Talk:Small Gods Question

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Copied and revised from discussion under Pyramids and possibly relevant here:-

Pyramids dates itself to the Century of the Cobra (i.e. well over a century before the present) and there isn't much to connect it to the Century of the Fruitbat....

Response:- but in the Far East, which uses a twelve-animal rotating cycle to denote years and centuries, the whole idea is that a limited menagerie of twelve animals, each bringing its own character traits and characteristics to any given year or century, is in harmonious continual rotation. Within each "century", the animal years rotate for a set number of cycles before giving way to the next in succession. A century may not even have a hundred years exactly;- deriving names from modern China, the twelve animal years might each cycle eight times (96 years) before the Century of the Tiger gives way to the Century of the Ox.

OK, on the Discworld, where the number eight matters, you might have a century composed of sixteen animal years that each cycle through eight years (for instance), thus making a 128-year "century". But although it seems like a good bet that the year/century cycle reflects that of Roundworld (where it is used) we don't know for sure, nor do we know exactly which animals are in the exalted solar club and used to name year and century cycles! But I would wonder how many times the Century of the Cobra has cycled round since the events of Small Gods - it doesn't necessarily have to be the immediately last Century of the Cobra, but perhaps even the one before? But if the Century of the Cobra has only just passed, and its previous occurence in the cycle was 2048 years ago, this fits neatly with the idea of classical Greece - Ephebe - and the philosophers who in "our day" are just archaic-sounding names on old scrolls. Also with the Librarian's rescue mission through L-space and time, and, as discussed below, the Djelibeybians still having some military strength to send to a joint expedition to trash Omnia. .

The classic animal-year-and-century calendar:-[1]

However, in Wyrd Sisters Pterry points out that practically every kingdom and culture on the Disc has its own calendar, so that a particular year could be the Year of the Small Bat in one place and the Year of the Distempered Hippo across the border. Cobra is a Century in the Djel calendar, but not necessarily the of A-M, which presumably has its own name for it.Solicitr 04:33, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

The Djelibeybian comparison.

We can be fairly sure Pyramids happened "within the last few years" in Ankh-Morpork. The Assassins' Guild is familiar, other city institutions are as they should be, Grune Nivor, Lady T'Malia, and Mr Mericet are named teachers at the AG school (they are still there in the Assassins' Guild Yearbook). The Guild Master is named as Dr Cruces. So this dates Pyramids to around or just before the time of Men at Arms?

Back home in Djelibeybi, we are explicitly informed that the current extent of the country's armed forces are a motley palace guard, a single camel (State camel ownership soon to be reduced by 100% by Pteppic and Ptraci) and a war chariot which is up on blocks in the garage awaiting repairs. And that's it. Everything else has gone to pay for pyramids. Chidder sees no obstacle to being able to take his smuggling ship, the Un-named, up and down the Djel at will.

Yet in Small Gods, the country is able to send a whole Navy as part of the coalition to chastise Omnia.

If the events of Small Gods are at least several hundred years before the consensus "present", then Dios might well have had more substantial armed forces to deploy. The same survival tactic that leads him to negociate with armies he cannot beat (as when he negotiates with Tsort and Ephebe in the early days of Pteppic's pharoah-hood) might well have operated then, in the face of a barbarian enemy such as Omnia, which even he will have noticed has suddenly and catastrophically overthrown barbarian Ephebe and altered the whole balance of power.

Hence Djelibeybi's participation in the alliance that sets out to destroy Omnia, lest Vorbis turn his eyes on destroying the Djel valley, its gods, and its priesthood, next. I vaguely recall from the text of Small Gods that the Djlibeybian admiral Rham-Ep-Efan is aware of having not much of a fleet, and he feels a bit dissappointed at this. (And when Om press-gangs the other Gods into sending a storm, the ships, of course, are first to suffer. Would Djelibeybi have been able to rebuild its Fleet, or would money for pyramids take first priority? Is the High Priest an Offlian?)

