Edited by Dabbler, 21 September 2017 - 03:10 PM.
Notes on ''The Doom That Came to Sarnath''
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Posted 21 September 2017 - 03:09 PM
''the land of Mnar...Sarnath'' – see also ''The Nameless City'' (Sarnath the Doomed, that stood in the land of Mnar when mankind was young).
''the grey stone city of Ib'' – see also ''The Nameless City'' (Ib, that was carven of grey stone before mankind existed), ''At the Mountains of Madness'' ( Here sprawled a palaeogean megalopolis compared with which the fabled Atlantis and Lemuria, Commoriom and Uzuldaroum, and Olathoë in the land of Lomar are recent things of today—not even of yesterday; a megalopolis ranking with such whispered pre-human blasphemies as Valusia, R’lyeh, Ib in the land of Mnar, and the Nameless City of Arabia Deserta.)
''inchoate'' – just begun, as yet not fully formed.
''the brick cylinders of Kadatheron'' – perhaps akin to the cuneiform-inscribed cylinders current in Assyria and Babylonia, though these were often used as foundation-deposits rather than ''records'' in the modern sense.
''gibbous'' – from the Latin ''gibbus'', hump-backed, in astronomy denoting a moon or planet between the first quarter and the full (waxing gibbous) and between the full and the third quarter (waning gibbous).
''papyrus of Ilarnek'' – a document I cannot trace elsewhere. For Ilarnek, see below.
''Thraa'' – Alluded to in ' The Dream-Quest of Unknown 'Kadath'' (the merchants of Thraa), and in the ''Quest of Iranon'' (I have been to Thraa)
''Ilarnek'' – Alluded to in ''Kadath'' (the merchants of... Ilarnek) and in the ''Quest'' (I have been to... Ilarnek)
''Kadatheron on the winding river Ai'' – Kadatheron itself, (not to be confused with Kadath in the cold waste), is alluded to in ''Kadath'' (the merchants of... Kadatheron) and, using a description identical to that in ''The Doom That Came to Sarnath'', almost like a Homeric epithet, in the ''Quest of Iranon'' (Kadatheron on the winding river Ai). For the repeated use of epithets in Latin and Greek epic literature, see e.g. ''rosy-fingered dawn'' (Odyssey), Mycenae, ''rich in gold'' (Iliad), ''dutiful Aeneas'' (Aeneid).
Examples of the same variety of repeated epithet can be seen in ''Sarnath'' – 'e.g. 'sea-green stone idol'', ''the water-lizard Bokrug'' ''the very secret and ancient rite done in detestation of Bokrug, the water-lizard''
''chrysolite'' – a transparent variety of olivine, used as a gemstone, sometimes called peridot. Chemically a silicate of magnesium, the colour ranges from yellowish (hence the name, derived from the Greek χρυσός and λίθος = chrysos and lithos, hence gold-stone) to green. The Britannica recommends that peridot be used of the latter hue. Occurs in the Revelation of John the Apostle 21, v. 20 '' the seventh [gate of the new Jerusalem] chrysolite'', a possible literary source for this particular gem, though both scientific beauty and the elegant Greek name commend it to the dreamer without the religious overtones Lovecraft detested. An altar of chrysolite would be a great wonder as it is found in this world merely as crystals of no great size.
''300 cubits'' – a cubit is a unit of measure commonly met with in antiquity, in theory the length of a man's arm from the elbow to the middle finger. Of course, such measurements would fluctuate and various civilisations established standard cubits, e.g. the Egyptian of c. 20.72 inches, the Sumerian c. 20.42 inches. The notes of the NIV (incidentally, if one wishes to read the Bible as mythology, the unrevised Authorised Version (i.e. the King James Version) is by far and away the best, written in a sonorous and resonant prose) give a Biblical cubit of eighteen inches. It is of course impossible to determine the cubit of Sarnath, but according to each of the lengths given we have walls of 6216 ft, 6126 ft and 5400 ft in height respectively.
