October 18, 2008

Gods Of Little Dreams

"Pegana has gods of dust, of silence, and of 'little dreams and fancies', but no gods or goddesses of the harvest, of war, or of love — pretty much the core curriculum for heathen deities." — Laura Miller on the Fantastical Writings of Lord Dunsany, in an old New Yorker.

A refreshing universe of gods — a god for each of the inexplicable things beyond human control, ceding the important things — harvest, war, etc. — to human agency. Which is as it should be. (Too often we describe as "inhuman" exactly that behaviour that most marks us as human beings — war, murder, rape, torture, etc.; too often "act of god" is a euphemism for human negligence).

(C.f. Herodotus's "[Hesiod and Homer] were the poets who composed for the Hellenes the theogony, assigned to the gods their epithets, defined their particular honors and skills, and described what they look like." (2.53 in Purvis's recent translation, ed. Strassler) — that nicely-inverted echo of Adam naming the animals in Genesis…).

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