Monday, 24 February 2014
In our history, the Egyptian god Amun was called Zeus Ammon by the Greeks, Jupiter Ammon by the Romans and Amon by the Hebrews.
In the alternative history of Poul Anderson's "Delenda Est," in about 100 BC, Germanic tribes invaded Italy which in the twentieth century is called Cimberland and at that time its most powerful deity is Wotan Ammon. Thus, this name, mentioned only once in the story, is not a mere arbitrary juxtaposition invented by Anderson but is a logical extrapolation of the religion in a timeline where Wotan-worshipers had conquered Jupiter-worshipers and had then identified their chief deity with the important Egyptian Amun.
The twentieth century is polytheist. Not only did the destruction of the Romans by the Carthaginians (instead of vice versa) enable Germanic tribes to conquer Italy, it also enabled the Syrians, unopposed by the Romans, to suppress the Maccabees. Hence, no Judaism or Christianity. Prophetic monotheism excludes other gods whereas a different kind of inclusive monotheism can grow out of Paganism:
"'The more educated people think that there is a Great Baal who made all the lesser gods...'" (p. 195)
This is more like the Hindu approach. Recognition of the great Baal is compatible with maintaining the ancient cults and with respecting the more powerful foreign gods: "'Best not to chance their anger.'" (ibid.)
Respect other people's gods, yes. Fear their anger, no. Tibetan Buddhists have a story about one of their founding monks taming the local gods. Thus, the gods can still be there but should no longer be feared.