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 Post subject: Helena
PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2010 7:36 am 
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Hi guys

How do you see the kingdom of Helena, could it be done anachronistically to be a classical Greek or Alexander and the successors. Wouldn't medieval greek make it byzantine?

I have graduate qualifications in ancient history, particulalry the roman east and classical and hellenistic greek, so Helena interests me.

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 Post subject: Re: Helena
PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:59 am 
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Hm, while working on the Seat of the Xanarian Empire my implicit assumptions were that the Empire is somehow comparable to the Byzantine Empire of the time from about 500 to 1000 AD, and also that there is a good deal of cultural proximity between Helena and Xanarium -- Helena was the first foreign region conquered by Xanarium, and probably one of the last to attain independence.

That said my own vision of Helena -- and this is nothing but a private vision -- is that it is a bit like Classical Greece with some elements of Byzantium strewn in -- mostly technology and religion. A loose confederation of city-states and island nations, sometimes at odds or even war with each other. Mostly proto-democracies, but with the odd oligarchic or autocratic regime strewn in. A broad middle-class ascribing to egalitarian values -- at least for their own socil stratum. Citizen-soldiers serving as infantry and as marines. Little to no feudal structures.

Something like that, I would have thought.

Along the above lines, the social developments of Venice come to mind as something to look into for Helena. Early medieval Venice was an Italian possession of Byzantium, but it even though it did initially share its early Byzantine culture and social system it did soon head down its own path and become an independent city-state and a republic. Early medieval Venice might serve as an inspiration to give a Helena mostly inspired by Classical Greece a unique twist.

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 Post subject: Re: Helena
PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2010 8:34 am 
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I really like your thinking, Ive spent some time reading your posts on Xanarium. I like the direction you've taken.

I have some initial thoughts about Helena. I think that Helena had a previous glorious past. I envisgae that the rise of the fourth moon sank quite a large amount of it leaving only a few islands. Subsequent defeat by the Xanarians 5 years later in a great naval battle led to the subjegation of the nation.

In culture whilst the Xanarians are great administrators and builders. Helenes aer great thinkers. They have a past history of philosophy, art mathematics, music and theatre.

Under Xanarian rule the Helenes learnt to be ship-builders and sailors.

The great theme of Helena is harping back to a past glory. Indpendance and nationalist movements have seen a return to old forms of worship, old forms of military tactics. A revivial of the Academy, Stoa and the theatre and democracy.
Fortunatley mass spear infantry is reasonably effective in a cavalry centred world and "modern" weapons and tactics are making Helenic infantry quite good. I would imagine both hoplites and phalangites with perhaps halberdeers or other pole armed infantry as well.

Their land is one of rolling plains so I would envisage a lot more cavalry than historic Greece.

The great thing they learnt under Xanarian rule is naval building and sailing. A venteian like navy of Lanteen Merchantmen and galleys would make them the trading nation from the core books.

Anyway those are some thoughts about Helena.

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 Post subject: Re: Helena
PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2010 3:55 pm 
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Valthalion wrote:
I think that Helena had a previous glorious past. I envisgae that the rise of the fourth moon sank quite a large amount of it leaving only a few islands. Subsequent defeat by the Xanarians 5 years later in a great naval battle led to the subjegation of the nation.

Concerning the early history of Helena you might want to have a look at what we have already established about, especialy the time between 350 and 450 Weyr.

The situation as I have envisaged it here is a take on the Punic Wars, with the “evil empire” of Tez’Hamun taking on the role of Carthage. Both Xanarium and Tez’Hamun clash over Helena, like Rome and Carthage clashed over (Greek) Sicily. The Helenans call in the culturally more compatible Xanarians to aid them against the encroachment of the culturally quite alien Tez’Hamunians – and the Xanarians win, but, having won, do not leave anymore.

D'you think you could work with that?

Valthalion wrote:
In culture whilst the Xanarians are great administrators and builders. Helenes aer great thinkers. They have a past history of philosophy, art mathematics, music and theatre.

I can totally see the many classical plays still performed in the Seat of the Xanarian Empire to be by Helenan playwrights, and many of the teachers at the Academia Xanaria still hailing from Helena. And philosophy also to be more at home (once again) in the free air of democratic Helena than in rather repressive Xanarium.

Valthalion wrote:
Indpendance and nationalist movements have seen a return to old forms of worship, old forms of military tactics.