Also, I wouldn't mind betting that two dictatorially-minded High Priests like Vorbis and Dios, neither of whom would have brooked the other's way of worship for an instant, would have been very aware of each other's existance and sooner or later a conflict would have arisen. Think Hitler versus Stalin...)--AgProv 10:44, 18 August 2008 (UTC) revised --AgProv 09:54, 11 March 2010 (UTC)

That would seem to work, but you've ignored the issue of the philosophers- who have the same names in both Small Gods and Pyramids.
If I may offer an alternative explanation (but a wacky one), perhaps the pyramids of Djelibeybi have actually slowed down time in the immediate vicinity- Djelibeybi, Tsort, Ephebe, and Omnia? So that they're actually 100 years behind the rest of the Disc? Which means that the events of Small Gods and Pyramids (in Djelibeybi) are actually occuring 100 years in the past? Maybe Djelibeybi is even more behind, since they reference the Century of the Cobra (or is that just Dios unable to cope with what century it is)?
But elsewhere, the events taking place in both books appear to happen quite quickly around the present (slightly before Men at Arms). That's why in Ankh-Morpork, things are familiar.
And finally, such a bizarre situation would be a good reason for the Abbot to send a history monk of Lu-Tze's stature to Omnia- in addition to making sure things happen as they're supposed to, it would be a good way to check up on what weird timeline manipulations are going on in Djelibebyi.
As I said, it's rather a wacky theory. But I kind of like it. TC01 16:30, 11 March 2010 (UTC)

I ignore the philosophers, too. Their names tend to be descriptors which might be used through the generations. The time-distortion leakage theory isn't that wacky, though; I like it, buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut is there any actual evidence or supporting reference? . --Old Dickens 00:37, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

Well, not that I can think of at the moment, but I haven't read Pyramids or Small Gods lately. TC01 03:28, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

It's getting interesting. I'm more and more impressed with TC01's "time-hole" around the pyramids. It seems to solve a lot of problems at once, including my objections about modern Omnians to hubward. It's not that two centuries exist together; this century in Ankh-Morpork is (or was) last century or earlier (much earlier?) in Djelibeybi. I picture a time-braking field decreasing geometrically from terrific intensity in the valley of the Djel to a century or two delay in Omnia and fading out around Istanzia. This allows Omnian missionaries to go forth a century ago and arrive in Pseudopolis next Tuesday.

There are more mentions of the long history of Omnian reform from Mightily Oats and still no suggestion that Brutha has been around recently. If these Omnians made the trip recently we have to wonder why they don't remember the events as recent, of course. I've never tried time-travel; maybe that's what happens. --Old Dickens 16:19, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

The problem here is: Teppic is sent out of the time-braking field to spend seven years as a student at the Assassins' School. By this logic he takes at least 100 years to get there, and afterwards, Chidder takes over 100 years getting him back. Wouldn't Chidder twig that something funny is going on, when he returns and realises 200 years have passed in Ankh-Morpork since he left? And Pteppic would return to Djelibeybi a necessarily long time after his father's death. Wouldn't this be noticed and commented on, and who rules (as figurehead) while the rightful Pharoah is on his way home? Of course, this might well explain the non-arrival of the toilet installation engineers from the Plumbers' and Dunnikindivers Guild - it's not that they were intercepted, they were locked in the time-field.... and how does Uncle Vyrt get in and out of the country in between inhumation, with no apparent time-lag? ie, he sees his sister Artela The Great Cow, brother-in-law the Pharoah and nephew Pteppic in "real time", and not after a time lag?--AgProv 14:37, 13 March 2010 (UTC))

No, it doesn't take any longer to travel, it's just a different age when you get there. You lose anything up to several thousand years as you travel to Djelibeybi and regain it when you return. Think of a really outrageous Daylight Saving Time. --Old Dickens 15:14, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

Also, the History Monks are implied to have something to do with this in Thief of Time (in the passage quoted in the next section). I imagine they might have helped in stitching things together so no one ever notices. TC01 15:28, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
Well, IIRC Visit and Mightily are Omnians by religion, but I don't think it's ever said that they're Omnian by nationality- they could very well be Ankh-Morporkian converts to Omnianism. Solicitr 17:02, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