To give an impression of the scale and splendour of Sarnath, the Great Pyramid of Gizeh was but 481 ft high.
''75 cubits'' – taking our previous standards, we obtain a breadth of a) 1554 ft b. 1531.5 ft c) 1350 ft. The Via Appia was but fifteen feet broad.
''drave'' – an alternate preterite or past-tense form of to drive, the commonly met-with form is ''drove''.
''full 500 stadia'' – an allusion to the the Roman stadium, Greek stadion, a measure equivalent to the theoretical length of the course run at the Olympiads (hence by extrapolation the terraces to watch the said course being run), six hundred Greek feet (606 English feet).
The walls of Sarnath were thus approximately 303,000 feet long, or 57.4 miles.
''onyx'' – a banded chalcedony or striped agate, consisting of white and either black (onyx) or red-brown (sardonyx) strata. The appearance of the red-brown form, resembling the human nail, likely gave rise of the name (Greek ὄνυξ, onux, a nail).
''chalcedony'' – the ''chalcedony'' of modern mineralogists is a complicated form of silicon dioxide (quartz) , taking the form of many small crystals, encompassing agate, aventurine, cornelian &c. The ''chalcedonius'' of Pliny was a different gem, a green jasper, found in the copper-mines of Chalcedon in Sicily, from whence comes the name.
''beryl'' – a silicate of beryllium and aluminium, the name deriving from the Greek βήρυλλος, beryllos, of doubtful origin. The colour may range from blue through green, yellow, brown or even pink.
''lapis-lazuli'' – a brilliant blue rock (composed of several different minerals) sometimes flecked with iron pyrites, likely the ''sapphire'' of the ancients, especially beloved of the Egyptians as a material for amulets and scarabs. The name is from the Latin, ''lapis'' being stone, ''lazuli'' an attempt to render the Greek λαζούριον (barbarous Latin lazurius, lazulus), which is in turn from the Arabic al-lazward, Persian laijward (the colour blue, lapis-lazuli), related to ''azure'' (barbarous Latin ''azura'').
''sardonyx'' – an onyx possessing white and red or brown strata.
''carbuncle'' – garnet, cut with an oval surface. Latin carbunculus, diminutive of carbo, a live coal.
''a full thousand cubits high'' – using the same standards as previously, either a) 20, 720 feet (3.92 miles), b. 20420 feet (3.87 miles) or c) 18000 feet (3.41 miles) high. By comparison, the Eiffel Tower is but 1064 feet (0.20 miles) high.
''eikons'' – images, likenesses, from Greek εἰκών (image, likeness).
''zircon'' – a crystalline silicate of zirconium, usually brown or red (hyacinth), but orange (jacinth), yellow, green and particoloured forms exist. When heated to a substantial temperature the colour is lost, accompanied by an increase in brilliancy, the resulting stone neing known as a false-diamond or Matura diamons. The name is derived from Arabic ''zargun'', applied to transparent and yellow, green, brown and particoloured zircon in the debased form ''jargoon''.
''fulgent'' – shining, Latin ''fulgeo, fulgere, fulsi', to shine.
''porphyry'' – An igneous rock, the finest being of purple colour. Purple was the colour of royalty in the Roman Empire (cf. porphyrogenitus, ''born in the purple'', that is, in the Porphyry Chamber of the Imperial Palace in Constantinople, loosely applied to a prince of the blood in any state). Greek πορφύρα, porphura, purple.
''ancient wine from the vaults of conquered Pnath'' – a Vale of Pnath is alluded to in ''Kadath'' (it seemed fairly likely that this was the spot into which all the ghouls of the waking world cast the refuse of their feastings). This is a barren place littered with bones and tomb-stones.
''In theory, I am an agnostic, but pending the appearance of radical evidence I must be classed, practically and provisionally, as an atheist.''
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