those are wonderful books, indeed. She also wrote Fantasy, the Earthsea saga. And lots of other wonderful stories (one that comes to mind is The Word for World is Forest, for example).And I read this small article she wrote a bit ago:
Ursula K. Le Guin: What Makes a Story
And my eyes sparked, and the hint of a smile insinuated itself on my face as I became enlightened.
I have a story to tell. I have a space to share, rooms to visit, and different rythms and movements, a variety of offerings to the readers to explore a fragment of our History, and a part of what's made us be the way we are right now.
I have a story that's relevant, that has the potential, if I do my job as writer well enough, to move the readers, to give them ample space and time to re-create themselves in another world, that may provide them something to help them grow a bit more, to become a little bit more conscious of themselves.
I had some doubts about the way I am telling it, and the way it's showing itself, but she is right, I just have to provide the fertile ground, the refreshing water, the nourishing Sunlight, and some gentle breeze to oxigenate it, and the story will flouring, with every reader, from our Past to the Present.
Yes, The Libyan is a story, and I will work to make a great story out of it. Because it deserves to be told, to breath and live and spread, because it's my duty to make it worth of such privilege.
By the way, at the brink of the 100,000 words boundary, I am about to start writing the Battle of Memphis: the parties are moving to their respective places, the players are in front of their cards, the writer knows the script. iaci aleam!
W: 97925 (MP: 391.7, PP: 195.85), %: 81.6041666666667
Almost at the 100,000 words boundary... :-)
And, yes, how do you, as a general, manage to lure your enemy into battle? Because the enemy wants not to go, he's not, after all, silly, uh? ;-)
OK, this is the dilemma that Megabyzos is facing at the moment. And the solution he has found is, if I'm allowed to say so, pretty clever.
Pharaoh (Inaros) doesn't want to get out and face the might of the Persian army that routed his siege army at Pelusion, which has managed to surprise them by arriving at Memphis much faster than anyone would think possible, and has joined forces with the army inside the sieged White Castle of Memphis, which is comprimed by the remnants of the Persian army raised to fight at Papremis, and some reinforcements arrived from Upper Egypt (mainly a squadron of Jew fighters from Elephantine).
Pharaoh, therefore, refuses to fight. With the Greek camp by the river, on the North of Memphis, and the main camp set slightly to the Southwest of the town, he can easily counter any attempts to assault any of the sites, to intercept arrivals from the South (for example grounded troops, not by river, as he only controls the Nile from Memphis). And what happens when you, as a young, fiery soldier, who's walked from Tyre, Syria, to Memphis, Egypt (about 800 km according to googleearth) fighting Canaanean rebels, then bandits, desert dwellers, rebel Egyptians, Libyans and Greeks, and then some (real, sand-only) desert travel for over half a year, just to arrive to your destination with your comrades and find out that the enemy doesn't want to fight?
You get angry.
Tomorrow (if not today) I'll start writing the first games before the Big Clash.
The Battle of Memphis is about to arrive. Rejoice! (sortof)
Almost 4,000 more words to add to the counter, I'll let you know when I upload them, but the grand totale is approaching the 100,000! (around 95,000).
As this is a happy-happy joy-joy moment, I'll post the promised, fine-grained battle-plan of the Battle of Memphis, as I originally (re-)created it a little over one month ago, when I was celebrating Litha in Alicante.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Battle of Memphis!
Well, yes, it's drawn in the sand. What did you understand when I talked about "fine-grained"? There are millions of grains of sand in that battle! You can click on the image to get a bigger version and count them yourself!
OK, I would post the battle, but then I would have to kill you (and Google, and...) or risk spoiling a lot of suspense on a novel I'm sure nobody will read :-p
Well, the point is that after a dashing, daring, gasping movement, Bagâbuxsha (i.e. Megabyzos) has managed to catch the rebels unprepared (not exactly "by surprise", but, anyway...) and both parties, led by Faraoh Ienheru (a.k.a. Inaros) and stratégos Kharitymides (rebel side) and generals Bagâbuxsha and Taxmaspâda (Persian side), are getting themselves ready to weep blood-red over the Nile waters with their respective enemies' guts.
Not really, but it's lotsa fun writing it (like those videogames where your troops die but you know nobody's really suffering... let's discriminate between current reality and past or ficticious times, shan't we?) and I hope to get through it fairly easily and make a good battle. Then there's only the Prosopitis thingie and the walk through the desert till Cyrene, and back to Athens, and then finishing the Spartan mission (that we left, remember gentle reader, back in the middle of it during Nanowrimo 2005) and we will be left... Probably more than the planned 120,000 words for the draft, but not many more, I guess...
Anyway... Best regards and Blessed Lúnasa (or Lughnassadh) for all that Celebrate!
This is a funny web comic about the writing bussiness and stuff...
I also love chocolate too! :-)
Enjoy and wait for some update in the following days, although I've been reading and thinking more than writing as of late...
Interesting blog entry about a subject I wrote yesterday (BTW, that blog hasn't been updated in a year, which is a pity):
ΚΑΛΛΙΣΤΗ ΚΑΙ BELLISSIMAE
The blosphere has made lots of bells and whistles about a Mac application, WriteRoom... It's a full screen application and a simple text editor, to write without distractions.
The boardbox/laptop equivalent of the AlphaSmarts, only simpler. Other offers have quickly sprouted here and there. Dark Room is a .NET equivalent for the Windows OS (I don't think it may run on the Mono free software framework on UNIX). Followed suitely by JDarkRoom, the Java equivalent (which is not working on my GNU/Linux box with Sun Java 1.4.2).
It's cool to get better productivity. But we have had that for years. For lots of years.
Enter the GNU/Linux console (or the Free/Open/Net-BSD console!):
a) Full screen.
b) Multitasking nevertheless.
HOWTO: Fire up VI (or Emacs; I prefer ViM, but you can choose among 1,000 text editors) and you have all the power of UNIX at your command. A simple, dumb editor? It's nice to write, but why ask for less when you can have the full screen power of UNIX, easier and more reliably???
I think we are living the Mac fad, which is Mac/Apple (re-)inventing everything again... Well, yeah. Paraphrasing the Inmortal F. Mercury: I want to break free.
* ViM rules, and if you use GNU Screen you'll have all the productivity you need.
* EMACS is loved by many.
