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Sacrificial kingship/chieftainship in Glorantha?


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Are there any examples of folks sacrificing their king/queen or chieftain (when times are rough or as an emergency appeal to the gods' aid) in Gloranthan canon? If not, which cultures seem most likely to do/have done something like that? I'm thinking here of the example of iron age Ireland (like the bog bodies of Old Croghan Man and Clonycavan Man) and the plot point in Mary Renault's The King Must Die.  

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47 minutes ago, Beoferret said:

Are there any examples of folks sacrificing their king/queen or chieftain (when times are rough or as an emergency appeal to the gods' aid) in Gloranthan canon?

Old Tarsh, I think, is the primary example - typically a seven year cycle.

There's reference in King of Sartar to this (p.94): "Endars Stand‑up raided the Tarshites and the Quivini. The former had become disorganized with the sacrificial murders of their kings..."

Also p.131: "Halifitoor was the son of Argrath and Sorana Tor. He ruled for seven years before he was sacrificed by his replacement, according to the rules of the high priestess of Sorana Tor." and "King Maroflo ruled for seven years, and at the end of that period strangled the assassin, who had the shape of a gigantic python, which had been sent to slay him. During his whole reign he never raised a weapon against anyone, or went to war, and he was always welcome at any feast held by his High King.
In the fourteenth year of his reign, he was set upon by werewolves, but he evaded them with the Yew‑trick...."

And p.194: "In Tarsh the goddess controlled the sacrificial Illaro Dynasty."

 

 

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Another location is the Red City of Karantes in the satrapy of Oronin in the Lunar Empire.

Guide p.317: "In the Gods Age, the Red King sat here upon his throne of gold, wore his golden crown, and bore his golden scepter until he was sacrificed by Naveria for the good of their people. Throughout much of the Second and Third Age, the Red City was an independent city-state held sacred by the surrounding empires. Since the time of Hon-eel, the Red City has been a center for human sacrifice."

While there are no longer independent kings, perhaps there is still a regular, annual sacrifice of the leading city official, an honorary Red King?

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21 minutes ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

what is really these king's sacrifices?

is it "just" the death of the king (so his soul goes in a good place in the otherworld) or a bigger sacrifice (the soul is lost too or transformed, something really lost)

With Maran Gor, presumably the blood sacrifice of a king helps renew the land or its fertility, or invigorates or strengthens the power of the Earth.  The soul presumably goes into whatever Maran Gor's afterlife place is.  It must carry along more than just the King's soul (and magic points) though. 

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15 hours ago, Beoferret said:

f not, which cultures seem most likely to do/have done something like that? I'm thinking here of the example of iron age Ireland (like the bog bodies of Old Croghan Man and Clonycavan Man) and the plot point in Mary Renault's The King Must Die.  

Jajagappa has given you the Gloranthan examples and there are plenty of examples in our world too

From the Middle East where human sacrifice was the last resort to some national emergency and often required the death of the king or one of his children. The Carthaginians and Phoenicians probably made child sacrifices but it is unknown for what purpose.

Human sacrifice is mentioned in Judeo-Christian texts where as I remember the King of Moab sacrificed his eldest son to Moloch to lift the Israeli siege of his capital. Also I think two Kings of Judah sacrificed their sons and 'angered the Lord' in times of emergency

A lot of Greek heroes interestingly suffered very ritualistic deaths (pricked by a poison arrow in the heel, flung off a cliff, gouged in the thigh with tusk, ripped to pieces by Orgiastic women, etc). Agamemnon suffered a ritual death which is similar to how the Mabinogion explains how to kill Lleu Llaw Gyffes (the sun god) which I suspect is not an accident. Of note Odysseus escaped his ritual sacrifice.

In Ireland and in Scandinavia we have ritualistically murdered people (strangled, garrotted, hung) which were nobles and were quite often mutilated (tongue, nipples or eyes).

The Year Sacred King is hinted at in lots of mythology and is probably been expunged from the record as societies became more 'civilised'. (Romans denied they sacrificed Vestal Virgins or walled up two Gauls and Greeks under the Forum during the Hannibal wars. There is mention that the Vestals threw straw people into the Tiber which were probably originally human sacrifice). They attributed human sacrifice to their enemies (those nasty Gauls, druids, Germans, Celt-iberians, Carthaginians) who were not civilised and deserved conquering. 

Blood sacrifice was always very powerful and the agrarian (possibly matrilinear) peoples needed to ensure that their crops would grow and they would not starve. What better way to do it than to kill the King since he is associated with the sun and dies yearly?

