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Friday, September 16, 2011

Of Pythia and Her Book

Pythia is, of course, a frequently referred to person in BSG.  Her contribution to the Sacred Scrolls influences much of what happens and she's the only named author of those Scrolls in the show.  Since my books take place during the time of the Lords and that's when Pythia lived, I knew I would have to include her as a character.

As you've seen in Lords of Kobol - Book One: Apotheosis, I decided to use her as a framing device, for all intents and purposes.  I depict her as a young woman in the priesthood, high off her ass on chamalla so she may channel whatever powers she has and being visited by her ex-fiancé, who is intent on dispensing loads of information for her to transcribe.  (If you've read it, you likely already know the truth of Ino, the fiancé.)  She also bookends the forthcoming Book Three: The Final Exodus.  Some might be disappointed to know that she's not more heavily featured, but I believe she serves her purposes well in these small doses.

Now, about Pythia.  The show vacillates a bunch on how much she wrote, what she wrote, how much was prophecy and how much wasn't, did she write all that stuff about the Thirteenth Tribe, etc.  I had to make some choices and I decided to draw from real-world history when it comes to religious texts.

You ever hear of the Council of Nicea or the Council of Trent?  These were two conventions (among others)  of Christian leaders as they huddled up to decide what they really believed.  As they decided what they liked about their church's history, they tossed aside a bunch of stuff they didn't (look up Lost Gospels).  Point being, even Holy Bibles and Sacred Scrolls have editors.  In order to make Pythia get credit for writing stuff she couldn't have known about (like Athena's suicide) and not simply saying, "Oh, she's a prophet," I thought the most credible thing to do was say that she was an editor and compiler of the Sacred Scrolls, like a one-woman Council of Trent.  That way, even with her own contributions to the Scrolls, it's easy to see why people might make the mistake of assuming she wrote all of it.

Long winded, I know.  Here's the fun stuff.  You saw in a previous post how I used Propworx to find a good Kobollian eagle for my art.  I used them again to find awesomeness in the form of the Sacred Scrolls, namely the Book of Pythia:

If you click that pic, you'll see that someone added a pullquote referring to the Temple of Five (nee Temple of Hopes) for use in those Algae Planet episodes.  But if you read the stuff around it, it's all Final Exodus stuff.

Even though the screen-used prop states that this is from the Book of Pythia, I don't necessarily believe that means it's purely canon.  And if it is, then my editor/compiler excuse can come into play.  Here's a portion of that text, which appears only very slightly altered in Book Three:

They huddled together on the shores waiting to board the Great Ship Galleon.  They brought with them as much of their worldly possessions as the could hold.  Most had nothing but for what they had in their hearts.  Large and small they began to move, lining up they spoke aloud of their name and heritage one at a time as if this were their sole possession, a final piece of KOBOL that they were not to leave behind.  They were ready.
And on the Cliffs of Aragon, the Gods gathered and bore witness to the gathering below.  They watched as each member of each tribe walked up the gantry, turning only once to say farewell to the lords they knew they will never see again.  Though heavy of heart, they continued to board all through ...

Again, I placed that whole passage (with only minor tweaks) in Book Three, so credit to the writer or props guy who came up with that.

Since I'm standing by my interpretation that Pythia herself did not write these very detailed passages on the Final Exodus 1,600 years before it happened, someone had to be there to witness it and survive to write about it later.  Thus, I created the character Alexandra Gideon.  She's named "Gideon," and not after the Old Testament bloke who needed a bunch of proofs from YHWH, who slew pagan hordes and even his own people, who destroyed places of Baal worship, who bore lanterns and blew horns, etc.  No, she's named "Gideon" because that name popped up a couple of times in Caprica and was the name of a transport ship in the ragtag fleet of Battlestar Galactica.  I figured it bore some significance.

Another Pythia-related tidbit on Earth I (that's Cylon Earth and not Earth II, on which we reside): in the Sacred Scrolls there is a picture of the Temple of Aurora, and since that's the only god mentioned in relation to the Thirteenth Tribe, that's why I have Aurora playing such a large role with the Thirteenth Tribe's exodus in Book One.

OK, so here's some more Pythia stuff.

I'm working on something ... different.  Pythia plays a larger part in it, and here's a taste:

One priest became confused and he stood from the floor.  "Oracle, you have muddled your words.  You speak of things that have happened and yet also of things that will.  Which shall it be?"

"Both," Pythia said.  At this was the crowd surprised and they spoke among themselves.  "My words are a history and a prophecy."

"You spoke of the dying leader," an elder said.  "Are you saying that Eos did not live to see Earth?"

"I speak of Daedalus.  He passed away on a world between Kobol and Earth."  The people did not know of Daedalus and they were befuddled again.  Pythia drank and looked out of her temple toward the horizon.  "And I speak of other leaders yet to come."

More priests began to stand and protest.  One alone was louder than the rest and his voice carried the most.  "You have demonstrated your vision in the past and we hold you in high esteem, oracle, yet we find it difficult to believe that your recounting of events long past can transpire again centuries from now."  Many of the assembled agreed and spoke like utterances.

Pythia nodded for she understood their doubts.  "All beings in all times and in all places have their roles in the will of … the gods.  They play their parts as actors upon a stage whether they know this or not.  Whether they heed the histories or are wholly ignorant of them, this life has a cycle and it will carry on beyond mine own vision."

The priest spoke again, "I still do not understand, oracle."

Pythia wiped sweat from her brow and leaned forward, saying angrily, "Then let me simplify it for you, dullard.  All these things have happened before and all these things shall happen again."

More on that project some other time ...


  1. Been thinking about the Final Exodus, a lot actually.. Noticed where you parenthicied(I love making my own words)nuclear as a possible reason for the fire they were escaping. Although plausible, it doesn't feel likely that the gods would have allowed nuclear proliferation in their rather tightly controlled experiment. Especially considering that their own escape was from a nuclear war. Now, an uprising of the fembots is still likely, why they didn't learn from that mistake I don't know, but there wouldn't be a story if they had, cycles and all that. The people have become rather sedentary in the final years leading up to the exodus, unless something changed. But, it just feels that the proverbial fire lit under their asses to get them moving, is the one they are about to flee from. Excited to find out how you navigate this one. Also curious to know, have you plans to carry on past the exodus? Perhaps up to where Caprica started with Greystone's invention of Zoey 1.1? Oilfielddoc

  2. Jon>> Noticed where you parenthicied nuclear as a possible reason for the fire they were escaping. Although plausible, it doesn't feel likely that the gods would have allowed nuclear proliferation in their rather tightly controlled experiment.

    Very true. It's something I considered heavily before writing Book Three and ... I won't give much away here. I'll only say it's addressed and it makes sense.

  3. Jon>> Also curious to know, have you plans to carry on past the exodus? Perhaps up to where Caprica started with Greystone's invention of Zoey 1.1?

    I do have plans and they will be revealed after Book Three goes live in a few weeks. (Preview: yes, kinda, I do want to keep going.)

  4. hi, we have a conworlding group on fb (constructed worlds, fiction, world building etc.) and we would love to have you as a member.