Good idea – and it might well be the key to the independence of Helena from the Empire. The 13th century saw the collapse of the Empire, but with Helena being so very close to Xanarium geographically, the Emire might well have had an easier time retaining control of it than more remote regions. As the policies of the Empire became ever more heavy-handed, a Helenan counter-movement was born, winning over people’s hearts by an appeal to return to ancient glory, ancient equality (well, at least for a minority ;)) and ancient gods. Especially in a time when adhering to the Imperial Faith does not seem to do people any good, a conscious effort to return to the old ways, coupled to pronounced nationalistic sentiments, does not seem unrealistic in being actually successful.

I think one would have just to take care not to make Helenan culturally not too classical Greek, though.

Valthalion wrote:
The great thing they learnt under Xanarian rule is naval building and sailing.

Especially concerning Helena and nautical technology you might find it useful to read what Ian an myself discussed right here. The relevant part begins with the second post on that page.

So -- feel like claiming Helena? Personally, I'd be delighted if you would. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Helena
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:01 am 
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Grettir wrote:
Valthalion wrote:
I think that Helena had a previous glorious past. I envisage that the rise of the fourth moon sank quite a large amount of it leaving only a few islands. Subsequent defeat by the Xanarians 5 years later in a great naval battle led to the subjegation of the nation.

Concerning the early history of Helena you might want to have a look at what we have already established about, especialy the time between 350 and 450 Weyr.


The situation as I have envisaged it here is a take on the Punic Wars, with the “evil empire” of Tez’Hamun taking on the role of Carthage. Both Xanarium and Tez’Hamun clash over Helena, like Rome and Carthage clashed over (Greek) Sicily. The Helenans call in the culturally more compatible Xanarians to aid them against the encroachment of the culturally quite alien Tez’Hamunians – and the Xanarians win, but, having won, do not leave anymore.

D'you think you could work with that?

OK I can see where you are coming from. I'd like to posit that Helena had in antiquity a mini empire in the southern continent which they had been losing to the TezHamunians or had been in conflict with them for considerable time before the Xanarian's appeared on the scene. I like the idea that the Helenans are trying to resurrect an ancient glory. I know that the Xanarians are also, but it does work for Helena.
Grettir wrote:

Valthalion wrote:
In culture whilst the Xanarians are great administrators and builders. Helenes aer great thinkers. They have a past history of philosophy, art mathematics, music and theatre.

I can totally see the many classical plays still performed in the Seat of the Xanarian Empire to be by Helenan playwrights, and many of the teachers at the Academia Xanaria still hailing from Helena. And philosophy also to be more at home (once again) in the free air of democratic Helena than in rather repressive Xanarium.

Exactly what I had in mind the conflict between the past glory and the present reality. The way Jake wrote Helena they are neutral traders with a standing army. I really like the Venetian model, Helena is following a different approach to reconstruction than Xanarium one that is based on the difference of philosophy and political structure. Although I see internal strife between city states (rivalry might be better) There is a general unity against the outside world. Maybe those don't go together well, I'm not sure. I don't know that I want to make this a homily of democracy vs tyranny rather a place of new beginnings. The brother culture held back for so long now allowed to blossom again.
Grettir wrote:
Valthalion wrote:
Indpendance and nationalist movements have seen a return to old forms of worship, old forms of military tactics.

Good idea – and it might well be the key to the independence of Helena from the Empire. The 13th century saw the collapse of the Empire, but with Helena being so very close to Xanarium geographically, the Emire might well have had an easier time retaining control of it than more remote regions. As the policies of the Empire became ever more heavy-handed, a Helenan counter-movement was born, winning over people’s hearts by an appeal to return to ancient glory, ancient equality (well, at least for a minority ;)) and ancient gods. Especially in a time when adhering to the Imperial Faith does not seem to do people any good, a conscious effort to return to the old ways, coupled to pronounced nationalistic sentiments, does not seem unrealistic in being actually successful.

Yes I think that that does the job of explaining the impetus to change and the mechanism of change and the anachronism of the country.
(I got the idea from my studies of Greek language of the Roman period. Apart from the NT practically every author writes in a pseudo classical greek although clearly everyone spoke koine greek.)
Quote:

I think one would have just to take care not to make Helenan culturally not too classical Greek, though.

I agree, my thought is to use a sort of classical model [with low naval and better cavalry] as a far off ancient beginning, then put on top of that 800 years of Xanarium, then an attempt at a romanticised and misunderstood remaking, with a vision of sea/trading empire.
Grettir wrote:
Valthalion wrote:
The great thing they learnt under Xanarian rule is naval building and sailing.

Especially concerning Helena and nautical technology you might find it useful to read what Ian an myself discussed right here. The relevant part begins with the second post on that page.


I think a Venetian model works nicely. Lanteen (is that right?) rigged ships. Large galleys and merchantmen. But I particularly like the Venetian concept of strong merchantmen. The merchantmen that can fight. I think Helena would really suit that and that would give a truly post classical, but mediteranean feel.

