Anisiad

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Modern portrait of Pello

The Anisiad is an ancient Anisoran epic poem, written by Pello between around 5299 and 5308, that tells the story of the first Emperor of Anisora, Anisor the Great. The epic charts the Emperor's early life, from birth and exile during the Orderan Civil Wars, his return journey from exile to reclaim the throne and his establishment of the United Empire of Anisora. The poem is composed of some 12,673 lines in dactylic hexameter.

The poem is considered the National Epic of Anisora and charts the foundation of the Empire from the fractured kingdoms of Ordera and Marsium. Consequently, the work has been prized by Anisorans throughout the centuries after it's completion. It is also the first extant example of epic poetry in Anisoran and thus began the epic tradition in Anisoran literature, which has been considered the highest form of writing by scholars throughout the ages.

Contents

Story

The work is separated into 15 books and can be divided into three wider sections: the Puery (Books 1-5); the ** (Books 6-10); and the ** (Books 11-15). Book numbers are in parenthesis.

The Puery

The young Prince Anisor by Lario Mendecci 7430

(1) The epic begins with an invocation to the gods Salla and Napella, the god pair of knowledge. After which the narrator describes the current state of the land of Anisora as a land divided by war and plagued by dishonour and concludes the opening with one of the most famous sections of the epic, where the Anisoran land is compared to a large family, fighting each other in chaos, without the guiding hand of a father of the nation.

(2) The narrative begins with the opening of the second book, as we meet the young Anisor at play in the gardens of the house of Cassus and his wife Mallia. The young hero is described at length as a boy of 11, with thick black hair and already incredibly handsome, holding a branch and fighting off an imaginary boar. The battle description concludes with Anisor striking a blow at the imaginary beast’s neck and the young boy begins to shout in triumph and arrogantly censures the beast’s weakness and boasts his own strength to his friend Pallan.

Cassus, Anisor’s mentor and guardian, was watching the boys at play and beckoned them to come to him. He then gives Anisor and Pallan their first lesson, something he will do frequently throughout the epic. He explains a true warrior must be respectful of the enemy and understand the strength of the enemy as well as his own weakness. The two boys ask the wise old man questions and the book ends with Anisor misunderstanding Cassus' teachings as he goes on to tell Pallan of his recent victory over a rabbit in much the same way.

(3) The third book begins with husband and wife Cassus and Mallia discussing Anisor and how he came to be in their care. We learn that Mallia was in fact Anisor’s wet-nurse at the palace of King Selulla, while Cassus was the late king’s gardener. The couple go on to describe the beginnings of the First Orderan Civil War and the rise of Romiad, which led them to flee the city of Valance with the newborn infant Anisor, King Selulla’s nephew, following the death of Anisor’s royal parents. Mallia expresses anxiety that Romiad will find out the whereabouts of the young prince, but Cassus reassures her, and the audience, that the High President thinks him to be dead and so they have managed to live in peace for 11 years.

The book concludes with Anisor rushing into the house with his friend Pallan, covered in mud. The prince tells the couple of his adventures in the garden and after being rebuked by Mallia as to why he was so dirty, the boy replied that it was a dragon’s fault, which made the couple laugh.

(4) The narrative returns to Cassus giving the boys Anisor and Pallan a lesson in history. Cassus narrates the recent history of Ordera and how the last king, Selulla, had died leaving no apparent heir. The old man continues to describe the ensuing Civil War, described in vivid detail, including many battle scenes and dramatic deaths of heroes and villains alike. He notably leaves out the slaughter of the royal family. When Cassus explains that the rise of Romiad and the rule of terror he inflicted upon the people of Ordera was why they fled, the young Anisor begins to ask questions about his own place within the story. He asks Cassus what happened to his parents, and whether they were killed in the war against Romiad and how the old man and his wife came to care for him. Cassus sighs and says that he knew this day would come.

Cassus then tells Anisor the truth about his parentage and place within the story. He goes on to explain that the young boy is the true heir to the throne of Ordera. Anisor is left stunned by this revelation and finally asks why Cassus hadn’t told him before. The old man replies it was to keep him safely out of the clutches of the High President Romiad. Cassus advises the young prince to pray and think on all he has learned, which the boy obediently does. The book concludes with Cassus telling the young Pallan that he must be there for his friend and help him in this difficult time.

(5) Book five opens with Cassus and Mallia telling Anisor and Pallan more about the circumstances they find themselves in. Much of the book is taken up by the famous catalogue of Houses, where Cassus lists all of the Noble and Lesser Houses of the land which owe him allegiance and who will surely rally around him when the time comes to confront Romiad. Cassus interestingly includes many Marsian noble houses, which is the first indication that Anisor is destined to rule both Ordera and Marsium.

