(Literalists, please avert thine eyes.)
Rigid distinctions between metaphor and literal truth seem to me extremely alien to a mythological culture like the Heortlings. Metaphor lies at the heart of myth, of poetry and of certain forms of magical practice.
Much of the Gloranthan "son of a god" mythology is derived from Greek myth, where heroes were a particular class, and *by definition* semi-divine, the son of a deity. (We certainly don't use the Judeo-Christian definition!)
A few pertinent points
Orlanthi belong to a *boasting* culture. The bigger the better.
Orlanthi belong to *poetic* culture. Kenning and poetic exaggeration are
stock in trade.
Orlanthi belong to a culture notorious (at least in the Third Age) for being hostile to abstraction and theory-building, and obsessed with direct action.
What might Son/Dotter of Deity mean?
Children conceived on the Other Side are extremely magical by nature, and potential heroes. Hence, among others, Nandan. In adulthood, these children, in accomplishing great deeds, may become directly associated with the deity of their cult. Or what if a pregnant woman quests to meet a god and receiving a blessing for her child? I can't see this happening for Humakt - his touch would probably kill the child-but certainly for other gods.
Dual parentage of heroes is a common mythic theme, especially in Irish myth. Variants of the Tain Bo Cuailnge for instance, record complicated myths of how Cu Chulainn (the feat-iest hero of them all, and trained by a Vingan! :)) through a series of multiple pregnancies and swallowing/insects or tiny humanoids, had as father both the Light God Lugh and Sualdam mac Roiche. (He was also fostered, but lets not get carried away here :)).
Spirits may conceive upon women in the night, and perhaps gods. (I personally date the factuality of the later, but vey, the Compromise doesn't seem to be what it used to be, and I'm sure its *believed* to be true). And young pregnant women in embarrassing situations have certainly told more outrageous stories to disgruntled parents...
In the heroform, a hero can incarnate a god, to tremendous effect. And on the Quest too, a devote disciple may learn to incarnate an almost perfect Mask of his or her deity. Calling these people sons of daughters of the God may be a way of acknowledging this.
Some cult titles are honourifics that allude to a descent from the deity. Light Son for instance, is a fairly common one. These may be misunderstood by non-cultists (or even encouraged by the cult itself) to indicate a literal offspring.
I'm enjoying the current Humakti thread: we won't get concensus but we will get a better understanding of diversity and variation, which is cool. I'll have a follow up post on the topic soon.
nysalor_at_primus.com.au John Hughesjohnp.hughes_at_dva.gov.au
There are some things so serious you have
to laugh at them.
- - Niels Bohr.
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