Grettir wrote:
So -- feel like claiming Helena? Personally, I'd be delighted if you would. :)


I am thinking of it seriously, but I don't want to commit then do a half hearted job. So I'll plod away with some ideas for a while. The Venetians have got my creative mind sparking so that might end up being a table top campaign yet.

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 Post subject: Re: Helena
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 6:22 am 
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Valthalion wrote:
I'd like to posit that Helena had in antiquity a mini empire in the southern continent which they had been losing to the TezHamunians or had been in conflict with them for considerable time before the Xanarian's appeared on the scene. I like the idea that the Helenans are trying to resurrect an ancient glory. I know that the Xanarians are also, but it does work for Helena.

Well my own “theme“ for the Seat of the Xanarian Empire isn’t so much returning to glory but rather clinging on to lost glory entirely living off and in the past. For now, it’s still working, but it isn’t going to work forever. Come to think of it, it reminds me a bit of Moorcock’s Melniboné, or the mid-20th-century United Kingdom, Moorcock’s inspiration for Melniboné.

But do you actually want some kind of mini-Empire for Helena? It would be entirely your call, of course, but don’t you think that “mere” cultural superiority would work better for your idea of artistic and philosophical excellence? I mean, 5th century Greece was more powerful than suggested by its size, but even though the catchword of the “Athenian Empire” can sometimes be heard, I would hardly regard it as a proper empire.

What do you think about casting ancient Tez’Hamun further into the role of an “evil empire” by also having it take on the role of the Achaimenid Empire? Let’s say the Tez’Hamunian’s empire goes back to the very days of Xanar Shardfinder, and even predates them, a remnant of an older, somehow more sinsiter planet. Maybe in the later 1st century Weyr, it was reaching out towards Helena. First, it occupied mainland Helena, and then it moved against the islands. The island Helenans fought them off like the Greeks fought off the Persians, and then they formed some part of confederation to actually carry the fight to the Tez’Hamunians and liberate the mainland Helenans. Casting the Helenan island in the role of the Greek motherland and mainland Helena in the role of the Ionian Greeks, so to speak. The unity created by the defence against a common enemy was the time of Helena’s greatness, not only politically, but also, and maybe primarily, culturally.

But even though the Helenans were brave, they were also given to squabbling among themselves, and once the Tez’Hamunian seemed well fought-off and the threat posed by them appeared less real, the Tez’Hamunians were able to exploit this by setting up one city-state against the other, often by the use of massive bribes and subsidies. The unity of Helena fell to pieces, and after some two centuries of a Helenan “golden age”, Tez’Hamun was able to make good its losses and to once again go on the offensive. At about that time, by about 350 Weyr or shortly thereafter, Xanarium was drawn into the conflict.

What do you think of this outline?

Valthalion wrote:
I got the idea from my studies of Greek language of the Roman period. Apart from the NT practically every author writes in a pseudo classical greek although clearly everyone spoke koine greek.

Yeah, in Imperial Roman times, there was a clear literary trend back towards pure, classical Attic Greek; there were ven encyclopedias listing all the words to be found in the works of the classical Attic writers, which could be – and were – perused to make sure that one did not even use a single word not attested with an Attic writer. I remember to have read of some Roman-time Greek writer with the nickname ketos ou’ketos, meaning “it is attested – it is not attested”; obviously, it was something he was given to saying all the time, obsessively mad about checking his own and other people’s use of language.

Unfortunately, this obsession with Attic Greek did also mean that the writers of the Hellenistic koine were ill-regarded, as if they had written in pidgin English. Consequently, their “inferior” works were not handed down through the centuries, meaning that a full three hundred years of Greek literature are practically missing in its entirety – and that we know much, much less about Hellenistic Greece than about the earlier classical and the later Roman period. :cry:

But I’m sure you know this anyway, I’m just writing it for the benefit – or more probably annoyance :P – of anybody else reading this.

Valthalion wrote:
Lanteen (is that right?) rigged ships.

Erm, no. It’s Lateen rig, derived from Latin. It is a term coined in early medieval middle and northern Europe to denote the triangular sails used in the Mediterranean by peoples who spoke Latin or languages derived from it.

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 Post subject: Re: Helena
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 7:36 am 
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Grettir wrote:
Valthalion wrote:
I'd like to posit that Helena had in antiquity a mini empire in the southern continent which they had been losing to the TezHamunians or had been in conflict with them for considerable time before the Xanarian's appeared on the scene. I like the idea that the Helenans are trying to resurrect an ancient glory. I know that the Xanarians are also, but it does work for Helena.

