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I was a huge fan of HBO's Rome. This clip is from the DVD extras, and it does a really good job of illustrating slavery in Rome -- which coincidentally is a lot like slavery in Edessa. Eunuchs are a kind of body slave.

embedded clip under cut )
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Kleistans get a really bad rap as mercenaries and thugs -- and, okay, it’s mostly deserved -- but they’re actually a really complex culture. Read more... )
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Horse racing is to Edessa as football is to Britain, complete with hooligans and after-race riots. Read more... )

Titles

Sep. 23rd, 2009 09:48 am
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Here's a breakdown of Edessan titles. There are quite a few titles not used in the book, mostly military and religious titles.

Read more... )
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Religion

Sep. 11th, 2009 11:58 am
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Edessans are polytheistic, and they've never met a ceremony or religious service they didn't like. Most of their piety is for show, however. They don't really emphasize personal belief -- it's okay if you don't believe in the gods, so long as you make the right offerings and show your face in the right churches. Edessans tend to pick one god or goddess with whom they feel a particular affinity and worship them especially. The major Houses also practice ancestor worship. Morality and religion are almost completely separate in Edessan culture. A goddess might smite you for failing to offer her a proper sacrifice, but not because you're a philanderer or murderer.

A (very) brief list of Edessan deities and their specialties:

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The Edessan calendar is complicated, but here's a rundown.

A year is made up of four season, each of ninety days. Between each season is a day outside of the calendar. On these days no business is conducted and no marriages are performed. Children born on these in-between days are considered unlucky. Every now and again the standing ruler will tack on more of these days so that the solstices fall where they ought.

The first (priman), thirtieth (trian), sixtieth (exsen) and ninetieth (teleuten) day of a season are used for marking dates. I.E. “four days after the Trian of Ardalia”, “the day before the Exsen of Theros”. The New Year begins on the Priman of Hylous (first day of spring).

Here is a table that (very roughly) compares the Edessan and Gregorian calendars:Read more... )

Whew, yeah, there's a reason I pretty much hand-wave time whenever it comes up. I swear I didn't set out to make everything convoluted. Convolution just seems to happen to me.
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Edessan fashion fairly unisex; the most basic garment being a tunic. Under tunics are usually longer and lighter than over tunics and usually in a contrasting color. Linen and wool most commonly materials. The very richest also wear imported silk and cotton.

They have dyes in just about every color: blues, reds, yellows, purples, greens, etc, but most of these are extremely expensive and only worn by the richest. The poorer classes wear undyed clothing, black, brown, dark reds and blues. Sandals are common, as well as boots. Going barefoot in the house is customary. Hairstyles among the rich tend to be long and elaborate, with more sensible styles among the working class.

Wives wear veils in public, generally a rectangle of light cotton or silk worn draped over the hair and around the shoulders. It can be drawn down to obscure the face, but usually isn’t. Bright colors and patterns are favored. Loukas might wear a longer, darker and more restrictive garment among the rabble, a lighter, looser veil at the races and more formal ceremonies; at home or the home of friends and while riding in the country he wouldn’t wear a veil at all.

Every few years the Council tries to crack down on skimpy veils and wifely modesty, but the reforms never last for long.

Ear piercings are worn by just about everyone over the age of five. Nose piercings are worn by prostitutes as an indication of their trade. Now, because I love shiny things, have some Edessan-style jewelry:

This stuff can't be comfortable to wear ... )

Time

Jul. 24th, 2009 12:45 pm
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Edessans measure time in horai (sing. hora). There are sixteen horai – eight during the day and eight during the night. The actual span of time encompassed in an hora changes during the year depending on how much day light there is. During the summer, daylight horai are longer and during the winter they are shorter. A hora is about an hour and a half long. Half an hora is about 45 minutes – no matter what time of year. During the sixth hora, most business shuts down for lunch and a long nap.

1st hora – starts at dawn
5th hora – starts at midday
9th hora – starts at dusk
13th hora – starts at midnight

Understandably, Edessans are not a very punctual people. If a meeting starts within half-an-hora of when it was supposed to, you're doing pretty good.


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The Edessans consider three parts to the person – the mind, the body and the spirit. Archons are supposed to excel in all three areas. Perfection is the goal, though granted, one rarely attained. To be perfect in the mind includes both education and intelligence. Children of the ruling class study literature, astronomy, art, dance, music, mathematics and rhetoric. Perfection of the body includes both ability in athletics and being of a sound constitution, but also beauty – which the Edessans value highly. As for the spirit, Edessans are less concerned with internal beliefs, but external actions. That is, you can be an atheist, but as long as you attend the right services and make the right sacrifices, you’re considered pious.

 

And more important than being all of these things is proving to other people that you are.

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Inheritance. The Edessans have raised the practice of establishing an heir to something of a sport. Speculating on the subject is one of their favorite topics of conversation, as are potential marriages and betting when the emperor will finally kick the bucket. Debating whether or not it will rain takes a very poor fourth.

Edessans believe a mother contributes more to the constitution of her offspring and therefore the mother's bloodlines must be strong, whereas a weak father might be overcome. Loukas and Eleutherios are both children “of the blood,” meaning that they were carried by Eugenia herself rather than one of her wives.

This puts Loukas and Eleutherios in a privileged position in the inheritance game. The rest of their siblings have Kommene blood, but only through one of Eugenia's brothers, set with the task of impregnating her wives. This gives them a better chance at inheriting than their siblings and Loukas has a better chance still by mere fact that he is older. Edessans don't use birth order to establish inheritance, but all else being equal, they'll choose the oldest worthy sibling.

Male husbands are at a disadvantage in this respect as none of their children have the full advantage of their blood. They are particularly careful in choosing female wives so as not to introduce weakness to the line. They may also occasionally adopt the child of a sister.

An archon need not formally declare an heir. Some put it in their will but refuse to tell anyone who, thereby guaranteeing their children's good behavior. Some declare one early in order to groom them for the position. If they do declare an heir, a small ceremony is held, the child's name is recorded in the records hall and the child is given the title elarchon.

Both Loukas and Eleutherios are gunning for that position, and the older they get, the fiercer the competition becomes.
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