* Write Room
* Dark Room
* JDark Room
* Open Office has a Full-Screen mode
* Abiword has one too.
* LyX is a favourite of mine, and you can get full screen as well.
PS- Actually, this Write Room offers nothing (and seriously less than what) you couldn't have 20 or 30 years ago with any UNIX, or even some 15 years ago with DOS on a small PC (and let's not start with the Amiga, etc...).
I felt a little bit fluffy, a LJ friend arrived in full, Latin force, and I thought: why not?
This looks like a pretty interesting blog, I've added it to my links bar as well.
No more news related to the novels, except that I have managed to get a Spanish, recent edition of Xenophon's Kyropaedia and that I got a really cheap, pocket-but-hard-cover edition of Valerio Massimo manfredi's Empire of Dragons, which was in my bestsellers-to-do list...
Now, until Oden's Memnon is released later in the Summer, (and risking an Alexander's indigestion) my hopes are in the two novels about Alex (Stefen Pressfield's and Gisbert Haefs's ones) and in the early release of Haefs's last novel (Pilate's Girlfriend, Die Geliebte des Pilatus) as pocket book (because the bound edition is expensive, and I've got lotsa books to get).
I may get it anyway, compulsive fan in here, and get my little depression off because most of Haefs's books are not translated to Spanish... I'll have to jump to the ENglish editions, if they can be recommended (the Spanish ones are, at least, excellent).
Well... ΚΑΛΛΙΣΤΗ aut Bellissimae
Replying, I started exposing mine, and thought it was worth an entry of their own, even when I have already written about this, let's go into a little bit more detail!
My writing process, once a story bites me and doesn't let me go, is the following:
First I read, everything I can, about the event, the surroundings, the starrings, the political, military, economical, health, cultural, etc situations, and try to find a place to match everything with everything. These are usually frantic times, of book shopping, book hunting, and Internet searches.
Then I find a time slot to get my hands dirty... :-)
Then I start planning the whole thing. I follow, though, a different process from Scott's, I think: I have IONs (Items Of Narration) which are kind of scenes/chapters (actually they are linear narrations that can't be fractioned and keep their wholeness, so I can't mess around with their narrative ordering without creating weird temporal rifts and whatnots, which may be on purpose, anyway... :-)
IONs sometimes are a couple of scenes, and sometimes whole chapters, it depends on the specifics (and my chapters were very short a while ago... Currently they are a bit longer, which is somewhat worrisome, but we'll see...). They are all born from the basic novel layout, which is the way the 'director' in me wants the reader to get the story: each item gets a heading, and goes into the 'TOC' with a letter.
Once I have the TOC set to my liking, I get the rough layout of the novel:
The Libyan had identified some 22 IONs in 3 parts, plus opening and closing chapters: Prelude: S, Part I: A-B-C-D-E-F-G, Part II: H-I-J-K-L-LL-M, Part III: N-Ñ-O-P-Q-R, Epiloge: T;
By this time, I know, roughly, what I have to show/tell in the book and I have the dependencies between the different IONs solved---e.g. ION C cannot be understood without reading ION H first, because C happens first in time, but it's actually a flashback from H and needs its info to avoid repetition.
As an example, here's Damned Linneage: Prelude: U, Part I: W-A-F-B-G-C, Part II: H-D-I-E-K, Part III: L-M-N-Ñ-O, Part IIII: P-Q-R-S-T; Epilogue: V; yes, the flashbacks end with the Part II, which is a crisis point, anyway... :-)
Then, it all boils down to get the ION, read the 1 or 2 lines description, recall what's all about, and what has gone before, and pre-create the whole thing in my mind. While doing the TOC I already decided on POV and narrator (for example, in D.L. there's a 1st person POV in IONs A-F and then an omniscient 3rd person narrator. In Inaros I have three voices, one for the Greeks (Argyros), one for the Libyans (Amyrteos), and one for the Persians (Megabyzos), but development has shown a second Persian voice (Bagâbigna), and I may change the whole voiving thing once I start rewriting/editing the draft; in Alaric there was a 1st person narrator, presbyter L. Domitius Ahenobarbus, and an omniscient 3rd person narrator, with two, so far, additional voices: Alarīks's and Pa. Cornelius Ruber Thiudarīks's).
So, I get the ION, the story in my head, the actors ready, makeup, dressed, and characterized correctly (even if they need post-production FX or C.G.I. partners), the set already up, the attrezzo in place, the orchestra in place, partitures and violins at the ready; silence! camera! action!
And then I complain about this! I am, definitely, a whiner: there are not many things comparable to get all your being involved and transcribed into words; comics are one I've also enjoyed creating, the 9th art, but it takes a lot of time and effort as well, so I cannot afford more for the time being. The other activities I have felt this are quasi-mystical in nature, and hard to describe in words (ocarina-making and Aikidō, among them)
Whichever, though, there's magic around, and if you can feel it, and transmit it to your readers, so they can share your world---their world!---with you, and together live a new experience, one that'll transform all of you into better persons, and happier, the more the better! :-)
And that's all... Tooth pain, and a travel in the sights, a great long weekend in my homeland, Galicia (good, old, poor, Gallæcia). I'll try to take pictures!
Reuters reports that one of the sarcophagus bears the name Neb Ra Khatow, while the other one was inside the first one, and it definitely bears human appearance...
Now, if Carbon 14 was able to pinpoint a little bit more, I'd have a name to use in my novel... :-)
Osiris and Ra (I wonder if Re would be more appropriate, and if the owner's name would, then, be Ned Re Khatow... Any egyptologist with language knowledge around?) are depicted in the exterior sarcophagus, which was to be expected, I guess... We'll have to follow this discovery closer!
I'll show you the Real Thing, but in the mean time, I can't wait to show you the battle of Memphis!
That's right, to show you! I have recreated the Battle of Memphis! Nod...
Now, this is a low scale, poor resolution sketch of the Real Battle, so please be kind with the author (who happens to be me, please be doubly kind!).
Ladies and gentlemen... With all of you, and only for you (considering the number of readers I have, this is basically true! :-) The Battle of Memphis!
Legend: Red is Greeks and Libyan rebels, Blue is loyal Persians (ahem!).