Cassus goes on to tell Anisor and Pallan the time is right to begin their formal training. The following day a stranger arrives who introduces himself to Anisor as Lord Gaius Antonius Silvus, a leader of the resistance movement back in Ordera. He explains he is here to oversee the prince’s military education. The book closes with the young Anisor praying to the gods for strength and wisdom.


Major Characters

Royalists

  • Anisor - The hero of the epic, Prince and King of Ordera and Emperor of the United Empire of Anisora.
  • Pallan - Lifelong companion of Anisor
  • Cassus - Tutor and guardian of the young Anisor
  • Mallia - Wetnurse and guardian of the young Anisor
  • Gaius - Royalist general and military trainer of Anisor, Lord of Quilla
  • Alma - Son of Alma the Elder, Lord of Exos
  • Omorinian - Son of Ephelictarides, Lord of Amboros
  • Lepstor - Son of Tolomen, Lord of Mellia

Republicans

  • Romiad - High President of the Orderan Republic
  • Salvian - Son of Romiad and head of the Republican Guard
  • Deleroon - Son of Romiad
  • Affiliarion - Son of Pustius, Lord of Berrolica, trusted advisor to Romiad
  • Untirion - Son of Settius, Lord of Puppios
  • Dalmagnomen - Son of Titerios, brother of Dalcorion, Lord of Carrono
  • Dalcorion - Son of Titerios, brother of Dalmagnomen, Lord of Sefanni

Themes

War and Conflict

The first word of the epic poem bella (plural of bellum, 'war') establishes one of the principal themes of the Anisiad: the wars that devour the Pastanan lands. Seen as principally a martial epic, following the epic tradition, the importance placed on fighting and conflict in the Anisiad is well established within the literary tradition. The poem is famed for its treatment of conflict as very much a two sided affair, with great pathos inducing scenes of both sides in the war. In Book IV we see the first instance of warfare in the epic, as narrated by Cassus. This narration foreshadows the battles which are to come and to which the young Anisor must become part of.

When Anisor finally arrives in Ordera, conflict inevitably ensues. The initial battle between Anisor and Salvian is a bloody affair, with many heroes falling. Most famously when Salvian kills the old warrior Gamomen:

The great hearted Salvian swung his greatsword
high into the air, his eyes aflame with rage and passion,
before bringing the mighty blow down upon his enemy.
Stalwart Gamomen, Son of Lillimius, well practised in war,
groaned as the sword pierced his breast, the life leaving his
aged body and joining his father in the shadowy Halls.
Book X.335-40 (Hallish translation, Smitton)

The final battle between Anisor and Romiad at the very end of the poem is a poignant treatment of conflict and war. The two warriors greet each other, the first time they have met, with Romiad spitting words of hatred at Anisor for killing his son Salvian (often viewed by scholars as the more significant fight). Anisor initially maintains his characteristic cool and lists all the wrongs he will right with the President's death. The fight ends when Anisor, overcome by anger and fury, kills Romiad despite his pleas, and proclaims:

Your pride and greed shall be your downfall,
as was often prophesied; no mortal may defy the will
of the great heavens, no king and no president.
You, who rebuked even the gods with impious audacity
and selfish wars of greed. You, who have plagued this
land with your poisonous rule and unspeakable tyranny.
You, who destroyed my fatherland along with my own
dear father and mother. You, I will now kill,
and the wide land and the flowing rivers and the deep seas
will rejoice at the sight of your cold, lifeless corpse.
Book XV.891-900 (Hallish translation, Rotherman)

This final fight encompasses the theme of war in the poem. The land has suffered war for so long and so many have died to enable Anisor to kill one man. However, scholars have noted how this final speech of Anisor's is somewhat out of character. War fury (furor) has overcome the prince, and many argue that the land, rivers and seas are not the ones rejoicing in his death, but Anisor, all too much. The Pastanan word 'rejoice' (cōmissābantur; line 900) also has connotations of revelling and decidedly immoral enjoyment, often translated as 'they will revel'.

Family

The concept of the family (familia) is a major theme within the Anisiad. Throughout the poem, family is a constant point of reference for both the characters and the readers. Family is one of the most commonly used subjects for similes in the poem, and constantly refers to the state of the land as a family divided. Many characters are also characterised with reference to family. Most notably, fatherly Anisor and brotherly Pallan.