That's a few examples off the top of my head but there are lots more.. 

 

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22 minutes ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

what is really these king's sacrifices?

is it "just" the death of the king (so his soul goes in a good place in the otherworld) or a bigger sacrifice (the soul is lost too or transformed, something really lost)

It may very well be a form of subservient apotheosis - the sacrificed king becomes another cult spirit available to his people and successors.

People may have regarded the prestigious individual sacrificed as a messenger to the deity, as their interlocutor. 

The Malkioni have Yingar the Messenger, a grandson of Malkion.

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4 minutes ago, Joerg said:

It may very well be a form of subservient apotheosis - the sacrificed king becomes another cult spirit available to his people and successors.

That would certainly be true of yearly sacrificed kings who had oracular hero shrines dedicated to them after their deaths in Greece

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49 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

The soul presumably goes into whatever Maran Gor's afterlife place is. 

.... maran gor's afterlife... for a man.... never become a king... or start immediatly beer after death to not be... aware

46 minutes ago, Joerg said:

It may very well be a form of subservient apotheosis - the sacrificed king becomes another cult spirit available to his people and successors.

a better way, probably a legend to convince them to accept their maran's doom gift

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1 hour ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

.... maran gor's afterlife... for a man.... never become a king... or start immediatly beer after death to not be... aware

a better way, probably a legend to convince them to accept their maran's doom gift

Don't forget that the Earthshaker priestess' wagon is accompanied by cannibals of both genders.  She isn't prejudiced, simply hungry.... 

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Can anyone imagine Heortlings doing this? In any of the three ages or the Godtime? Maybe as part of a heroquest reenacting Orlanth's killing of Yelm (if you could tie it to opposing overweening authority and somehow ignore the resulting Darkness side of the myth)? I can imagine king or chief sacrifice being involved in a Gloranthan myth about a leader sacrificing themselves in order to save their people from some horrible fate (starvation or a chaos incursion) or perhaps an aged leader who volunteers to be sacrificed so that their spirit becomes the community wyter. Interesting possibilities.

* also, in RQG terms, I wonder what the bonus to a group worship roll would be, if a chief/king was sacrificed as part of the ceremony. +30% if they were unwilling and +100% if they volunteered? 😁

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5 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

.... maran gor's afterlife... for a man.... never become a king... or start immediatly beer after death to not be... aware

a better way, probably a legend to convince them to accept their maran's doom gift

I suspect that the manner of death is kept from them and is a closely guarded cult secret 

As an example if we conflate the myths of Agamemnon and Lleu Llaw Gyffes both were likely told as a solemn oath that they would not die as long as he was  'neither clothed nor unclothed, neither in water nor on dry land, neither in the palace nor outside and neither fasting nor feasting'. 

As that oath was pretty foolproof and it seemed impossible to break, the sacred King would likely think they were the chosen of the goddess and they would not be sacrificed at Midsummer. Sadly they were unaware that the situation could be fulfilled by being in the bathhouse annex, being given an apple and setting it to his lips, being entangled in a shirt that was sleeveless and had no neck just as you step out of the bath. Who would have thought?

Interestingly, Clytaemnestra  used an axe to behead Agamemnon which was the Cretan symbol of sovereignty and also of the Goddess

I suspect Maran's Doom is couched along similar lines with a seemingly sacred oath that seems unbreakable. They just keep lining up... 

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1 hour ago, Nozbat said:

I suspect Maran's Doom is couched along similar lines with a seemingly sacred oath that seems unbreakable. They just keep lining up...

Maybe in some cases, but I think in many others it's something they go in knowing that it's a very likely death sentence. After all, we all die eventually, so why not get to be a powerful king for seven years and then spend your afterlife being paid homage and worship by the Tarshites on holy days?

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5 hours ago, Beoferret said:

Can anyone imagine Heortlings doing this? In any of the three ages or the Godtime? Maybe as part of a heroquest reenacting Orlanth's killing of Yelm (if you could tie it to opposing overweening authority and somehow ignore the resulting Darkness side of the myth)? I can imagine king or chief sacrifice being involved in a Gloranthan myth about a leader sacrificing themselves in order to save their people from some horrible fate (starvation or a chaos incursion) or perhaps an aged leader who volunteers to be sacrificed so that their spirit becomes the community wyter. Interesting possibilities.

* also, in RQG terms, I wonder what the bonus to a group worship roll would be, if a chief/king was sacrificed as part of the ceremony. +30% if they were unwilling and +100% if they volunteered? 😁

The Storm side of the Heortlings/Orlanthi doesn't seem to be too much into human sacrifice, afaik, but they are an Earth people too, and Earth, specifically Dark Earth, has a long history of human sacrifice.