The rebel lineup is, after roll call, Left wing Libyan cavalry, Libyan and Egyptian infantry led by Pharao Inaros (and his generals; on the upper left of the image), Right wing is Greek epibatai, mercenary hoplites and Tesalian cavalry (depicted as a horrible diamon of 3 sides, i.e. a triangle, because I forgot it was a diamond configuration and drew a triangular Macedonian formation, my fault; all of this led by strategós Kharitimides and his commanders; holding the Place of Honor in the battle line). The Persian line is, Right wing assorted Median and Bactrian cavalry, and Memphis garrison and stationed army, plus the Eastern Fort army, led by the Lower Egypt army general; Center Persian infantry (basically Lidyan army and Upper Egypt Judean garrison from Elephantine; led by Megabyzos himself, because Artabazos is AFK because of illness) and Left wing, opposing the Greeks, the bulk of the Siryan army and cavalry (led by Megabyzos's commanders, including Megabazos).
Cavalry is marked by the crossed rectangles, infantry by the non crossed ones, and movements of the different units are marked in their own colors. The black line in the middle shows the infantry battle line after the clash between the armies, while the lines that leave the picture on the upper and lower sides mark the initial clash and further development of the cavalry units as they run away and pursuit each other.
I've left the picture very clean, in order for you, gentle reader, to clearly envision what's going on, once I get the pictures off the camera card, I'll show you the thing in its full glory, with all the gory details easily discernible... :-) For example, here's no distinction between shock troops and distance troops, or between heavy and light infantry, for example.
Of course, this battle is the final clash of a much more complex operation that's going on in several different layers and places, this is simply the signature to the whole thing...
As a final note, I am sure that the clever reader will have already guessed in which battle I have based this one, roughly---and only roughly, because I noticed the similarity only after I have saw the battle, not when it was happening---, to show Megabyzos's military genius. If you haven't, though, then you'll think I am really clever and a military genius myself, which will be very funny and will make me laugh until very late hours in the night before a chimney when I am an old, famous writer... :-)
Lastly, I know the picture is not scaled, don't be picky... If you press me enough, though, I'll make a scaled one, but be forewarned: the scale of these bussinesses is really beyond the experience of a XX Century born mind, unless you happen to have military experience... Don't complain if you feel scammed after it! But first, you'll have to insist... :-)
ΚΑΛΛΙΣΤΗ (and blessed Litha to all that celebrated!)
OK, the crisis is over, sort of. My long time reader and collaborator, Pierre (pacal), has shaken a bit my foundations and self-pityness, and he was about right, anyway.
So, I'm back into The Libyan. I'll update the sidebar of this new layout to contemplate this one of these days.
Where were we? We were in Memphis (Libyan rebellion army and Delian League, Greek navy) and in Pelusion (Persian army).
Our impressive Satrap of Syria and General of the Armies Megabyzos (Bagabuxsha) has conquered Pelusion back from the paws of the Rebellion after a long trip through Palestine, and the Sinaí desert, and is getting ready to defeat the Rebellion once and for all.
The Greeks, led by stratégos Kharitimides, and the Rebellion army, led by the recently (self-)crowned King Ienherru (Inaros) of Libya, Son of the Sun Psammetik IV, Pharao of the Two Lands, are licking their wounds, still trying to break through the solid defenses of the White Castle of Memphis, which has been resisting a siege for almost four years.
Our "starrings" are also well positioned: Libyan Prince Amyrteos is in Bubastis, preparing a line of defense on the river, while Argyros, the Greek psiloi, and Leucon, the Sacred Band mercenary, are coordinating the efforts of the Greeks in effectively blockading the Phoenician, Persian fleet in the Pelusiac branch of the Nile. In the meantime, our young general Megabazos (Bagâbigna) is preparing the path for the Army to move to Memphis, securing the Eastern bank of the river all the way upstream to Memphis and the Eastern Fortress little army.
Now, the pieces are almost in place, and the big battle is ready to begin: the Persians will destroy the Rebellion in Memphis, and force the Delian League navy to drydock in the river island of Prosopitis, near the town of Papremis where the first big battle happened, four years ago. The remnants of the Rebellion will hide in the Libyan marshes beyond Mareia, while the Persians will siege the Greeks for 18 months before destroying them, securing the whole of the Delta and returning the normality to the Lower Egypt.
Now, the trick is, how did they do that??? You'd like to know, eh? :-)
Well, I'd love to as well! I am, however, examining different possibilities. I'll move for the more plausible one, but not if it's extremely complex to do so. The most probable path, nevertheless, is usually the fastest, but that rarely means the shortest, just the easiest to travel through...
The Persians will have to be able to win the battle (not an easy feat, as the Rebellion's been fighting and working for years, and count with a formidable army of 5,000 Greek hoplites) and force the 200 Greek triremes to land on the island instead of escaping down through Kanopos or Naukratis... I'm about to setle and start writing. I'll let you know how it goes, but experts and friends alike, you are welcome to share your thoughts... Let's discuss!
And thanks for being out there... :-)
I am using a new template file, but I'll probably make up a new one one of these days, though maybe not.
What? My current WiPs, specially The Goth.
Why? Because I am starting to see I can't enjoy writing down a certain detail level I --at least at the moment-- have to deal with writing novels for such lengthy periods of time. I tend to become wandering and disillusioned. I enjoy reading those kind of novels, but I'm no Gisbert Haefs of Gore Vidal to write them, and I can't seem to find the "right" way for me.
Solutions? Well, yeah, kind of.
I have to concentrate in shorter events. I have to be able to find the knob of the historical event and concentrate around it. Shorter means more focused, more character-driven, instead of event-driven, and where characters show the story, instead of me telling it to the readers.
This is easy --more or less-- to do for The Libyan, because it's mostly written, and the events left are "just" 18 months. Besides, the whole thing can be seen as a unique event with some small ramifications (the Spartan thread, and the siege years), but it's the Rebellion, the Greeks, and the Defeat, basically one biiiig jump, not lots of things happening... Therefore, I think I will concentrate on it and on doing a good rewrite, and then I'll evaluate my whole possibilities with The Goth. Because I find it fascinating, but there are so many fascinating things to tell about! And this is part of the problem, by telling I lose the showing...
As for Damned Linneage, it's conceived in a completely different way, and I think I will be able to follow it without so many problems.