Well my own “theme“ for the Seat of the Xanarian Empire isn’t so much returning to glory but rather clinging on to lost glory entirely living off and in the past. For now, it’s still working, but it isn’t going to work forever. Come to think of it, it reminds me a bit of Moorcock’s Melniboné, or the mid-20th-century United Kingdom, Moorcock’s inspiration for Melniboné.

But do you actually want some kind of mini-Empire for Helena? It would be entirely your call, of course, but don’t you think that “mere” cultural superiority would work better for your idea of artistic and philosophical excellence? I mean, 5th century Greece was more powerful than suggested by its size, but even though the catchword of the “Athenian Empire” can sometimes be heard, I would hardly regard it as a proper empire.


I must admit I was thinking more of Alexander and the Succesors. Not so much the conquests but Greek culture from Ionia to India. And also the colonisation of earlier times. I just liked the idea of Helenic ruins dotting the landscape of southern Weryth and cities built on Helenic sites , with converted Helenic temples or ruins of them. But the empire is gone and the Xanarians have ruled, and the memory of past glory and culture is stirred up.
One lasting impact of Greece's culture was its spread throughout the East. If I remember rightly that they found copies of Euripedes in greek colonies in the extreme East of Alexander's empire. Practically everyone in the east spoke Greek. (Hence the Greek New Testament)

Now I think about it something occured to me about making fantasy worlds, that I had never thought of before. Isn't it curious that the last bastion of Roman and Greek culture really was Byzantium. Which covered an area that neither the Greeks nor the Roman's really came from originally. Sure it covered Greece, but it was centred away from their homelands. Ask people who have some idea about Rome and many would say that the Roman empire fell in the 5th century, but it didn't really. The Byzantines thought of themselves as Rome and there is no break in their history from Rome, they just lost the West.
The thought is this. We tend to make worlds with nation states and cultures that are fixed areas. Yet when we look at ancient history, people movement plays a much bigger part. We end up with isolated pockets of different cultures, which evolve into something different eventually like the Galatians for example. Gauls who lived in southern Turkey. I suppose the post classical dark ages was a big time for this. Looking at a map of Byzantium, there were times when they had isolated provinces all over the place. Its almost like we should have a little totally Xanarian nation halfway to the Eastern part of Weyrth. (Like Romania for example)

Happens now too, people say about Bermuda, its more British (in culture) than Britain. There can be a lot of stagnation of culture in isolation.

Grettir wrote:
What do you think about casting ancient Tez’Hamun further into the role of an “evil empire” by also having it take on the role of the Achaimenid Empire? Let’s say the Tez’Hamunian’s empire goes back to the very days of Xanar Shardfinder, and even predates them, a remnant of an older, somehow more sinsiter planet. Maybe in the later 1st century Weyr, it was reaching out towards Helena. First, it occupied mainland Helena, and then it moved against the islands. The island Helenans fought them off like the Greeks fought off the Persians, and then they formed some part of confederation to actually carry the fight to the Tez’Hamunians and liberate the mainland Helenans. Casting the Helenan island in the role of the Greek motherland and mainland Helena in the role of the Ionian Greeks, so to speak. The unity created by the defence against a common enemy was the time of Helena’s greatness, not only politically, but also, and maybe primarily, culturally.

But even though the Helenans were brave, they were also given to squabbling among themselves, and once the Tez’Hamunian seemed well fought-off and the threat posed by them appeared less real, the Tez’Hamunians were able to exploit this by setting up one city-state against the other, often by the use of massive bribes and subsidies. The unity of Helena fell to pieces, and after some two centuries of a Helenan “golden age”, Tez’Hamun was able to make good its losses and to once again go on the offensive. At about that time, by about 350 Weyr or shortly thereafter, Xanarium was drawn into the conflict.

What do you think of this outline?


I do like it.

My first thought was now then came a great general who took hold of the Helenes and handed to his young son a new army with new tactics and he conquered half of southern Weryth, and then died and his succesors warred for generations ....

But it isn't really necessary everything we need for the world to be as it is there. If the war was won and then the Helenes pushed the Tez Hamun back into southern weyrth for a while so that they made a stamp on the landscape that would be great.
Grettir wrote:
Valthalion wrote:
I got the idea from my studies of Greek language of the Roman period. Apart from the NT practically every author writes in a pseudo classical greek although clearly everyone spoke koine greek.

