Friday, 20 April 2012

The History of Ys

As Gratillonius, Roman centurion and future last king of Ys, approached Ys, he found an inscription marking an immemorial frontier. The inscription was dated DCLXXXVIII AVC (= 688 from the founding of Rome = 65 BC). (1) Gratillonius reflected that that was four and a third centuries ago. Thus, Gratillonius entered Ys about 368 AD and reigned for over two decades before Ys was destroyed. After that, Gratillonius, who had been a Mithraist and, while King, an incarnation of Taranis, became a Christian. The Empire withdrew and the Dark Ages, containing the seeds of the Middle Ages, began, polytheism becoming witchcraft.

Ys was a colony of Carthage which had been a colony of Tyre. One Witch-Queen's arcane instruments include a female figurine from ancestral Tyre. Both Tyre and Carthage play important roles in Anderson's Time Patrol series. The title of the Patrol story, "Delenda Est," refers to the Latin phrase, "delenda est Carthago," meaning "Carthage must be destroyed." (2) Hannibal must be prevented from sacking Rome. Romans must destroy Carthage. Time criminals must be prevented from destroying Tyre.

Caesar visited Ys but did not mention it in his writings although it then became a foederate of Rome. Brennilis, one of the Nine Witch-Queens of Ys, negotiated with Caesar for eternal silence about the new age of Ys which she had seen in a prophetic vision. The Three of Ys held Themselves and Their city apart from the new God Who was to come. Ys grew obscure as chronicles about it crumbled. We read of it as a legend and, in the Andersons' tetralogy, as a fiction.

The Anderson character, Skafloc, saw with elf-eyes things only glimpsed or dreamed by mortal sailors, including "...the drowned tower of Ys..." (3) Mermen must have seen it. (4) The parallel universes accessed from the Old Phoenix might include a world where the towers of Ys were never inundated and still exist in the far future with spacecraft and alien visitors. (5)

(Added, August 3rd, 2011: A "foederate" was a subordinate ally. Rome could insist that Ys accept a Christian chaplain but not prevent Ysans from worshiping the Three. The third volume implies that, when Ys was destroyed, Grallon (Gratillonius) had been there for seventeen years so less than two decades. (6) The volume also implies that Ys was destroyed in 400 AD which contradicts the date as calculated above. (7) ) 

(1) Poul and Karen Anderson, The King of Ys: Roma Mater, London, 1988, p. 99.
(2) Poul Anderson, Time Patrol, New York, 2006, p. 173.
(3) Anderson, The Broken Sword, London, 1973, p. 31.
(4) Anderson, The Merman's Children, London, 1981.
(5) Anderson, A Midsummer Tempest, London, 1975, pp. 90-106, 228-229.
(6) Poul and Karen Anderson, The King of Ys: Dahut, London, 1988, p. 450.
(7) op. cit., p. 483.

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