(urth) Speaking of Hierodules...
jeff.lefstin at stanfordalumni.org
Wed May 24 16:00:59 PDT 2006
I am abashed to reveal that I learned this from "The Da Vinci Code,"
but something that seems to have escaped attention:
Wolfe is misdirecting us a little when he tells us that "hierodule"
means "holy slave." The more specific meaning is "temple prostitute"
in Greek and other pagan religions, and there's no way that's an
accident. According to wikipedia, the act of sex with a hierodule was
known as "hieros gamos":
Hieros Gamos (Greek ιερός γάμος, "holy wedding") or Hierogamy (Greek
ιερογαμία, again "holy wedding") means a coupling (sometimes marriage)
of a god and a man or a woman, often having a symbolic meaning and
generally conducted in the spring. It is an ancient ritual in which
participants believed that they could gain profound religious
experience through sexual intercourse. Participants assumed
characteristics of deities, often channeling the deities in question,
and by their union provided symbolic and literal fertility for
themselves, the land, and their people. This was often done by the
monarch and hierodule of the dominant religion.
Well, that's TBotNS in a nutshell. The fertility of Urth is restored
by the sexual union of Severian ("the monarch") and Apheta, which
conceives the New Sun. (In contrast to the union between Severian and
Valeria, who represents the old & raddled Urth). Yes, I know Apheta is
a larval hierogrammate, not a hierodule, but let's not get inconvenient
facts get in the way. Hierogrammates was an afterthought tacked on in
UotNS, and besides, hierogrammate sounds a lot like "hieros gamos."
Actually, in "Da Vinci Code" Brown talks about "hieros gamos" as a
kabbalistic union of male and female practiced in ancient Jewish
religion, which would mate (ha, ha) quite well with the kabbalistic
context of UotNS. But from what I gather Brown made that aspect up out
of thin air.
And please don't go read the "Da Vinci Code" on account of this. It is
a Really Really Lame piece of literature and you should read the
"non-fiction" books if the whole grail/bloodline/conspiracy stuff
intrigues you. You have been warned.
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