Yeah, in Imperial Roman times, there was a clear literary trend back towards pure, classical Attic Greek; there were ven encyclopedias listing all the words to be found in the works of the classical Attic writers, which could be – and were – perused to make sure that one did not even use a single word not attested with an Attic writer. I remember to have read of some Roman-time Greek writer with the nickname ketos ou’ketos, meaning “it is attested – it is not attested”; obviously, it was something he was given to saying all the time, obsessively mad about checking his own and other people’s use of language.

Unfortunately, this obsession with Attic Greek did also mean that the writers of the Hellenistic koine were ill-regarded, as if they had written in pidgin English. Consequently, their “inferior” works were not handed down through the centuries, meaning that a full three hundred years of Greek literature are practically missing in its entirety – and that we know much, much less about Hellenistic Greece than about the earlier classical and the later Roman period. :cry:
But I’m sure you know this anyway, I’m just writing it for the benefit – or more probably annoyance :P – of anybody else reading this.

;)
As another aside I'm having a meeting this week about starting a postgrad program in Hellenistic Greek. That's why I'm being a bit reticent about time at the moment.


Grettir wrote:
Valthalion wrote:
Lanteen (is that right?) rigged ships.

Erm, no. It’s Lateen rig, derived from Latin. It is a term coined in early medieval middle and northern Europe to denote the triangular sails used in the Mediterranean by peoples who spoke Latin or languages derived from it.

I just kept staring at that word, the spelling seemed wrong but I couldn't work out why.

:lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Helena
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:08 am 
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Valthalion wrote:
My first thought was now then came a great general who took hold of the Helenes and handed to his young son a new army with new tactics and he conquered half of southern Weryth, and then died and his succesors warred for generations ....

But it isn't really necessary everything we need for the world to be as it is there. If the war was won and then the Helenes pushed the Tez Hamun back into southern weyrth for a while so that they made a stamp on the landscape that would be great.

Think of Ionia and Cyprus reclaimed from the Persians. Of Xenophon and his Anabasis. Of the Greek expeditions into Egypt to aid the national Egyptian uprising and to open up a second front against the Achaimenids. :D I think you can achieve your greatness without an Alexander-figure. It might even be easier for modern, classically-democratic Helenans to identify with their glorious past if it wasn’t the glorious past of one man and his achievements but the achievements of a people.

And personally, I’d prefer the Helenan “empire” not to have been one of massive (though short-lived) conquest but rather one of far-flung military expeditions and culture. Southwestern Weyrth may otherwise be a bit crowded with empires. :lol:

Valthalion wrote:
One lasting impact of Greece's culture was its spread throughout the East. If I remember rightly that they found copies of Euripedes in greek colonies in the extreme East of Alexander's empire. Practically everyone in the east spoke Greek. (Hence the Greek New Testament)

The cultural impact must not be overestimated. The spread of Hellenistic culture in Hellenism is much much more a matter of the Greeks spreading themselves (thinly) out over the world and everywhere becoming the local upper class than the world’s peoples actually adopting Greek culture. Sure, the native upper classes did as well – sidling up with their new masters and all that, you know. And even though Greek influences were felt long after the end of Hellenism in places as far as India, the actual suffusion of these lands with Greek culture remained only skin-deep. Once the Greeks were not masters of the East anymore, the East quickly returned to its old ways – quite unlike the Roman culture (which did of course also contain many adopted Greek elements), which did did prove much more resilient and deeply ingrained in the people even long after the fall of the Roman Empire.

But still, at least the Hellenistic elites (if they were not ethnic Greeks themselves) adopted a degree of Greek culture and definitely knew Greek as a second language. In pre-Roman times it was the language for international commerce, and it remained so in the east at least until 1000 AD.

Valthalion wrote:
Now I think about it something occured to me about making fantasy worlds, that I had never thought of before. Isn't it curious that the last bastion of Roman and Greek culture really was Byzantium. Which covered an area that neither the Greeks nor the Roman's really came from originally. Sure it covered Greece, but it was centred away from their homelands. Ask people who have some idea about Rome and many would say that the Roman empire fell in the 5th century, but it didn't really. The Byzantines thought of themselves as Rome and there is no break in their history from Rome, they just lost the West.
The thought is this. We tend to make worlds with nation states and cultures that are fixed areas. Yet when we look at ancient history, people movement plays a much bigger part. We end up with isolated pockets of different cultures, which evolve into something different eventually like the Galatians for example. Gauls who lived in southern Turkey. I suppose the post classical dark ages was a big time for this. Looking at a map of Byzantium, there were times when they had isolated provinces all over the place. Its almost like we should have a little totally Xanarian nation halfway to the Eastern part of Weyrth. (Like Romania for example)

This has very little to do with Helena, but as it is currently only the two of us conversing here…

Modern people really need to understand – and maybe none of your teachers has yet pointed this out to you that the territorial nation is a modern invention. In ancient times, there were only peoples’ nations. That’s why it is entirely possible – and indeed even commonplace – for originally “foreign” families to live in the area of a certain nation for generations and still not acquire citizenship. A nation wasn’t defined by a territory, it was defined by a people. If you were of this people, you were part of the nation, if you were not of this people, you were not part of this nation – it didn’t matter one whit that you and your ancestors might be living in the region for ages.

