Monday, 29 October 2012

Time Passes

In Roma Mater (New York, 1989) by Poul and Karen Anderson, the Roman Centurion Gratillonius becomes King of Ys and persuades the Nine Witch-Queens of that city to send a storm to destroy a Scotian fleet that will attack not Ys but a city further down the Armorican coast. The Ysans would not have harmed anyone who was not attacking them but Gratillonius is Roman prefect as well as Ysan King.

After the defeat of the Scoti, the narrative for several chapters ceases to follow a single sequence of events. The Andersons convey that a period of time passes with Gratillonius as the Ysan King.

Chapter XVI begins:

"Ys jubilated." (p. 288)

Not only is there a Fire Fountain in the Forum for six weeks but the Nine can promise "...fine weather - part of the celebrations..." (p. 288).

Chapter XVII begins:

"After the victory celebrations, Ys settled back down into the ways of peace." (p. 302)

Chapter XIX:

"Festivals surrounded Midsummer." (p. 337)

In Chapter XX, section 1, we learn that Gratillonius' deputy among the legionaries has "...kept them in sharp form...," cooperating with the Ysan regulars, but can now announce a party. (p. 348) We imagine that the Green Whale where they will feast is the inn to which two of them, and we, were introduced in Chapter IX. Sometimes it happens that men who are used to popular entertainment see and unexpectedly appreciate some Shakespeare. That happens here. Expecting a comedy by Plautus, they instead see Aeschylus' Agamemnon translated into Ysan by one of the Nine. They want to know what happens next and one of them has " '...heard Greek plays go in threes...' " (p. 351).

Chapter XX, section 2:

"Summer advanced in triumphal procession." (p. 351)

Gratillonius has time for himself. In Ys, the King can walk around town and meet Ysans. He sails, rides, hunts, explores, talks late with philosophers, participates in sports, relaxes and practices handicraft. The authors describe the scenery as he walks home.

Chapter XXI:

"Summer welled forth in its final great warmth, light, and greenness." (p. 356)

Chapter XXII:

"At equinox all the Nine must be in Ys, attending the Council and carrying out certain rites." (p. 366)

Chapter XXIII:

"The Black Months were upon Armorica. As Midwinter drew nigh..." (p. 380)

By the end of the volume, months have elapsed. Dahilis, one of the King's nine wives gives birth...

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