Monday, 17 December 2012

More Vocabulary

In Poul Anderson's The Golden Horn (New York, 1980), as in his Rogue Sword, we, or at least I, continue to encounter unfamiliar terms.

(i) The Byzantine Empire is divided into regions or districts called "themes." (p. 112) I know the word of course but not in this context and do not remember noticing it on first reading.

(ii) Harald gives a "calyx" as a present. (p. 132) The recipient describes the image of Aphrodite on the calyx but not the calyx.

(iii) Harald heard "...struggles of the guard and the tchukanisterion" (p. 173) - an Eastern Imperial term, obviously, but rather a long one.

(iv) Harald, imprisoned, "...thought of draugs and devils crawling from the earth." (p. 208) I have often thought of devils but never of draugs and my lap top does not recognize them either.

There may be more; I am still in mid-novel.

These words will be explained in dictionaries or on google and I leave it to the alert reader to track them down - unless, of course, you know already?


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I can explain what "themes" were in the Eastern Roman Empire off the top of my head. In the chaos of the 600's, when the Empire was nearly overwhelmed by barbarian invasions in the west and Balkans and by the Muslim Arabs in the east and south, the old administrative system set up by Diocletian of two separate and parallel civil and military spheres broke down. The Emperor Heraclius and his successors reorganized the Empire into a system where the provinces (now called "themes") were governed by military governors (called "strategoi") holding both civil and military powers. It was believed necessary to unite civil and military spheres into one to ensure quicker and more effective reaction to foreign attacks.

Btw, I'll be going to Hawaii Wednesday the 19th to visit my brother. I'll be away for two weeks. Just a heads up in case you wondered what happened to me!


Paul Shackley said...

Thank you and have a good tine in Hawaii.

I am still puzzled as to whether that use of the word "themes" connects in any way with its more familiar useages.