That’s where there are no nations of “Seleukia” or “Athinaia” or “Romania” – it is never “the land of Athinai”, only ever the “land of the people of Athinai”. Heck, even Macedon was only a geographical territorial term, never a political one; Alexander the Great and the kings before and after him termed themselves basileus ton Makedonon, king of the Macedons, never king of Macedonia. And if you look at any coin struck or inscription set up by any ancient king you will invariably find him calling himself “king of this and that people” never “king of this and that land”.

In view of that it becomes easy to see how an entire nation could in ancient times be transplanted from one place to another. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Helena
PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:23 am 
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Grettir wrote:
Think of Ionia and Cyprus reclaimed from the Persians. Of Xenophon and his Anabasis. Of the Greek expeditions into Egypt to aid the national Egyptian uprising and to open up a second front against the Achaimenids. :D I think you can achieve your greatness without an Alexander-figure. It might even be easier for modern, classically-democratic Helenans to identify with their glorious past if it wasn’t the glorious past of one man and his achievements but the achievements of a people.

And personally, I’d prefer the Helenan “empire” not to have been one of massive (though short-lived) conquest but rather one of far-flung military expeditions and culture. Southwestern Weyrth may otherwise be a bit crowded with empires. :lol:


When I think about it, with the Xanarian's fielding pike infantry, the attraction to Alexander is really diminished. It was really about the idea of reviving an anachronism that turned out to be a reasonably good idea. Whatever Helena has become it is in reaction to the Xanarian system with some idealised anachronisms, some Xanarian influence and some kind of new direction.

This would mean some throwback to classical kind of idea, some Romano/Byzantine and some Venetian influence I think.

Morally speaking I am more comfortable with the eleutheria loving greeks fighting off the Tez Hamun than the world domination of Alexander, although it doesn't concern me that several empires have existed in southern weyrth over time. That is quite possible, Israel was ruled by themselves, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, (themsleves again) and then the Romans over about 700 years.


Grettir wrote:
The cultural impact must not be overestimated. The spread of Hellenistic culture in Hellenism is much much more a matter of the Greeks spreading themselves (thinly) out over the world and everywhere becoming the local upper class than the world’s peoples actually adopting Greek culture. Sure, the native upper classes did as well – sidling up with their new masters and all that, you know. And even though Greek influences were felt long after the end of Hellenism in places as far as India, the actual suffusion of these lands with Greek culture remained only skin-deep. Once the Greeks were not masters of the East anymore, the East quickly returned to its old ways – quite unlike the Roman culture (which did of course also contain many adopted Greek elements), which did did prove much more resilient and deeply ingrained in the people even long after the fall of the Roman Empire.

But still, at least the Hellenistic elites (if they were not ethnic Greeks themselves) adopted a degree of Greek culture and definitely knew Greek as a second language. In pre-Roman times it was the language for international commerce, and it remained so in the east at least until 1000 AD.


Well there was cultural tension in Roman times at least in Judea between the Judeans and the Hellenised Judeans. (Not the Romanized Judeans) But your point is well taken. I wouldn't think there was too much Greek influence in Bactria for example.

Grettir wrote:
Modern people really need to understand – and maybe none of your teachers has yet pointed this out to you that the territorial nation is a modern invention. In ancient times, there were only peoples’ nations. That’s why it is entirely possible – and indeed even commonplace – for originally “foreign” families to live in the area of a certain nation for generations and still not acquire citizenship. A nation wasn’t defined by a territory, it was defined by a people. If you were of this people, you were part of the nation, if you were not of this people, you were not part of this nation – it didn’t matter one whit that you and your ancestors might be living in the region for ages.


Sure I understood the people nation part and people movement. It is a widespread ancient phenomenon. You are right though the difference is that we see nations as geographical. So our fantasy worlds tend to have geographical boundaries rather than people boundaries. Food for thought for my next fantasy world. (Not that I intend to make one :lol: )

My other thought though was as empires to and fro, and people groups send out colonists. We end up with more of a hodgepodge of people groups around, rather than one strategic entity. Not that I expressed it terribly clearly.