And loyal Anisor looked across the dark plains
before the city, pity in his eyes, as a father
who once rejoiced at having many strong children,
but now finds his sons fighting one another and his
daughters crying at the terrible sight. So Anisor
saw the land of his fathers, soaked in the blood of
brothers and sisters and it saddened his great heart.
Book XI.498-94 (Hallish translation, Rotherman)

Here both Anisor and the land are described in familial terms. Anisor as a father despairing at fighting children, with the land as the fighting brothers. Many scholars agree that the crying daughters are seen to represent the trees, shedding their leaves at the beginning of the war in autumn, which the poet picks up ten lines later when describing the land in more detail.

Some commentators suggest that the establishment of Anisor as a father to the nation is awkward and out of place, given his youth. We first see the prince as a capricious and arrogant child, and when we get to the fighting, very few years have passed, and the prince is said to be only 19 when he accomplishes all his great deeds.

Nature

Nature and natural imagery play a huge role in the poem. Natural similes are the most common of all types of similes in the poem and describe characters, places and actions. The importance placed by the poet on the land itself, often personified, lends to this employment of natural imagery.

The Myrian plains were stretched before them,
and the great column of men marched onwards.
They fell upon the land together like a wave
hitting the soft sands of the Dalian shores,
each footstep a rush of water working in unison
with their watery companions, leaving a slight likeness
upon the sand, before Time restores the surface as it
was before. So the army marched, nature reclaiming all.
Book XII.117-24 (Hallish translation, Corrlan)

Gardening imagery is also very common in the poem. Drawing from Cassus, Anisor's mentor and guardian who was also the gardener to King Sellula, in the early books, which are dedicated to the domestic space of Cassus' house, gardening is used throughout the rest of the poem to remind us of the teachings of Cassus and the metaphors and similes he used to teach Anisor about statesmanship and warfare:

"The lands of this world are as gardens to us",
Cassus, wisest of men, said to the young princely Anisor.
"Each kingdom entirely different to the next,
and each supporting a vast number of different peoples.
As the gardener seeks to cultivate the entire garden,
so too a ruler seeks to cultivate his peoples and lands.
Every flower, every stem and every blade of grass
makes the garden what it is, and cannot be without them."
Book V.337-44 (Hallish translation, Corrlan)

Style

The Anisiad, like other epic poems, is written in dactylic hexameter: each line consists of six metrical feet made up of dactyls (one long syllable followed by two short syllables) and spondees (two long syllables). As with other classical Anisoran poetry, the meter is based on the length of syllables rather than the stress, though the interplay of meter and stress is also important. Pello is renowned for his employment of poetic devices such as alliteration, synecdoche, assonance, pleonasm and most famously personification, metaphor and simile. One of the most famous examples of simile would come from Book 14, when Anisor is compared to a gardener (a recurrent theme), pruning a great garden from weeds and encouraging the most beautiful plants to thrive. It can be seen that just as a gardener cultivates a garden, so to a leader preserves and cultivates a nation.

Pello's style has been celebrated for it's weight, dignity and subtlety.

History

Folio 12 from the Himannius Pellonius manuscript, c.5900 - Book VII

The Anisiad was written during a time of great political unrest in Anisora, with the previous century seeing relentless cycles of warfare. The wars that gripped the land, including two successive civil wars and many external wars, have thought to have influenced Pello considerably, at a time when Anisorans were loosing faith in their history and place within the world. However, despite this upheaval, Anisoran literature and culture flourished around the turn of the 53rd century.

While the civil wars had ended some decades before, the reigning emperor at the time when Pello was writing, Gaius Relevius, was not very popular and the threat of another civil war loomed. Many scholars, both ancient and modern, have thus felt the Anisiad chimes with the contemporary sense of unease and fear of civil war that all Anisorans would have felt at the time. However, many modern scholars, particularly in the last few decades, have seen the Anisiad, with its themes of tyranny and overthrowing illegitimate rulers, as deliberately subverting the Relevian regime. That in fact the work was a piece of anti-Relevian propaganda, attempting to incite a regime change. Attention has been drawn to Book III, where similarities have been drawn between the rise of Romiad and that of the emperor Relevius.

Furthermore, some scholars of the anti-Relevian school see a further, but very subtle, link between the hero Anisor and the future emperor Lucius Bennadus, who would later overthrow Gaius Relevius in a civil war some 6 years after the publication of the Anisiad. While this remains a popular theory, it should be noted that it is highly unlikely that Pello based his character Anisor on Bennadus, as he was an unexpected claimant to the throne. Some hard-liners within the school, however, maintain that Pello and Bennadus in fact knew each other and the latter shared his imperial aspirations with the former. Although this is largely dismissed as fantasy by the academic community, recent scholarship reverses this theory. Scholarship focused on placing the Anisiad within its social and political context have found considerable evidence to suggest the Emperor Bennadus modelled his rule on that of the character Anisor. G. L. Mellaro's 7508RH paper Bennadus: the New Anisor recognised a potential conscious effort on Bennadus' part to create an image of himself as the New Anisor.

