Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger's Foibles & Author vs. Author

Almost a month ago I read this post from Hill Cantons, and I've been steadily reading through several Conan books so I could produce the following. I was astounded to find I could not find the connection posted anywhere on the internet.

First of all, may I start with the following excerpt from the Life of Pyrrhus, from Plutarch, circa 1st century A.D.:

And Pyrrhus was used to say, that Cineas had taken more towns with his words than he with his arms, and always did him the honor to employ him in his most important occasions. And seeing

Pyrrhus eagerly preparing for Italy, it was Cineas who led him one day when he was at leisure into the following argument: "The Romans, sir, are reported to be great warriors and conquerors of many warlike nations; if God permit us to overcome them, how should we use our victory?”

"You ask," said Pyrrhus, "a thing evident of itself. The Romans once conquered, there will be neither a Greek nor a barbarian city that will resist us, and so we shall presently be masters of all Italy, the extent and resources and strength of which no one would rather profess to be ignorant of, even yourself."

Cineas, after a little pause, "And having subdued Italy, what shall we do next?"

Pyrrhus, not yet seeing the point of these questions, replied, "Sicily. It next holds out her arms to receive us, a wealthy and populous island, and easy to be gained; for since Agathocles left it, only faction and anarchy, and the licentious violence of the demagogues, prevail."

"You speak," said Cineas, "what is perfectly probable, but will the possession of Sicily put an end to this war?"

Pyrrhus answered, "God grant us victory and success in that, and we will use these as forerunners of greater things. Who could forbear from Libya and Carthage then within reach, which Agathocles, even when forced to fly from Syracuse, and passing the sea only with a few ships, had all but surprised? These conquests once perfected, will any assert that of the enemies who now pretend to despise us, or anyone else will dare to make further resistance?"

"None," replied Cineas, "for then it is manifest we may with such mighty forces regain Macedon, and make all absolute conquest of Greece. And when all these are in our power, what shall we do then?"

Pyrrhus smiled and said, "We will live at our ease, my dear friend, and drink all day, and divert ourselves with pleasant conversation."

When Cineas had led Pyrrhus with his argument to this point: "And what stops us from doing that now, sir? If we have a mind to be merry, and entertain one another, since we have at hand everything we need to do this, why should we put ourselves through much blood and great labor?

Why design to arrive where we are by infinite hazards and mischief done to ourselves?"

Such reasonings rather troubled Pyrrhus, from the thoughts of happiness he denied himself. But unable to abandon the hopes of what he so much desired, he could not in any way alter his purpose.

And now, The Drums of Tombalku by Robert E. Howard, circa 1935:

Conan struck the rug with his fist. “What in Hell’s the matter with you, Sakumbe? You’re not the man you were in the old days. Then you were ready for any adventure; now, all you care about is your food, wine and women. What’s changed you?”

Sakumbe hiccupped. “In the old days, brother King, I wanted to be a king, with many men to obey my commands and plenty of wine, women and food. Now I have these things. Why should I risk them in unnecessary adventures?”

“But we must extend our boundaries to the Western Ocean, to gain control of the trade routes that come from the coast. You know as well as I that Tombalku’s wealth derives from control of trade routes.”

“And when we have conquered the king of Kush and reached the sea, what then?”

“Why, then we should turn our armies eastward, to bring the Ghanata tribes under our rule and stop their raiding.”

“And then, no doubt, you’ll want to strike north or south, and so on forever. Tell me, man, suppose we conquer every nation within a thousand miles of Tombalku and possessed wealth greater than that of the kings of Stygia. What should we do then?”

Conan yawned and stretched. “Why, enjoy life, I suppose; deck ourselves in gold, hunt and feast all day, and drink and wench all night. In between times, we could tell each other lies about our adventures.”

Sakumbe laughed again. “If that is all you want, why, we are doing just those things now! If you want more gold, or food, or drink, or women, ask me and you shall have it.”

Conan shook his head, grunting something inaudible and frowning in a puzzled way.

That's just awesome.


Dave Cesarano said...

Indeed, it is just awesome.

Carl said...

Thanks for this post. I feel refreshed.

valiance. said...

Excellent. Great detective work on your part as well.

ckutalik said...

That is just awesome. How did you make the catch in the first place?

Alexis said...

About 20 years ago. I did a degree in Classical History and Archeology, and I was expected to read and answer examinations on all Plutarch's Lives at one time or another. I personally adored Pyrrhus; twas my favorite bio from Plutarch, no question.

And one summer when I was taking course, I was reading Conan to rest my brain ...