Re: The Unholy Trio: Rephrasing the Question

From: donald_at_uBLpgULJEsAtRCVNZa44pGQBmwO_tmxcya4mpgAfQ8ToB1A5II9YczjIgu8xGw8gL15IB
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 2008 21:55:48 GMT

In message <> "Todd Gardiner" writes:

>I would suggest we to keep to the Bronze Age concepts of disease
>and illness. The modern ideas of pathogens, to me anyway, suck out
>the ongoing fear of a malady that strikes from "nowhere". While
>there might be understanding that a well is "polluted" and a
>forbidden swamp is "unclean", the description of illness as a physical
>entity which breeds and transmits itself through predictable vectors
>is a distinctly modern concept. My understanding of Bronze Age sickness
>that it is a type of curse that affects the body, one that is generally
>avoidable by holding to a culture's taboos, but potentially can strike
>the victims without warning even if they have followed all of the rules
>of survival.

You don't need a modern understanding of pathogens to know what behaviours cause disease. The earliest scientific studies of disease are less than 200 years old. The practice of poisoning wells by dumping dead bodies in them goes back centuries as does hurling corpses into beseiged cities. So we can be reasonably sure that any taboos a society has are based on observed behaviour. Rather than using modern terminology I take the view that in Glorantha bad hygine practices encourage disease spirits to remain nearby.

As an example the Oslir river provides the cities along her banks with clean water as long as the Emperor maintains good Dara Happen standards. If the Emperor fails to do so the water becomes poisonous and plagues break out in the cities. As those standards include both physical and ritual cleanliness you have a link. The mechanism may not be the same as the RW but the effects are the same. Now what offends the river may not be known precisely and some of the Dara Happen practices may be irrelevant but the link is there.

As far as striking without warning there are plenty of medical conditions that modern science does not detect until they are incurable. Far fewer than there used to be but the fact that the Chalana Arroy temple in Nochet has a priestess who can detect and cure a particular disease doesn't mean people aren't dying of it in Sartar.

>Humans have a great fear of the unknown (disease which can strike
>with no reason or identifiable cause) and things they cannot control
>or avoid (even the strongest can fall victim). To me, it is little
>surprise that Malia receives propitory worship, given that it is the
>only method which suggest a course of action people can follow.

It's a struggle between Chalana Arroy and Malia. Sometimes one is winning and sometimes the other.

Donald Oddy


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