Visit is described as swarthy, foreign-looking and Omnian, I believe. M. Oats, maybe not. Mightily did learn the old Omnian hymns from his grandmother, though. --Old Dickens 17:12, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

Yep, you're right. Footnote to his first appearance. However his offstage pal Smite-the-Unbeliever-With-Cunning-Arguments is described merely as his 'coreligionist.' But, hey, all that missionary work must have paid off a few times, right? Since Mightily has a surname, which native Omnians don't appear to, he may well be a convert, or descended from them.
On the main issue: I'm really likin' me some Great Pyramid Time Well. In fact, it can take care of some other problems. Death of Rats? Simony's 'Fruitbat' Statement? Both occurred at sea off Ephebe- that is, that far out, Brutha, Om etc had climbed out of the Time Well and had traveled forward into or nearly into the "present."--Solicitr 20:06, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

The proposed both-centuries solution

The key, I believe, is in the following passage from Thief of Time where Pterry's thinking is pretty transparent:

Seen through [Susan's] business eyes, history was very strange indeed. The scars stood out. The history of the country of Ephebe was puzzling, for example. Either its famous philosophers lived for a very long time, or inherited their names, or extra bits had been stitched into history there. The history of Omnia was a mess. Two centuries had been folded into one, by the look of it, and it was only because of the mindset of the Omnians, whose religion mixed the past and future with the present in any case, that it could possibly have passed unnoticed.

So Pterry (through Susan) is observing (admitting) that Discworld chronology is a stitched-together mess, with the explicit examples being Ephebe, specifically its philosophers, and religious Omnia!

Does he have to put a flashing neon sign over it? He's addressing the Small Gods Question.

And he gives the proposed answer- in Omnia, two centuries have been folded together. Which ones? Well, the Fruitbat and an earlier one, most likely the preceding one. After all, Simony declares it to be the Fruitbat (or at least insists that Ephebe needs to be dragged into it). Additional evidence for the "present" would be the appearance of the Death of Rats (although Death himself can move through time, he apparently prefers not to, at least for the Duty- otherwise the premises of Mort and Reaper Man would make no sense).

And then there are the Philosophers. The passage above gives three possible answers- but the ones that appear in both Pyramids and Small Gods certainly appear to exactly the same characters. (Although I like User:TC01's idea- perhaps by the time Pteppic and Ptraci escape Djelibeybi, it's already shifted a century or so into the past).

The evidence that Small Gods occurs in the past really depends entirely on one statement and one assumption from Feet of Clay: the statement is Constable Visit's assertion that one of the old-school Omnian smite-the-infidel doctrines had been repealed "over a hundred years ago;" and the assumption is that since annoying Evangelical Reformed Omnian proselytizers were a normal part of Ankh-Morpork life, so they must have been around for a long time. (However, in Carpe Jugulum it's still a common belief that Omnians burn heretics and the like, implying the reform wasn't all that ancient). Note though that Feet of Clay is the first book in which Reformed Omnianism is mentioned.

What's this all mean? I believe that Terry means what he (Susan) says, that two centuries of Omnian history have been merged into one by the History Monks (himself), and the Omnian religion's blending of past, present and future (oddly, a doctrine never suggested in Small Gods) is perfectly cool with Brutha's life occurring in two centuries at once (at least, from the perspective of the outside world). At the same time, the Philosophers belong (in part) to bits of history "stitched into" Ephebe. By the time Pterry wrote Thief of Time, he had developed much more complex notions of the Multiverse and of Time and its Trousers than the fairly linear view he took in Mort and Wyrd Sisters.

It's worth mentioning that in The Last Continent Pterry is perfectly comfortable with things that have existed for thirty thousand years ever since a minute ago: the present changing the past retroactively. Presumably there had been Omnian missionaries in Ankh-Morpork for decades ever since Brutha reformed the religion a couple of years ago.

While Small Gods takes place in the Year of the Notional Serpent (pick a century), assuming that means 1885 the first time around is a bit of a dart-toss: who knows how many years there are in the animal-year cycle- or for that matter a "century?" Solicitr 05:41, 12 March 2010 (UTC)