In my last entry I suspected I had moved through a door, but instead of closing behind my back, I find an open, wide space in front of me, full with opportunities to become a better writer (who knows, maybe a good one in the future?) if I am bold enough to locate myself in the map...
Anyway, I'll appreciate your help and comments on this matter...
$ perl ../Meta/wc.pl alarico_2006062.txt 120000 2>/dev/null
W: 12937 (MP: 51.748, PP: 25.874), %: 10.7808333333333
This is small step ahead, but I think I have broken a certain barrier, conceptually speaking. We'll see how things move along after my exam next Monday.
Great weekend to everybody in the meantime.
PS- Edited to correct some typos.
From a H.N. POV there are two types of characters: historical and non-historical, or fictional ones. Both of them, though, must be realistic and believable characters, this is, not overtly fantastic (like, say, a Dragon, or a honest lawyer... ahem! :-)
Historical characters are the ones primary sources give us well documented, and they come in two flavors, real and mythical. The real historical characters are those that we can have a high enough certainty that they were real some time in the past (like king Alphonse X of Castilia, for example). The mythical ones are well documented in primary sources but, well, don't seem to be real (at least, so far in Historiography, like el Cid presented in the epical poem, or --let's be a bit polemic-- Jesus Christ as presented by the Christian sources).
Fictional characters, OTOH, come in many flavors, but there are also a couple of them that shine over the rest, at least for me, at the moment. Those are the companion and the gossiper. The companion is a character that goes with the (presumably historical) primary character (starring, or a similar role, kind of Beta male to the Alpha male, or the Princess for the Hero, etc...) and the gossiper is the one that's everywhere and can tell everything to everyone. There are many more (the antagonists made to make the main character shine by contrast, or the redshirts, created just to fill-in and, eventually, die, a concept I learned from Star Trek; etc...) but these will suffice for the moment.
Here you have the classification so far, in a glorious display of HTML mastery (ahem!):
- Historical characters
- Real characters
- Mythical characters
- Fictional characters
- Companion character
- Gossiper character
Let's follow this classification with my novels (the ones you can watch on the counter in the left side of the main blog page):
- The Goth:
- Real characters: Alaric, Ataulf, Valens, Stilicho, etc...
- Mythical characters: none
- Companion characters: Cornelius Theodoricus
- Gossiper characters: Domitius Ahenobarbus
- The Libyan:
- Real characters: Inaros, Megabyzos, Amyrteos, ...
- Mythical characters: Kharitimides, Megabazos
- Companion characters: Leucon
- Gossiper characters: Argyros, Megabazos, Amyrteos
- Damned Linneage:
- Real characters: none
- Mythical characters: Laius, OEdipus, Yocasta, etc...
- Companion characters: Aspisides
- Gossiper characters: Elektra Dorothea
I have, deliberatedly, left many important character behind, else I would need a huge post and lots of time.
You can see, by comparing, the very different feeling each novel presents: The Goth is strongly based around real characters (re-created by me, but real, who did real things), with some fictional characters to help me to present different POVs, or aspects from a different perspective.
The Libyan, on the other hand, is based on little historical evidence, and I am forced to supply most of the details, and therefore the fictional characters are very important.
Damned Lineage is a historical synthesis of different, related Greek myths on the Bronze Age, deconstructed so to re-create historical settings that could have plausibly derived in the creation of the myths. Therefore all (or most, anyway) characters are mythical or fictional.
The challenge in each novel is different, and characters need to support me and help me make them. I try to be as realistic as possible, and as believable as possible, using the techniques I can (playing, basically, with the characters) in order to provide the best novelling experience I am able.
Maybe another day I'll complete my own theory. Those who have formal studies about writing, etc, are more than welcome to crash my feeble attempts to formalize a bit my work, I am "playing by ear" in this... But please, be gentle... :-)
This is -- so far -- the Alaric of my novel, The Goth, as faithfully credited by his confessor and biographer of sorts, presbyter Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus:
I am: Alaricus (Alarīks), son of Arimir, magister militum per Occidentem, rex of the Vesi Goths, and I am dying.
I want: to find a place within the Roman Empire where my People can live in peace, safe from the barbarian Huns. As Roman foedi we deserve better than we have been granted, and after years of fighting, my people needs to settle and flourish
I wish: that Honorius and Theodosius -- and their respective puppet masters -- accept the fact that the Goths are here to stay. We are the new blood the Romans need to survive, the same way the Gauls and the Illyrians were before us, we are the new Romans and I wish Constantius and the mentulae in Ravenna, and Anthemius and Antiochus, who are the real rulers in Constantinopolis would find a way to fulfill their ambitions leaving us aside.
I hate: to be fooled around, I am not famous for my patience.
I miss: the good old days on the Prut river, before the Huns arrived and the Great Migration came. I also miss my father and my grandfather, and the Old Ways of my People, I miss the good times, when Stilicho and I sat on a fireplace in the middle of Moesia, and talked about stuff that seemed so important at the time...
I fear: that when I die, my people will starve or will be cornered and fade away from memory as others had before done. We have fought so hard just to lose everything at the moment, simply because I am such a weak leader
I hear: that the Huns are starting to move again, and that the Alans, Vandals and Suebi have entered into Hispania, after plundering the Gaul for years; also I hear that it's hot outside, but I have a deadly cold, I feel it deep in my bones...
I wonder: what will be of my People, will they be able to find a place for them, now that I have failed to cross them to Africa? Who will be able to lead them successfully out of this trap that Italy has become?
I regret: not being able to save Flavius Stilicho a couple of years ago, when that snake of Honorius cornered him; he was an honorable man and a great warrior, he beat me many times and I can only hold his memory as a second father to me
I am not: fully able to understand the mentality of the Romans that prefer to trade with his own People's suffering in order to gain a temporal power, not even after all this time living among them, and fighting for them, and against them...
I dance: not anymore, but my heart still beats to the drums and flutes of my People, and my spirit is lifted with theirs by the music of our Traditions
I sing: at the firelight, with my warriors, remembering the ways of our People and the legends of times gone by, even now that my voice is fading away, like that of the distant heroes of yonder days...
I cry: to the foolishness of the stupids who have forced me to spill blood on the ground because they won't allow me a place to spill grain, instead. We are as Roman as they are, we have fought for their lands, and their gold, and their rights; we have died for them, we have suffered what most of them had never done, and we deserve our reward as Gothic Romans.