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 Post subject: Re: Helena
PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 8:59 am 
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Valthalion wrote:
Morally speaking I am more comfortable with the eleutheria loving greeks fighting off the Tez Hamun than the world domination of Alexander, although it doesn't concern me that several empires have existed in southern weyrth over time. That is quite possible, Israel was ruled by themselves, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, (themsleves again) and then the Romans over about 700 years.

Ah, I was worrying that you were thinking of long-lived empires. From Core, I have somehow derived the vision that the time predating the rise of the second moon (1 Weyr) is practically entirely legendary a very sinister and pre-historic, antedulivian age of which nothing but legends are known. Tez’Hamun, in Core described as evil and ancient and quite alien, seemed to me a perfect candidate for being the single realm actually predating the current, modern age – which imo would also fit perfectly with the Egyptian theme of Tez’Hamun, as Egypt has just this very strange and very ancient air in our own world. Regarding this – previously private and unshared – vision of mine I was of course a bit worried about squeezing a number of actual “empires” into the south of Weyrth in the less than 500 years available from the very beginnings of recorded history and the coming of the Xanarians.

But an Alexander-like blaze of glory, a short-lived monstrous conquest crumbling immediately after the conqueror’s death would certainly fit even my vision, as would any other kind of short-lived empire. Personally, though, I’d be more enamored of the idea of Helenan greatness (and conquest) along the lines of Greece in the 5th century – I think it is more unique and has been done less often in fantasy than the “great conqueror” – shtick. Still, this is of course only a personal preference, not anything that I would present as somehow “superior” to another concept, and certainly nothing to limit a prospective developer of Helena.

Valthalion wrote:
You are right though the difference is that we see nations as geographical. So our fantasy worlds tend to have geographical boundaries rather than people boundaries. Food for thought for my next fantasy world. (Not that I intend to make one :lol: )

My other thought though was as empires to and fro, and people groups send out colonists. We end up with more of a hodgepodge of people groups around, rather than one strategic entity. Not that I expressed it terribly clearly.

Ah, I see now what you meant. Does that mean that you envisage still some isolated, far-flung pockets of Helena culture to be found everywhere, or rather that traces of Helenan heritage can sometimes be discovered in even far-flung locales?

Valthalion wrote:
Well there was cultural tension in Roman times at least in Judea between the Judeans and the Hellenised Judeans. (Not the Romanized Judeans)

Absolutely. And the situation was, if anything, even more aggravated in the huge Jewish community of Alexandria. An edict by Emperor Claudius, extant on papyrus, throws a spotlight on one of these cultural struggles: Apparently, a good portion of the young men of well-to-do Jewish families were attending the gymnasia of Alexandria, something that both the more conservative Jews and the Greeks resented mightily.

But the Hellenisation of the eastern part of the Roman Empire has to be seen differently from the Hellenisation of Asia further east. By the time of Augustus, any Greek-Roman cultural antagonism was finally coming to an end, and Rome began actually to act as a kind of patron to Greek culture – a culture too strong (and also too proud) to adopt the Roman culture in the way the “barbarian” West of the Empire did. Under Roman patronage, Greek culture in the East flourished as it had done during the time of Hellenism.

And sure, the real power lay with the ethnic Romans, but the ethnic Romans held only the top-level positions in provincial administration, quite a distance away from the common people. Local self-government of the cities was still in the hands of the old elites, though – and these elites were (at least culturally) mostly Greek, and remained so, as they eschewed adopting the – to them – inferior Roman culture. The local upper-class in the East during the time of the Roman Empire remained thus largely unaltered from Hellenistic times, and it was this local elite that was emulated by local people.

This is the main reason why the West of the Empire was Romanized, whereas the East wasn’t. The East continued to be (superficially) Greek, and as this went on for century after century, right into the Byzantine period, Greek culture did eventually sink in deeper than just skin-deep.

This would quite possibly eventually have happened in Persia and Afghanistan as well – if Greek dominance over these regions had lasted.

Valthalion wrote:
I wouldn't think there was too much Greek influence in Bactria for example.

Indeed – Bactria started out quite well, with a good number of Geek and Macedon settlers constituting a local elite of Greek culture, like for instance in Syria as well, but the region’s very remoteness did in the end prove its undoing. It just did not receive enough settlers from the motherland, and intermittent antagonism with the Seleucids did practically isolate them totally from the entire Greek world…

Still, are you aware of Ai Khanoum? It’s just one of quite a high number of such places that are to be expected for Hellenistic Bactria.

