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Orlanthi imagery, real world Bronze Age peoples


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3 hours ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

the tocharians were buddhist and we have no evidence of any pre-buddhist religious practices except for pre-oasis settlement steppes burials including marijuana and ephedra: no imagery or real sense of a caste system

The Indo-Europeans share a lot with the Yelmic culture of Glorantha, with less patriarchal and less solar expressions notable exceptions. Some weak memory migration history corresponding to archaeological finds of the banded ceramics (formerly battle ax) material culture is narrated in Snorri's Heimskringla, and tells of the encounter of the migrating patriarchal folk (the Aesir) with an indigenous and apparently much less patriarchal group (the Vanir). They exchange hostages/cultural influences, then migrate onward.

Some of the names used by Snorri are similar to those of antique travelogues into the barbarian lands (like Nerthus for the Kimbrian peninsula, resonating with Njörd). Whatever traditions were available to him must have reached at least a millennium back, possibly three. (Nobody complains about the Kalevala being collected at least a millennium after the earliest events in that mythic cycle, so what is the problem with Snorri?)


Oh? That's one of the words that doesn't seem weird, I use that word in real life.

It screams archaism and Anglo-Saxon to me. Starting with the spelling.

It doesn't help that German has "Heim und Herd" (home and hearth), one of the many Germanic phrases poisoned by NS propaganda.

(Also, there is the misogynistic "Heimchen am Herd", the homely and subservient wife at the cooking fire.)


I agree with king, it's wrong. chief is not good either, i'd prefer chieftain to chief. but actually I'd prefer "leader". I'd like Orlanth to be less "we're German tribes" and more "we are akin to Bronze-Age tribes like the IE tribes". 

That would make the Orlanthi a Solar culture, really. The IE chief god tends to be celestial, and sun/sky worship is pretty much synonymous with Bronze Age culture pretty much everywhere. The Germanic/Norse pantheon is somewhat weird in having the Yogi/mystic as the chief deity and a great fondness for the Storm god.

Dyaus-Pitar is Yelm in his various appearances. Ancient European chief gods include Zeus Pater, Dispater, Jupiter. Norse Tyr was the much reduced form of this sky deity. The Fertile Crescent had Bel/Baal (which somehow turns up in the Celtic pantheon, too), and the Iranians and Vedic Indians have precedence of the sky and light god, too. All early Bronze Age symbolism has the sun dominant.

Acceptance of Storm as the most important of the gods is rather rare. Some storm accoutrements are really sky accoutrements, like lightning. No difference between Earth and Glorantha there.

Rebellion against the giant precursor generation of the gods is a common theme in European myths, whether the titans or the original giant. The war against the giants as an ongoing or defining feat of the gods is another typical myth, whether in Ragnarök or in the Mahabarata.


Mesopotamia has God-kings, or divine descended kings. If we want to look outside of the IE culture, the Canaanite hill folk which emerged after the Egyptian empire retreated to its core lands led by their biblical judges (including Samson) might be the best guess at the Orlanthi I can find. Almost all of the other cultures required proto-urban cooperation and administration to maintain their agriculture, like irrigation or other such communal water works. Where such massive communal works wasn't reqired beyond some shared holy places (henges and similar), a way more individualistic and small-unit organized culture dominated. Not even to the level of the ship-kings/city tyrants of the Iliad.


Occasional leaders - possibly only exceptional ones - could muster warriors and weapon bearers in the hundreds. We have one evidence for such a battle, the Tollense crossing, with a southern army taken from all around southern Germany attacking native defenders (at least that's the story told by the chemistry of their teeth). Both sides were equipped with similar amounts of bronze and non-bronze (stone) weaponry. The attackers appear to have included mounted horsemen. If the defenders had horses, none appear to have perished in the battle.

The casualties from this battle suggest a social structure rather similar to that of the Orlanthi, with free carls as part-time warriors, and a noble and specialist core of mounted warriors with superior equipment.