I made: what so many other Roman Generals have been making ever since Cornelius Sulla, I entered into Rome with my legions and showed them who was the real boss... if only Ravenna had been easier... But in my last days, it all seems void and pointless
I have not always been: fighting Honorius, although now that I'm looking behind, it seems I have for my whole life; I seek joy and love, like every men does...
I wrote: letter after letter to the Senate, to the Emperor, to the Praefecti and the powerful, only to find them returned with the seals intact, or with despicable rejections and threats, which is frustrating and infuriating
I confuse: piety with intelligence, and God knows I have tried to be the former while using the latter, but our Sin is for our Pride to condemn us, and I am not as intelligent as my vanity made me think, I am no Caesar
I need: to think of a way to save my People, and I await the arrival of my brother-in-law, Athaulfus, with anxiety; he must learn the way that's been opened to my eyes by Revelation, now that I won't be able to follow it myself...
I should: have killed Honorius years ago and wore the Purple myself; I've never wanted it, but it would have probably been for the best; Attalus is an incompetent, and I hope my successor won't try to use him, as he will be disappointed again, if only he wasn't so useful to legitimate our Rightful petitions!
I start: to feel that life is finally leaving me, and I depart to join my ancestors, God knows I love Him, but my blood is thicker than wine, and Tyz is calling the warrior in me to join Aramir and Wulfatta, and so many others
I finish: this asking for forgiveness, father Lucius, for I have sinned...
The town features a wonderful, intact, medieval wall and lots of churches! From the Vettonic town Obula, it became the Roman Abula (or Abela)... Among many other attractives, in Ávila was born the (in)famous queen Isabel I of Castilia, the supporter of Christopher Columbus's first voyage to the (suddenly New) World. Ávila is also the birthplace of St. Theresa of Jesus, a very famous mystical woman. St. juan de la Cruz was also born here (or whereabouts).
Museums, walking, a wondrous landscape, a tranquil, little town, good food, nice weather, it was certainly a cool weekend, I'll post some pics when I have some time, they are still on the camera! A pity I couldn't visit the numerous Vettonic castra in the region, I took, however, some pictures of some berracos, big zoolithic figures of bulls, cows, pigs and other animals with no apparent purpose, but that were very important for the Celtiberic peoples of the region!
One year older, nod... But am I one year wiser? I doubt it. Time moves ahead effortlessly, but my mind sores trying to keep its pace... Tempus fugit, said the (always anonymous) philosopher, and I think he (or she) also meant that life runs faster than wisdom.
Am I carpe dieming? Dare to tell otherwise to my eyebags! :-)
I could certainly benefit from some more free time to orgarnize myself and to concentrate in some mundane activities that'd free my mind from a constant pressure to be creative, or to learn more and more... But it could be worse.
In the meantime, the pope in me (after all, that's what pontifex maximus really means, since, probably, the VI or VII BCE!) is thinking about sainthood... While other religions I won't mention seem to be really fixated about death and in death, Erisinism (or Discordianism) is more concentrated in life, and therefore our saints are usually so while they are alive (which is somewhat logical, only the truly Touched can keep spreading Chaos after life, the rest must be alive to do so!)... However, the little modesty I retain refrains me from sainthood... Any Discordian (aware) pope around to help me? :-)
Well... the Goddess Will Know.
Do you know why the famous character, slayer of Troy, maximum deceiver, and greatest traveller of all times, inmortalized by Homer in his Odysseia is called Ulysses?
Well, it's a story worth knowing, trust me. The Greek name is Odysseus, son of Laertes, which in Greek is written Ὀδυσσεὺς Λαερτιάδης. The funny thing is that Homer didn't write in this elaborate, cool Greek script, with spirits, accents, and whatnots.
Actually, he didn't write at all!
The Illiad and the Odysseia were written some centuries later, after lots of oral transmission. Now, for an illiterate society, oral transmission is very important, bards have extraordinary memories, and stories can be transmitted faithfully from generation to generation with a great deal of fiability (i.e. it's not gossip!).
When they were first written, however, the Academics in Alexandria hadn't worked out the alphabet, and most of the usual Greek notation used today got fixated in Byzantine times (!). They wrote in what they had, a variation of the Phoenician alphabet, and every state-city had a particular variation of it, several letters had different representations (a cool example: the letter 's' was sigma: Σ, but it was also written as C. This is seen in the non-capital letters, where sigma is σ, but when it cas the last letter of the word (in many nominatives and accusatives!) it was written as ς. From this last way the Romans, through the Etruscians which got the script from the Greek colonies in the Magna Graecia and elsewhere in the West Mediterranean, got their 'S', which is ours. From the other capital sigma, the one we use to write the C of 'cat' the Russians got their cyrillic script 'C' (and from there the famous CCCP = SSSR, where P is the capital rho, of course).
So, we don't actually have Ὀδυσσεύς, but ΟΔΥΣΣΕΥΣ, no spirits, no accents, no nothing!
Now, let's suppose you are copying (by hand!) a manuscript you got in a clay tablet, a caw hide, a papyrus leaf or even a sheet of Pergamus, and you are trying to decypher the original scribe's particular way to put the sigmas, and the ypsilons, and he's using the infamous digamma, by Zeus! Damn him and damn you for trusting a book to a Naxian... They are good sailors, but literature... Ah! That's something only Athens can be proud of.
You finish your copy and it's sent to, dunno, Siracuse, where it's copied again, and from there to, say, Taras (Tarento). Now, in the way, a little copy typo has got in the middle.
The first time the copyist read the starring's name, he thought someone in Siracuse had a funny way to write the lambdas. Yes! He should have read ΟΔΥΣΣΕΥΣ, but Δ had the lower stroke written in a funny way, and he though it was Λ.
Thus, from ΟΔΥΣΣΕΥΣ we get ΟΛΥΣΣΕΥΣ. From ODYSSEYS we get OLYSSEYS. This happened with other combination of letters and accents, and we also got OYLYSSEYS, OYLYSSHS (where H is the long E, eta), etc...
Now you can see the trend, right? Guess that OYLYSSEYS was read by a Roman, aloud, many times, but something didn't sound right. He was getting VLYSSEYS (OY is a false diphthong in Greek, and was read like English 'oo', remember that Y is like a French u or a German ü, midway between U and I), but the final Y wasn't necessary and it didn't really fit with any Latin declension, and thus someone (*) wrote VLYSSES, and VLYSSES he was ever since. We can also find VLYXES, though, as it's said, "your mileage may vary".
