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Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2003 20:24:53 -0600
From: James Jordan 
Subject: Re: (urth) the great god Pan

Russell rote:

>>This raises the wider question of Wolfe's ambiguous and often quite
>>terrifying presentation of the Greek deities.

         A whole lot of what we are brought up on about ancient Greek and 
Roman religion has been cleaned up. You never hear about the human 
sacrifices offered before important battles, so that human entrails could 
be read. Stories about the gods have often been cleaned up too. In reality, 
they were a pretty frightening bunch, which is why they had to be appeased 
and bought-off all the time. Happily, modern scholarship seems much more 
open about such matters, not writing books for children and for 19th c. prudes.

>>  I think we are to view
>>them as actual gods, not just Latro's hallucinations, but Wolfe says in
>>one interview that they were "not worthy of being worshipped." Would
>>that make them demons?

         Probably. Fallen angels.

>>  What is the orthodox Catholic position these days
>>on rival religions and their supernatural beings?

         I think Wolfe would agree that when Adam gave the world to Satan, 
and put his posterity under Satan (though he probably does not take the 
story literally), he gave the world and humanity over to the demonic realm. 
He is clearly "conservative" on the general matter, anyway, since he does 
not demythologize demons and "gods" into "aspects of human consciousness" 
or some such thing.
         I don't know that Wolfe would say, "There was a demon named 
Athena, and another named Baal." But I think he would say that demons did 
occasionally interact with people, who then concocted names and stories 
about them.

>>Certainly the
>>underlying logic of the Latro novels thus far is the move from
>>Earth-worship to Father-worship, and as usual in Wolfe all the major
>>evil characters are either female (or in one case) become female.  (Not
>>that he's totally misogynistic: the Amazons are portrayed entirely
>>positively, and Io the slave girl is the brightest and best of all his

         I think that's right. Latro is on his way to some kind of contact 
with Israel -- which doubtless will be muted and concealed in the text, 
providing Wolfe lives to write it. The evil female characters have to do 
with worshipping the creature (earth) rather than the creator (God). Wolfe 
shows us where he thinks such an orientation leads, to cruelty and horror.



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