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 Post subject: Re: Helena
PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:09 am 
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Grettir wrote:

Ah, I was worrying that you were thinking of long-lived empires. From Core, I have somehow derived the vision that the time predating the rise of the second moon (1 Weyr) is practically entirely legendary a very sinister and pre-historic, antedulivian age of which nothing but legends are known. Tez’Hamun, in Core described as evil and ancient and quite alien, seemed to me a perfect candidate for being the single realm actually predating the current, modern age – which imo would also fit perfectly with the Egyptian theme of Tez’Hamun, as Egypt has just this very strange and very ancient air in our own world. Regarding this – previously private and unshared – vision of mine I was of course a bit worried about squeezing a number of actual “empires” into the south of Weyrth in the less than 500 years available from the very beginnings of recorded history and the coming of the Xanarians.

Empire is a very ambiguous term isn't it. Politics is spin.
Alexander loses his shine if the Xanarian's are fielding pike infantry. The political situation of the Persian Wars as background I like better. The empire is not necessary or even palatable. What is going to make it interesting, is the culture. I think there is a real counterpoint in the Persian wars, with the Greek view of freedom (for free males only :cry: ) verses the "oriental" view of submission. That could resonate strongly in the throwing off of the Xanarians.

I think that's what attracted me to Helena in the first place the idea of it being so different from the normal fantasy north european dark ages/medieval. The character I posted on the boards is a very old one of mine, but I was definately thinking, classical.

I am so inspired by looking at Byzantium/Venetian I think I'll be running a campaign based around the mediteranean.

Grettir wrote:
Does that mean that you envisage still some isolated, far-flung pockets of Helena culture to be found everywhere, or rather that traces of Helenan heritage can sometimes be discovered in even far-flung locales?


No it was an aside. I can see how it would be confusing to fantasy readers and role players, but it would be more realisitic. But I really want to stick to Jake's vision/map.

I think that a distribution of Helenic philosophy and literature might be a way to go. When was the printing press invented? I mean part of the rennaisance was discovery again of classical literature wasn't it? The spread of trade and philosophy and culture might cause some interesting conflicts with the church. Were probably a bit early for the renaisance though I suppose.


Grettir wrote:
Valthalion wrote:
I wouldn't think there was too much Greek influence in Bactria for example.

Indeed – Bactria started out quite well, with a good number of Geek and Macedon settlers constituting a local elite of Greek culture, like for instance in Syria as well, but the region’s very remoteness did in the end prove its undoing. It just did not receive enough settlers from the motherland, and intermittent antagonism with the Seleucids did practically isolate them totally from the entire Greek world…

Sorry its not my normal practice to make an issue of typing errors, but I did get quite a giggle from imagining Bactria, with vast mountains and valleys greek temples and Geek settlers, with their thick glasses and blackberries and abacuses. :lol:

Grettir wrote:
Still, are you aware of Ai Khanoum? It’s just one of quite a high number of such places that are to be expected for Hellenistic Bactria.

I do remember it from Greek Archaeology. I think that was where they found the manuscript or inscription of Euripides I mentioned before, if not it was around that area. But its been a while.

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 Post subject: Re: Helena
PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 3:40 am 
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Valthalion wrote:
I think that a distribution of Helenic philosophy and literature might be a way to go. When was the printing press invented? I mean part of the rennaisance was discovery again of classical literature wasn't it? The spread of trade and philosophy and culture might cause some interesting conflicts with the church. Were probably a bit early for the renaisance though I suppose.


I looked in the technology thread and the printing press was not yet invented. So I answered my own question.

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 Post subject: Re: Helena
PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 8:15 am 
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Valthalion wrote:
Alexander loses his shine if the Xanarian's are fielding pike infantry. The political situation of the Persian Wars as background I like better. The empire is not necessary or even palatable. What is going to make it interesting, is the culture. I think there is a real counterpoint in the Persian wars, with the Greek view of freedom (for free males only :cry: ) verses the "oriental" view of submission. That could resonate strongly in the throwing off of the Xanarians.

I think that could work admirably well. In the seven, eight centuries of Xanarian domination, the Helenans are bound to reconcile themselves with being part of the Empire, and to even feel proud and patriotic about it. But then the Empire fell on hard times, and taxes were increased and civic freedom increasingly curtailed. The Helenans were becoming fed up and for the first time since the generations after the conquest perceived the Xanarians as foreign oppressors. This is certainly a fertile atmosphere for a nationalistic movement singing the praise of ancient freedom and ancient greatness – and ancient gods. :)

And it is any case not something that has already been done to death.

Valthalion wrote:
Sorry its not my normal practice to make an issue of typing errors, but I did get quite a giggle from imagining Bactria, with vast mountains and valleys greek temples and Geek settlers, with their thick glasses and blackberries and abacuses. :lol:

Hah! It is funny, I grant you that! :lol:

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