Basically somewhat different accents, and little differences in writing gave us two apparently different and unrelated names. Remember your school days?
"Homer was an Antiquity poet. He composed two most famous poems, the Illiad, which talks about the war of Troy, and the Odyssey, which talks about Ulysses's travels."Illiad = Troy, Odyssey = Ulysses. Yeah, very intuitive titles, yessir! Of course, time got in the middle, and a lot of time at that! Illiad comes from Illión, the Myceanean name for the town.
Well, after this fun, I'll comment about a little update on my novel draft, The Goth. It's peculiarly difficult to write about a time period which is fairly well documented but you lack the sources! I'll try to go to the only library I've found that has the 400 pages book about Valens, that may help...
For the rest of all of us, nice weekend and ΚΑΛΛΙΣΤΗ.
(*) that someone is unknown, but a well know someone else that used it was called PVBLIVS VERGILIVS MARO, who wrote a book called AENEIDA in the I Century CE which got very famous, specially since it finally told, after many centuries, how the damned horse had made Troy to fall! :-) We know him as Virgilius nowadays, but, remember, he was also called Publius, like me. ;-)
Please, meet my, for the time being, new Roman POV character, Paulus Cornelius Ruber Theodoricus.
He's a tough and mean (OK, it's actually an overall good guy, but he's Roman, and this is a novel about Alaric and his People) military praepositus in the Equites scutarii Illyriciani, Serianae unit (which is listed in the Notitia Dignitatum, but I have to make sure it existed in 376 CE), because his adoptive father was a member of the Senate in Constantinopolis thanks to (and despite of) his political connections as member of the stuff of Julian's (I've made him a dux on the Danube not far from Vindolanda, who marched with Julian when he was raised to Augustus by his Gallian troops and went to the East to fight against his cousin Constantius, and then surviving the turmoils of Julian's death).
He will be ``attached'' to Alaric's Goths (actually to Ambassador Wingureiks, who lead the Embassy to Antiochia) and will be present throughout the episodes that will take us to the battle of Ad Salices, in 377 CE.
As for his name, he was named Thiudareiks, and was the son of a Goth chieftain that offered him to the Romans as hostage after the relative peace of 357, after the Battle of Strassburg, but then revolted with other tribed after the movements of 358 against the Salian Franks. Quintus Cornelius Ruber was the dux in charge of the region were the Goths rioted and got to get Thiudareiks as his slave.
After years without descendancy, and noticing the nobility and general good disposition of Thiudareiks, he freed him, baptised him, and adopted him as his son. Thus Paulus Cornelius Ruber Thiudarīks was reborn (remember, Gothic -ei- is the representation of /ī/).
However, Thiudarīks has a very distinctive sound for both Latin and Greek ears, specially in Antiochia ad Orontem. Thus, Thiudarīks became Theodoricus, which is, curiously, the name of the emperor after Valens, which will die in a couple of years, and was born in Hispania, many even say in Gallaecia, my own land... :-)
As an interesting note, Theodoricus means, from the Greek name Θεοδόρος, 'little gift of God', while Thiudarīks means, more or less, 'king of the People'. Cool, uh? :-)
My contribution was to offer a couple of examples to add to hers, and one of the examples was my Roman name.
Romanly speaking, I'm called Publius Lilius Frugius Simius Excalibor f. Iosephi n. Johannis tribei Palatinae and I'm going to explain why.
(yes, I'm of noble origins ;)
Praenomen, Publius, because it's cool, and has a great abbreviation ("P.").
Nomen, Lilius, because my family name is related to the lirium flower (it's my mother's family name, but I'm adopting it because it's as mine as hers, right? and there aren't any males in our branch to bear the surname in the first place, which is the one that's passed to sons, thus I'm going to put hers as my first, and if I have any sons, they will be able to bear the name).
Cognomen, Frugius (Fruitful), because my S.O. always says my family is clustered like a pineapple (a Spanish expression, to be like a pineapple: como una piña) and thus it's a fun way to distinguish this particular branch of my family... :-) Cognomines were usually a characteristic of the families (of the pater familias) like Caesar (redheaded), Ahenobarbus (bronze-colored beard), or Scipio (ceremonial rod, the Cornelia Scipiones were the ones who finally beat Hannibal Barca at the Second Roman Wars, I mean, the Second Punic Wars, bearing the Roman name, the first one was the Carthaginian name... :-)
Agnomen, a nickname, Simius (Ape or Monkey) because, apparently, when I was a little child, I used to climb to the top of the blinds cord (that's used to raise them and lower them) and then jumped (in a kind of SWAT team on a wall, I know there's a specific name but I can't recall it now) to open them. I also climbed like a monkey over trees, tables, and other parts of the Universe. I'm 32 and my uncles still address me as Mono... :-)
Another agnomen, because I'm worth it, Excalibor, because it's related to the sword in the Arthurian legends, and my interest in fencing, martial arts, and Hoplology in general. And because it's cooler than Excalibur, :-)
Filius, that is, son of, Iosephus, because that's my father's name, and while I should use my mother's (to go with the nomen, her name was Lucilla) it's just a way to call someone, right?
Nepos, i.e. grandson, of Johannes, which is my father's father's name.
Tribei Palatinae, that is, I belong to the tribe of the Palatine hill, and that's where I should vote. Actually, as I am not Roman, I won't, but Palatine is the jet set neighborhood, and why wouldn't I be there, uh? ;-)
Well, time for bed. Merry Bealtaine to all the wiccans out there, and, for the rest of ya, ΚΑΛΛΙΣΤΗ
W: 9347 of 120000 (MP: 37.388, PP: 18.694), %: 7.78916666666667
That's it, an update... :-)
I have calculated, however, that if 9,300 words are, roughly, the first 1/3 of the first chapter, I will need about 200,000 words to tell this story! Whoah!
I'll be optimistic, though, and keep the 120,000 words goal for the time being.
Right into the second 3rd of the first chapter (which is--intelligently, if I may say so--called Dies I, or "Day 1", in English :-) we found ourselves in the ancient and important city of Antioquia ad Orontem, originally founded by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's Diadochi (heirs), in the province of Syria, in what nowadays is the boundaries between Turkey and Syria, and pretty close to the place where once lied the important city of Ugarit.
