Literacy, mostly

From: Peter Larsen <>
Date: Mon, 05 Feb 2001 09:49:00 -0600

David Dunham says:

>Oh. I think the death of the FHQ would bring the title into some
>doubt. I don't think the typical KoDP and FHQ are married in the
>normal sense (living together, sharing assets, etc.), but there would
>be a new Feathered Horse Queen with whom the former KoDP would not
>have exchanged ceremonial vows.

        The FHQ and KoDP seem to be implicity not married in the standard sense. There is an exchange of gifts, and children seem an expected result but, other than that, contact seems purely ceremonial. My current theory is that the KoDP says King until a) he dies or b) he fails to complete a ritual with the FHQ. b) could occur for all sorts of reasons: the FHQ is dead, the KoDP or FHQ doesn't show up, the ritual is disrupted, etc. Which brings us to the question, can women become KoDP? If so, how? (Jane Williams (I think) had a theory about proxies, and the game KoDP offers a marriage with the LSK (which doesn't work in my mind (although it's good for the game); the LSK and FHQ are mythologically distinct.)

>Remember that the FHQ doesn't speak for the Grazers in military
>matters. I'm sure there'd be an advantage, but no guarantee.

        That's what I was thinking.

Stephen Tempest says:

>However, even in KoDP, set before the foundation of Sartar, there are
>professional merchants wandering from clan to clan across the breadth
>of Dragon Pass - I'm thinking of the woman who sometimes shows up as a

        I think her name is Sora Goodseller. She seems to be the exception (there is only one of her, after all), and it isn't clear what her affiliations are. In the new Glorantha, she'd better be part of a community. Perhaps she is associated with an Issarion clan somewhere (by extension, with an Issaries temple).

>Ring. She would need to have some way of keeping track of her stock,
>and remembering which tulas have certain goods available and which
>offer the best prices, etc - even if she doesn't get involved in
>complex economic deals.

        I sold books for 10 years. Without the benefit of trade feats, I kept in my head the interests and wants of many dozen customers and the types of stock of several dozen publishers and distributors. I supplemented this information with notes and catalogs, of course, but my memory is not particularly great. Certainly the pre-literate develop their memories to a greater degree than us decadent literary types.

>However, even in a basic agricultural environment, you'll often have
>to keep track of arrangements stretching over seasons or even years

        This is a good point, but it doesn't invalidate my point that the mechanism for recording these deals are a) memory and b) witnesses. The sagas are full of this sort of thing.

>Sure, most such "credit" will be
>informal, done through family ties ("Cousin Bjorn says you still owe
>him for borrowing his plough three years ago"), but the travelling
>merchants who deal in products not available locally (salt, metalwork,
>wooden goods in the Praxian borderlands, etc) will need to make more
>formal arrangements.

        I'm not sure. Wandering merchants will rely on memory and trust like everyone else. They deal in speculation; their insurance, if they are lucky and smart, is access to some necessary goods (salt, as you point out). These wandering merchants ought to be part of a community; if you screw the salt dealer too badly, your clan may find out that no merchants from that (temple?) will deal with your clan. There is probably some Issaries cures to mark a tula as a "bad deal." Your clan's Issarion may or may not be able to lift this.

>By the 17th century, things would be even more advanced in Sartar (and
>yet more so in Tarsh, come to that). There are now cities with
>permanent markets; roads connecting them; long-distance trade.

        What this means, in my opinion, is that most clans keep an Issaries initiate in their associated city to watch over their needs. This initiate probably runs some other business on the side, but will have space to put up the clan's merchants when they come for the seasonal markets. He or she will also have the authority to enter into preliminary negotiations with other clans so the clan's travelling merchant(s) will bring the right stuff. How do the town merchant and the clan merchants exchange information? By trade magics -- familars, divination, hell, Issaries' Magic Merchant Message Mules for all I know. They won't need to send notes back and forth.

>Give it another century or two and Sartar may well become "civilised",
>in the classical Graeco-Roman sense of the term.

        In another century or two the illiteracy plague will render this argument moot, I'll agree.

Martin Dick's comments about the unity of Sartar made me wonder -- do you suppose Sartar's unity magics, however successful they were, made Sartar more receptive to the Lunar "We Are All Us" philosophy? If so, does rejecting the Lunars weaken Sartar nationalism?

        Also, for a look at a somewhat trollish society, Eleanor Arnason's "Ring of Swords" is a science fiction novel with a society segregated by gender where the males and females give very different accounts of why this segregation is a good thing and what it means. There's also a very funny sequence about translating MacBeth into this alien culture (Personally, I want to see an Uz "Romeo and Juliet.")

Peter Larsen

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