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‘The Spoils of War’
Considering The Shadow of the Vulture by Robert E. Howard
“Suleyman was blinding the eyes of the world with the blaze of his wealth and glory, and striving to make himself believe he had actually accomplished all he had intended… Behind the throne shone the spoils of war—silken and velvet pavilions wrested from the Persians…vests of Venetian velvet, golden goblets crusted with jewels from the Grand Moghul, ermine-lined kaftans from Erzeroum…shields of Indian steel, rare furs from Mongolia. The throne was flanked on either hand by long ranks of youthful slaves…”
-from Chapter 7
Suleyman the Magnificent was the remorseless besieger of Rhodes, Vienna and Malta, a man who would spend tens of thousands of lives to satiate his unbounded will. He had rebuilt the Ottoman Empire after his ancestor met with disaster at the hands of Tamerlane [a similar figure to Suleyman] a generation earlier. Newly come to empire as a people, the Ottoman’s, Usurpers of Hellenic Rome, occupied the very same region that hosts many of the ancient epics, all of which honored the migrations of the poet’s distant ancestors to some extent. The most migratory ancient epic was the Aeneid, which began right across the straights from where Suleyman ruled, and ruled just as the Aryans had who had preceded his people from the steppes ages earlier, as collectors of the people and things of diverse and distant lands, a kind of record of the willful life of a conquering people.
Just as the Inca messenger employed knotted chords as mnemonic devices, the Iroquois warrior interpreted the scalp lock of his fallen enemy to divine something of his foe and the Polynesian divined a travel tale from the charms adorning a kulla fetish, a king, a tribe a people might build a living history exhibit with the plunder of conquest.
Is it so different today, with the U.S.A.s “invade the world invite the world” foreign policy which guaranteed since 1903 that whatever nation gets invaded by the United States sends immigrants to the invading country to replace indigenous workers and serve the conquering state as an army of occupation on the neck of indigenous slaves?
It seems far-fetched to the postmodern mind that we might, as a collective culture, subconsciously demonstrate behaviors engrained in our ancestors ages ago through their long wanderings. At its root, the story of every martial people is an Exodus tale. All of the invaders of Europe out of the steppes up until A.D 1200 had actually been defeated by some other tribe and then took up wandering and invading as a means of avoiding conquest and remaining a distinct folk. First and chief among these, first to domesticate the horse and the hound, where the Aryans, the War Bands, defined not by territory but by action. They influenced the course of civilization from North China to Upper Egypt and were followed in their ways and means by Asiatic nomads, last among them in the West, the Turks and in the Southeast the Moghuls and in the far Northeast the Manchus.
Rome rotted from within as it sought foods, animals for the games and slaves from every corner of the world, importing the bio-plagues that would decimate its population and require population replacement from the ranks of its barbarian enemies. Is America that different, with each of its major cities hosting eateries featuring cuisine from every corner of the world, non-native underclasses replacing the natives who are suffering from a chemical plague spearheaded by the same dream drug that was used to intoxicate the warriors of Knossos even as the War Bands led their horses into their hollow ships to invade the Imperial Isle?
As the first volume of this work details the methods of ancient fighting men with an eye on deeper things, we should not loose trace of the path we are trying to chart. For this reason, all four volumes of this work will be interlaced with episodic impressions of The Aeneid. But first, we should take three contextual looks at migratory war stories:
-Stone Age Amerindian migration under Aryan influence, the story of the Sacred Ravens, or Absoroka, also known as the Crow Indians
-The diffusion of Aryan warfare, the earliest war poem of ancient China
-The end game of Aryan warfare, A Great War homecoming story by Ernest Hemingway
The remaining three volumes will attempt to detail how we humans progressed from the Stone Age to the Information Age on the backs of our varied beasts.
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