Antioch had an important port, Seleucia Pieria, at the delta of the river Orontes, which eventually lost its importance as the sediments transported by the river managed to render the harbor useless for big ships, at the time of the Crussades. In the meantime, it was one of the most important cities in the whole Empire, and only second to Constantinopolis and Alexandria in the Eastern part of the Empire.
North was Alexandretta, which took the role of most important harbor in the region in the Middle Ages, and westwards the important city of Aleppo, which was one of the most stable limes of the Empire in the East. South of Antioch lied Damascus, one of the oldest towns still inhabited in the whole world. Nowadays Antioch is the Turkish town of Antakya.
As mentioned in other fora, I am trying to switch points of view from the Goths to the Romans for the second part of the chapter, which will be, approximately, since Alaviv's Embassy to Valens, to the battle of Ad Salices. Later, we'll switch POVs again to the Goths, and head right into the last phase of the drama that peaked in hadrianopolis, which the sounding defeat of the Eastern comitatenses army and the death of Valens Augustus.
I've been recommended a book, Failure of Empire, by Noel Lenski, which looks really cool. However, at USD$75, it's out of my reach at the moment (not that's expensive, but I cannot justify the book for 1/3 of a chapter, maybe 2/3, at least not yet, try to explain this to my S.O... :-)
Failing University libraries, which I'll check, do my gentle readers have any other recommendations to an approach to Valentis biography, close friends, confidents at the court, and all that's missing at the Wikipedia? Web or classical better than Amazon, thanks... :-)
Against stupidity the very gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller (1759–1805)
It's the only thing I can say about this news (which, of course, I haven't seen in the Spanish news, anyway).
Spain destroys lost Roman city for a car park, by Jon Clarke in Malaga, (TimesOnLine).
Go read it and cry. I'm stupefied by yet another display of Spanish dead-brainness... It doesn't matter if it's the right wing party or, like in this case, the left wing party in the Goverment, as Lord Acton told Bishop Creighton in 1887: Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.
Not even Traian and Hadrian (and Theodosius, but I dislike him) being born there is of any importance. I sometimes feel so ashamed...
Eris confound them!
Yep! I finished the book of Lucian of Samosata containing many of his Dialogues.
Fantastic, truly fantastic, like anything else I have read from him. People should read him nowadays, indeed.
I am also finishing Julian, by Gore Vidal. Pretty cool. After it, will I read Stephen Pressfield's Alexander? Gisbert Haefs's Alexander? Or will they spoil the joy of reading Scott Oden's Memnon (see my links bar to reach Scott's blog) which is scheduled to be released in August?
Dilemmæ... In the meantime, I may start reading Manfredi's one, or maybe Aristophanes's plays... And I have that big Goths book by Wolfram to read through, or the new one about Ghengis Khan... Ah, so much to read, so little time...
Spain'll be on holidays, due to the Bona Dea festivity. Okay, it's actually because of Bealtaine. OK, not really, but May 1st is an important workers' day. It's also one of the most sacred days in the whole year for quite a lot of (neo- and arqueo-)pagan religions, so the joyer... :-)
I'll probably be away, a trip to Segovia, with its famous Roman aqueduct. I'll try to get some pics, of course! I'll let you know, anyway...
And as an update, the Vesi embassy has just arrived to Constantinopolis, but, alas, Flavio Valens Augustus is on Antiochia ad Orontem, and therefore some sailing is in order... I'll probably skim over this part, or the book will get unbearably boring, and move ahead to the cross of the Danube a couple of months later (September-October A.D. CCCLXXXVI), and the fun will start... *insert evil grin*
Have a great, wonderful weekend, and may the Gods bless you all in such a special date.
OK, I didn't get any book by those monsters. But I got:
- A couple of little books for documentation: "Late Paganism and Julian the Apostate", and "The Times of the Valentinians and Theodosius", by Spanish scholars, published by Akal, they are thin, but a great introduction and quick look-up guides to have around when writing.... Pretty handy. :-)
- Lucian of Samosata, I adore him, a collection of the Dialogs of the Gods, Dialogs of the Dead, Maritime Dialogs and Court Dialogs (titles as a direct translation from Spanish, so they will surely be different in English). After reading his Voyayes, how could I not get these? I was looking for this book, but last time I checked they didn't have it at my main bookstore. Joy! :-)
- Aristofanes, a classical author I've been meaning to read. Clouds, Lisistrata and Money. I've read he's really funny, so I expect to have a great time.
- Earth Conference One, with interventions by James Lovelock (of Gaia Hypothesis fame), Carl Sagan (of Cosmos fame, great Astronomer, Science vulgarizer and SF writer, he was cool), Dalai Lama (of, well, Dalai fame), Mother Teresa (of her fame), R. Panikkar (of I don't know which fame) and others... I expect to learn a great deal from this book. I'll let you know (if I understand anything).
- Genghis Khan, by John Man. I've been meaning to learn something about this man (more than I know, that is, from some light reading and Total Wars: Shōgun, Mongol Wars extension...) :-) Actually, it looks it will be a cool reading, and, all of a sudden, I am jumping almost 1,000 years ahead! Yeah, I know I will eventually get to those things... How was it called? Newpapers? Hmm...
Yesterday I wrote about walking to Antiochia, for our noble Embassadors.
Today, I have made some calculations if they took a ship at Constantinopolis. Silly me.
There are about 870 nautical miles (about 1000 miles) from Constantinopolis to the harbor of Antiochia, the town of Seleucia Pieria. A fast merchant ship, could maintain a sustained speed of 4 or 5 knots, and with good, favorable wind, reach 6 knots, while courier ships, basically light galleys, could maintain much higher speeds.
Anyway, considering my familiarity with Mediterranean navigation after writing the adventures of a fleet of 200 Greek trierei (triremes) for The Libyan, I feel confident about the following numbers:
Let's consider our Embassy arrives in Constantinopolis and is assigned or simply gets a fast merchant ship (which is somewhat logical, as an unwanted, unsolicited Embassy wouldn't be favored by a military vessel).
Here's the rough travel plan, in yellow the sea part, in blue the land path, so you can compare. The original picture was taken by the NASA and it's used here with implicit permission. Visit the Wikipedia entry for the original picture if you want.