Similar horsemanship in the Fertile crescent appears to have cropped up with the Iron Age, with chariots dominating earlier conflicts (contemporary to the battle of Tollense crossing, like Megiddo or Khadesh, and the invasion of the Sea Peoples).

The only place where we can ascertain such cultures is north and west of the Fertile Crescent and the Aegaean.

The protagonists of the Iliad are more similar to the sonse and sons-in-law of Vingkot, with divine birthright determining the right to kingship. With the Heortlings, traces of this divine birth-right are still there in potentia, but it doesn't play much of a role since the destruction of the Kodigvari by their own spouses. The Heortlings are a post-cataclysmic culture. The horse-nomads are, too, but they adopt the pre-cataclysmic greatness of their subjects, and become vulnerable through that as they simultaneously attempt to maintain their superior purity.

The outcome of Argentium Thri'ile may not have been inevitable, but a horse warlord victory wouldn't have ended that war.


Musing more about the Orlanthi, I have some difficulties identifying the emergence of the clan as the recognized unit of population. All the survival places in the Guide are tribal, not clan-based. There is little evidence of the clan as political unit in the conflicts between Rastalulf of the Berennethtelli and Lokamayadon. While Haradangian is presented as a chieftain, he is chieftain of the Berennethtelli. Rastalulf is at first a mere stead-master, after his service with the King of the Heortlings he is a chieftain. (Still no clans mentioned, though, only individual leaders and kin, and carl followers.)

Population density appears to have been a lot lower than in modern Glorantha. Given the very small starting populations, not that surprising, really.


By Harmast's time, population appears to have doubled or so compared to Rastalulf's time, despite Lokamayadon's iron grip on initiation and the connected losses. I still don't recall references to clans by other terms than their chiefs, though, but I may be overlooking them.

By the time Orlanthland is founded, the clan may have taken on an identity beyond that of the immediate chieftain. Kinship rules no longer apply to the tribes, but to smaller subdivisions of the tribes. Marriage relationships get likewise downgraded. Taking wives from within one's own tribe becomes normal.

Cities pop into existence, outside of Esrolia. Kings die without successors, and instead a hierarchy of priests fills all the council seats of the Heortlings (though apparently not with the non-Heortlings of Saird and further west).

Only with the spread of the Alakoring Rex cult do we get Orlanthi business as usual.

Telling how it is excessive verbis


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42 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Rebellion against the giant precursor generation of the gods is a common theme in European myths, whether the titans or the original giant. The war against the giants as an ongoing or defining feat of the gods is another typical myth, whether in Ragnarök or in the Mahabarata.


Minor point, but the Norse jötnar were not actually gigantic - at least not as a common descriptor, though they did have gigantic members (Ymir being the primal example of course, while we also have monstrous members like Jormundgandr and magically-transformed individuals like Utgard-Loki. Most Jötnar, however, appear pretty much entirely humanoid, down to size, it seems).

This misconception was intensified when English-language translators (iirc) looked for a suitable term, and ended up using the Greek geantes/gigantes, more because of the shared theme of enmity (which we also find in Indian mythology with the Vedas and Asuras, etc, though this is not my forte).

The proper etymology of jötunr appears to be something along the lines of "devourer". Its significance, origin, and wider thematic meaning is, to the best of my knowledge, unknown.

Edited by Sir_Godspeed
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4 hours ago, Joerg said:

The Indo-Europeans share a lot with the Yelmic culture of Glorantha, with less patriarchal and less solar expressions notable exceptions.

Oh! I was talking about clothing and dress and armour and the like, not mythology at all when I mentioned "like IEs". I meant I'd like them to read a lot less like Celt-Vikings.

Your points are interesting and I'll come back to them when I have time to digest them. (Busy day.)

3 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

The proper etymology of jötunr appears to be something along the lines of "devourer".

it is from Common Germanic *etunaz, English ettin, meaning "eater"

3 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

the Norse jötnar were not actually gigantic [...] though they did have gigantic members


Edited by Qizilbashwoman
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