TF's Games from Folktales Podcast #4

Occurs to me I might as well ask podcast questions as separate topics.

In Games from Folktales podcast #4, TF asserts that the Order was a cult trained by a dragon. I seem to have missed that. Citation?

It was Ladon in The hesperides (Ancient Magic 100-102)


Ah. So it is a proposition.

Trianoma is sent to Bonisagus by a dragon in a cave in deepest Africa. This causes her to form the Order, as the dragon knew she would.

(I'd assume this isn't Ladon-in-the-Hesperides, but Ladon, the King of Soqotra, this dragon, and the dragon in Sunidata, and the Hydra-Nile are all doing the same thing: making cults of magicians. I think that pattern's odd and interesting. It might be they are all Aspects of the same thing, or it might be that this is just what dragons do, on a "why the big pile of treasure and the sleeping?" level.)

It makes the seal of the Order interestingly symbolic.

I've just rechecked the text in HoH:TL, and the dragon was in a Temple of Hesperides, beyond Ethiopia, tended by a Massilyan priestess.

So, um...yep, that's very Ladon-like. I didn't recall they had been that explicit. I'd argue that "beyond Ethiopia" means south, not west. The Hesperides are some minor Greek goddesses, but they might worship something similar in Warangia (the land that all the slaves come from).

I've checked the text description:

In short, the Thessalian sorceress Trianoma was subject to vision-dreams. In one, she fought with her sister, Veia, in a ring of fire while a powerful wizard stood by watching, climaxing in Trianoma killing her sister.

To seek the meaning of this vision, they quested, travelling (for entirely unclear reasons) to "beyond the limits of Ethiopia to the far end of the world" where they found a temple of Hesperides, guarded by a Massylian priestess, and a Dragon sleeping inside the temple. They woke the dragon and made sacrifices for interpretation of the vision. The Dragon sent them to the Alps, to find a cave, and the foundation of the Order proceeds from there.

The elements here are:

Temple of the Hesperides
Beyond Ethiopia to the far end of the world
Sleeping Dragon
Massylian Priestess

The Temple of Hesperides: The Hesperides are nymphs of the evening. Nymphs are not worshipped in general, so possibly this was a temple where Hesperides resided. Optionally, perhaps it was a temple to Hesperus the Evening Star, the son of Eos the Dawn. Optionally again, perhaps it was a solar temple from most ancient upper Egypt or earlier, and the term Hesperides was appended as an approximation. Criamon magi may decide that this is a reference to Twilight.

The phrase "beyond the limits of Ethiopia to the far end of the world" implies that they may well have gone far south to beyond Ethiopia into a regio. Perhaps this regio was coterminous with or connected to the Garden of the Hesperides. Why they went to that particular place is mysterious. Perhaps there were additional visions.

The Sleeping Dragon could not have been Ladon. Ladon's heads sleep in turn, but he is ever-awake. It may have been a manifestation of a dragon, possibly of a daimonic Greater Ladon, but not the one in the Garden of the West.

The Massylian Priestess is a neglected element. The Massilians were a Numidian tribe, from roughly the Atlas Mountains. That's consistent with a temple in the west, but perhaps she traveled to the far south, or perhaps her presence supports the co-location idea. The sisters apparently gained her trust, or possibly defeated her, or perhaps she welcomed them as foreseen visitors. This tribe was ancient; Perhaps she is immortal, a Faerie, or possibly there is a supporting population of Massylians, or some other reason this priestess continues to guard this temple.

So, somewhere deep in Africa, near or at the Torrid Zone or possibly beyond, there is a temple. It is guarded by a priestess, with a wise and far-seeing dragon.

Ah, thanks for this on the Massylians. I thought it meant Massilian (and yes, I know that's a word from about the 18th Century).

I'd note that if you want to go south from the Atlas, all you need do is follow the Nile regio (which rises in the Alps, mystically speaking).

These dragons seem to have a pattern going here: garden, tree, wisdom, a tribe, and often a woman.