The first 200 miles are used to get through the Strait of Dardanelos and to enter into the Adriatic Sea. Maintained speed for 10 hours a day, considering the chaotic currents, etc, 4 knots. Partial time: 5 days.
Next we get favorable, North winds that push us in open sea (as we aren't really merchanting anything, we don't have to go to harbors, and so on, except for water or food, which we are carrying in good quantities anyway), we sail the next 400 miles until we get close to Chiprus at an average speed of 5.8 knots for 11 hours per day (even when we could also sail by night, but it's always dangerous!). Partial time: about 4.5 days.
Finally, we move at a very comfortable speed of 5 knots bording the coast of Chiprus and directly until Seleucia Piaria, 250 miles, 11 hours per day. Partial time: 4.5 days.
Total time from Constantinopolis to Seleucia Piaria: 14 days.
Even considering delays, harbor stops, and the like: 20 days.
Definitely, we are going by sea!
Now, how will we return? Will Flavius Iulius Valens Augustus allow us to use the cursus publicus? Will we return by galley (remember, opposing winds this time) and then rush through Thracia, Moesia, and Dacia?
Almost the same difficulties would have found the Vesi tribes (Tervingi Goths and others) had they tried to cross it near the delta. Therefore they headed accross the Pyretus (Prut) and Hierasus (Siret) rivers, both important tributaries to the Danube, and then South, for some 200 kilometers following the Danube until they arrived to Durostorum, nowaday Silistra, in Bulgaria.
Now, let's follow, for a moment, the embassy Alaviv ad Fritigern sent to Valens Imperator, who was staying, getting ready for a Persian summer campaign, in one of the most important cities in the Eastern Empire, Antioch-on-the-Orontes, in nowadays Antakya, in Turkey (right in the frontier with Syria). This is actually what I am writing at the moment. (Not exactly right now, mind you :-)
I have actually calculate the path with modern day facilities, just to have a good idea. While transport means have changed a lot, the pathways are usually simply the old ones, recycled (you'd be surprised how many modern facilities use the same path as the Roman Way XIX (roughly from Emerita Augusta to Braccara and to Brigantium): motorway, high tension electrical wires, gaseoduct, oleoduct, scouting trails, and so on...)
We start moving South from Durostorum, and pass through Marcianopolis, we will have a fight against the Roman the next year. Next, Cabyle, then we pass pretty near Hadrianopolis (ah, what'll happen two years from now!) and head Southeast, for some more kilometers, until we arrive to the uia Egnatia and easilly arrive in Constantinopolis. Ah! Wonder of wonders! We have burned the first 450 miles or so!
Now, we cross the Pontus Euxinus, and cross the Roman Provinces Bithynia (partly the old Paflagonia), enter into Galatia (old Phrygia, where is modern Ankara, capital of Turkey), Cappadocia, Cilicia (and the city of Tarsus) and finally the province of Syria, and Antiochia ad Orontem, where Apollo tried to mate poor, young Dafne, and where Aléxandros III of Makedonia stopped to drink some water, and Seleucus I Nicator founded one of his odd-teen Antiochia, in memory of one of his relatives (he founded four cities with names of his relatives, weird him, uh?).
Total distance: about 1,100 roman miles (or some 1,010 miles, about 1,670 km)
Average walking speed for a healthy, not rushing, Human being: 4 km/h (about 2.5 miles per hour)
If we walk an average of 11 hours a day, at that speed (even in mountain ranges, and so on), we would need almost 38 days to cover that distance.
38 days to go. Fast.
38 days to return. Fast.
n days waiting for Imperial reception by Flavius Julius Valens Augustus.
Now, you have to stop sometimes, buy some food, hunt, some little fight here and there, and a host of other things that happen during such a trip. Actually doubling the time to go can be too much, but it's not too much. Let's say, about 60 days.
Return can be faster, because you are leaving with a paper from the Emperor. Maybe you are even using the cursus publicus which would be much, much faster (and cheaper!). Let's say 40 days to return. And at least a week in Antiochia. That makes it 110 days.
110 days. More than 3 and a half months.What a trip just to get the 'yes, but...' from Valens.
OK, the Vesi were already waiting to cross. And they surely walked from their places between the Prut and the Dniester while the Embassy was on its way. At least this is what I am writing. Until I thought how long would it take them to get the Antiochi and back, I thought: 'they crossed the Danube by the end of the Summer. And three months, you will get into the Winter! They must have to move while the EMbassy was on its way. They didn't wait for Valentis accept!'
Heh, I even think in Greek sometimes... Fancy, uh? ;-)
OK. Tourism is nice. I will be able to describe Antiochia in some fancy, nod... Antakya'ya istiyorum. "I am going to Antakya".
(yes, I am learning Turkish as well (slowly), heh... Why do you think I am writing soooo slowly? :-)
OK, let's hope that our modern day Goths will soon get some relief from the wrath of the waters of the Ister river...
I had, however, a nasty cold, which I still have, and despite the sunny weather, it was cold and windy to my (sick) taste. So, when I went to the beach, I basically sat myself where there wasn't too much Sun or Wind...
I took the chance, however, to go visitng Lucentum, the archaeological remains of a II-II Centuries Iberian, and I-II-... Roman town, which served as nexus between Cartago Nova (currently Cartagena) and the northern towns of Dianium (currently Dénia). The place is still pretty well preserved, despite all that has happened, and I think there are many places still to be excavated, we will see.
Lucentum and the MARQ (Archaeological Museum of Alicante) released a book, which I am holding in the picture on my left hand, with lots of interesting information about it, I think you can try to get it, it's written in Spanish. Try visiting their web site: MARQ (warning, Flash needed).
And a picture of myself, taken by my nice fiancée, with the Sun shining all over the place, and a roman domus (OK, its remains) as background... I may publish more pictures later, I just wanted to let you drool by envy... ;-)
Also, I took the chance of a really nice picture of the Castle of Santa Barbara when I was at the beach (and almost half the people was basically naked while I was shaking on my green jacket, argh). For more info, see, for example, Alicante Castillo.
Now, back to writing my novel. Gotta try to find a way to calculate how many mules, oxen and carts, and cattle, the Tervingi would have had with them during the migration... Any documents or books about wealth distribution of IV Century Germanic tribes? Thanks! :-)