Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Maximus And Martinus

One pleasure of historical fiction is to read about encounters, interactions and conversations between a fictitious character who is the hero of the novel and real historical figures. Poul Anderson's time traveling characters meet a few kings and other celebrities.

In Poul and Karen Anderson's Gallicenae (London, 1988), Gratillonius en route to an audience with Maximus Augustus meets St Martin of Tours. Since this series is a historical fantasy, its action includes supernatural events, including both Pagan magic and Christian miracles. Thus, the fantastic stories told about Martinus may be true but Gratillonius has seen strange things in his Pagan city of Ys.

Apparently, St Martin and his monks went around destroying Pagan places of worship and erecting Christian sites in their place, an intolerable act which the state should have prevented, not encouraged. At the time, the fact that Martinus could get away with doing this while not suffering any supernatural sanction was regarded as proof that the old Gods were fading and that Christ's power was growing. Times have changed indeed. 

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