Escape Artists

News:

  • Congratulations to the winners of the Podcastle flash fiction contest!

News

Congratulations to the winners of the Podcastle flash fiction contest!

Author Topic: PC138: Balfour And Meriwether In The Adventure Of The Emperor’s Vengeance  (Read 22209 times)

Wilson Fowlie

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1474
    • The Maple Leaf Singers

"People commonly use the word 'procrastination' to describe what they do on the Internet. It seems to me too mild to describe what's happening as merely not-doing-work. We don't call it procrastination when someone gets drunk instead of working." - Paul Graham


Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
 I was thinking more like the Egyptian pyramids, Pharoah watching over as the slaves move the bricks up there one by one,

It's quite likely the Pyramids (and other similar monuments) weren't built by slave labor.  I mean, any more so than any other endeavor for that time and place.  Many of the workers involved were skilled, and we've got tallies and receipts for wages for various people who worked on big construction projects like that.

And if you think about it, would it make sense for Pharaoh to buy a gajillion slaves, feed and house them in some way--even deliberately substandard rations would be a whole big mess of barley and onions--and then find some way to sell them off when the project was done?  Or feed and house them until the next expensive architectural project?  It makes very little sense.

It makes much better sense to hire laborers when they're available--say, agricultural downtimes--and pay them only while they work for you.  Or, not uncommon for any number of ancient societies, require a certain amount of public labor from every family and use the corvee to do whatever's needed at that particular time.

And given what we know about Egyptian religion, I strongly suspect that it was a great deal more like the situation with European cathedrals, castles, etc.  The laborers were almost certainly paid (barring assistants or indentured servants or bondsmen or what have you, who certainly existed in Medieval Europe, just like yeah, there were slaves in ancient Egypt and they were pretty much everywhere) and almost certainly believed in the worth of what they were doing--for the (G)god(s), for the institutions and ideologies they believed in, for their clan or region or country or tribe or whatever.

I'm sure there were slaves involved in the pyramids' construction, there were slaves all over the ancient world.  But the popular image of thousands of hapless slaves building the pyramids is probably not terribly accurate.


Another thing to remember is that slavery in the ancient near east (probably) isn't what you're thinking of when you think of "slavery." Slaves weren't chattle, they were low-status members of the community who had certain rights. In a lot of cultures, there were limitations on how you could treat your slaves, when (and whether) you could sell them, how long they could be slaves, and how many generations a family could be enslaved. It wasn't great, of course... but it also wasn't anything like, say, American slavery. Again, there probably weren't thousands of hapless slaves toiling in the hot sun.

All right, fair enough.  I don't claim to be an expert about the economics of construction of ancient monuments.  It had just seemed to me, from the bits of information I'd absorbed, that the most impressive monuments were created during times of particularly wide caste separations where the castes in power exploited the lowest castes.  It sounds like you are more informed than I about this subject, and this does not particularly shock me.   ;D



LaShawn

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 550
  • Writer Mommies Rule!
    • The Cafe in the Woods
I'll be the lone dissenter and say that it was hard for me to get into this one. The premise was interesting, but I guess I heard it before. I was sort of half listening to it as I worked. Probably something I would pay better attention to if I read it instead.

--
Visit LaShawn at The Cafe in the Woods:
http://tbonecafe.wordpress.com
Another writer's antiblog: In Touch With Yours Truly


Fenrix

  • Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 3977
  • I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
I won't let LaShawn be the lone dissenter. I didn't really dig this one, although I did like the Vampire of Kabul.

The denouement was incredibly subtle and it brought the story up a notch or two for me. But the buildup to that was a relatively unsubtle story. This was the Good and Righteous Servants of the Queen (and a Jew) fighting SkyNet to prevent the termination of all humanity. Also there were a couple spots that seemed a bit racially/culturally insensitive, and although appropriate for the antiquarian style of the story, I'm surprised no one's tee'd off about them. I have to admit, I wandered off a time or two in this story while in my head Alasdair narrated a White Street Society story about the Zionist Threat.

Nothing wrong with Good beats Evil while Looking Cool, but it's not going to get my vote for the Best of PodCastle 2011.

 

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


DKT

  • Friendly Neighborhood
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4980
  • PodCastle is my Co-Pilot
    • Psalms & Hymns & Spiritual Noir
Also there were a couple spots that seemed a bit racially/culturally insensitive, and although appropriate for the antiquarian style of the story, I'm surprised no one's tee'd off about them. I have to admit, I wandered off a time or two in this story while in my head Alasdair narrated a White Street Society story about the Zionist Threat.

Oh, I think those shots were totally intentional criticisms of the time and style (at least from my perspective) - as much as anything the White Street Society stories (which I adore). It was just done in a completely different tone than tongue in cheek.