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From what I remember, Humakt is the only god from the Storm side of the Heortlings who makes a habit of demanding human sacrifice (though even that's not a regular thing), which is just one more way Humakt is actually kind of female-coded by Heortling standards if you think about it. Usually, Storm gods just demand you go out and kill other people when they want to see blood spilled, rather than sacrifice your own or your captives.

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7 hours ago, Leingod said:

Maybe in some cases, but I think in many others it's something they go in knowing that it's a very likely death sentence. After all, we all die eventually, so why not get to be a powerful king for seven years and then spend your afterlife being paid homage and worship by the Tarshites on holy days?

we all die for sure, but in this case ( @jajagappa version) , the king otherworld place is not in a "happy walhalla / elyseum like" but  in Maran's universe (I may be wrong, but there, I don't think it is a funny place)

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It seems linked to Death cults, which makes sense really.

The Dark Earth has been already talked about here, Maran Gor (Death Earth Disorder) is very fond of ritual murder, but it's not the only one. Belintar's system is pretty much based on ritual (self) sacrifice, as the winner or the tournament sacrifices his/her body to host Belintar's divine soul for a short time, and Belintar is the master of Luck and Death.

The Lunars also practice ritual sacrifice of monarchs pretty often if I'm not mistaken. HonEel is the prime exemple, as she sacrifices Pyjeemsab, King of Tarsh; also decades later JarEel sacrifices another Tarshite King, Moirades, using HonEel's rituals. This practices are also known in the Lunar Heartlands, Moonson Argenteus is murdered by the Great Sister in order to bring down a "more appropiate" (some may say less incompetent) TakenEgi.

One can also think that, given that Glorantha tries it's best to stay "bronze age", ritual sacrifice of kings is a way to, umm, keep the rulers under certain constraints, so that they don't become too powerful. The heortings (in the modern sense of the term) don't need that because their chiefs and kings are already limited by their ring and election processes, that make them far from absolute rulers. The Tarshites OTOH threw that "democratic" (more like oligarchic really) processes away to become a hereditary monarchy, and thus had to resort to ritual sacrifice. In RW history, I think it was for the same reasons too.

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4 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

we all die for sure, but in this case ( @jajagappa version) , the king otherworld place is not in a "happy walhalla / elyseum like" but  in Maran's universe (I may be wrong, but there, I don't think it is a funny place)

My understanding of it is that human sacrifice (among Heortlings, at least) goes through Ana Gor, who incarnates within Dragon Pass as Sorana Tor. Other Heortling deities who demand/receive human sacrifice do so through her, and the sacrifices go to her afterlife, the Beautiful Place.

Even if I'm wrong about that (and I may well be), just because it's Maran's afterlife doesn't necessarily mean it's a horrible place to be. Just like Ernalda isn't all sunshine and rainbows simply because she represents the positive/life-giving aspects of the Earth, Maran probably doesn't have to be all skulls and blood 100% of the time just because she's a Dark Earth goddess. She was a mother once, too, and maybe sacrificed kings are received as she would her own children?

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1 hour ago, Jape_Vicho said:

The Lunars also practice ritual sacrifice of monarchs pretty often if I'm not mistaken. HonEel is the prime exemple, as she sacrifices Pyjeemsab, King of Tarsh; also decades later JarEel sacrifices another Tarshite King, Moirades, using HonEel's rituals. This practices are also known in the Lunar Heartlands, Moonson Argenteus is murdered by the Great Sister in order to bring down a "more appropiate" (some may say less incompetent) TakenEgi.

 

Oh yeah, there's the Heron Goddess ritual that killed Takenegi once. He got better, of course, but you'd imagine that death to be permanent for other kingly participants who get eaten (it seems to be implied that this isn't a sure deal, though.)

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Argarath sacrificed the gods to liberate the world from the risk of Wakboth.

Arkat sacrificed himself, transforming again and again until he defeated Gbaji in the form of a troll.

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On 3/30/2021 at 12:24 AM, Beoferret said:

Are there any examples of folks sacrificing their king/queen or chieftain (when times are rough or as an emergency appeal to the gods' aid) in Gloranthan canon?

The people of Caladraland threw people into Volcanoes on a regular basis, not sure if they sacrificed their leaders, though. Belintar came along and volunteered to be sacrificed, appearing again and ending human sacrifice by always agreeing to be the sacrificial victim.

The Great Sister performs an Utuma ritual on the Red Emperor in the Hero Wars, following a number of bad defeats.

 

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