The work itself was written between 5299 and 5308, although specific dating is difficult. However, we know the work was published in 5308, by references made by contemporaneous writers. With Pello already being a famous writer of the times, most notably for his other poems the Fittiones and Plenerics, the work was well received and circulated the empire quickly. The emperor Relevius was said to have called the work a masterpiece, and had Books II, X and XII performed by the author himself at the palace.

The work has remained one of the most popular pieces of literature in Gothan history, but the text, as well as other aspects of ancient Anisoran culture, went through a renewal under emperor Marius I following the Decus Programme and the Praeclarum Movement. The first known faithful translation of the work is the Auresian translation by Marcai Belesarious (his Anisiados) completed in 7001. The Hallish translation by the 71st century poet William Welton is a very important version, which began the Hallish passion for Anisoran literature.

Influence

Modern and ancient scholarship have considered a large number of writers to have influenced Pello and the Anisiad. Along with other Aurei poets, Pello drew considerable influence from the love poets Aullus and Jerronius.

The Anisiad has influenced considerable works over the course of several millennia. The work inspired allusion and direct quotation in a number of literary works beginning in the 55th century onwards, with famous examples including the mini-epic (epyllion) the Peltrion by the poet Damandeon, which used the Anisiad as its model and inspiration. More modern texts have also drawn from the Anisiad. Particuarly during the Praeclarum movement writers and poets drew considerable inspiration from the work when composing their own work. The national epic was refounded under Marius I and the Decan Emperors were keen to attach themselves to this ancient mythology. Under their patronage the influence of the Anisiad, as well as other ancient versions of the foundation myth of Anisora, became widespread literary allusion and headed a considerable increase in patriotic literature. During this time the Pastanan Language became popular among the literary elite, and Pello's weighty style was hugely admired and imitated.

Scholarship

The Anisiad is one of the most studied texts in history, and has fascinated and dominated scholarship, particularly in Anisora, for centuries. Consequently, there is a vast number of scholarly works written and countless schools of thought jostling for recognition throughout the centuries, right up until the present. In fact, the scholar Gaius Livinius Mellaro's work on the Anisiad in the early 7500's reignited a fascination for the text among scholars throughout Anaria and beyond, which endures today.

Most notable works of Anisiad scholarship are as follows:

  • Ancient scholarship is an important part of the tradition of study, with particularly well regarded works by the surviving ancient commentators Allo, Lemnius and Vapallaso (whose commentary remains one of the most influential texts on the Anisiad today).
  • Gaius Livinius Mellaro's colossal 7 book commentary is one of the defining pieces of Anisiad scholarship. His book The Anisiad and the Tradition of Empire also influenced current scholarship significantly. His ideas formulated into the Mellaran School.
  • Livia Attia Juliatto's books Reading the Anisiad, Pello and his Successors and Epic Narration: The Anisiad and its Influences place her at the forefront of modern Pelloric studies.
  • The Hallish scholar Jonathan Willton's works The Anisiad: New Readings and Loyalty and Betrayal in the Anisiad.
  • Sextus Giovanni Lellila's works Pello and the Beginnings of Empire and Discovering Pello: A Biography began a new-found fascination for scholarship on Pello the man, and his influences.
  • Titus Achille Pegammus' work The Anisiad and Anisor: A Paradox remains controversial today and has formulated the largely discredited Pegammus School.
  • The Auresian scholar Talon Linen Nacco contributed significant scholarship in the form of his works The Pelloric Tradition, Auresian readings of the Anisiad and his essay The Pallan Problem: True Hero or Hidden Villain?.
  • Alonso Gibbas' An Empire Divided: Pello on Power and The Presidential Anisiad created the somewhat controversial school that believes the Anisiad is in fact a work subverting imperial power.
  • The Amberian scholar Margarete äv Maarstädt's works The Feminine Anisiad, Marriage and Matriarchy in the Anisiad and Goddesses of Influence: An Exploration of the Anisiad make up the most significant feminist contributions to Pelloric studies
  • The Hellish academic Peter Sämaan is the leading Häverist scholar currently working on the Anisiad. His works including Häverist Readings of the Anisiad, Teaching Häverism in the Anisiad, Pello the First Häverist and Pello and Peter Häver are monumental works, creating a very popular strand of Pelloric scholarship, particularly in Helreich.
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