The Count of Years Commentary: 3    [ Text ]

The Iliū

The creation of the iliū

Iriand (V. Iriam) is of unknown origin. So is iliu, though Cuzeians related it to ilaldê 'silver'. Other languages have transparent derivations: Axunašin migume 'water-man', Meťaiun bostumi (Keb. boh'tum) 'sea-dweller', Elkarîl nxilmech 'dawn-walker'.

Iriand was created in the Sea (simply Sīe in Cuêzi, cognate to V. zëi), the Mišicama ocean.

For biological details on the iliū, see The biology of Almea.

The wooing of Alāna

Alāna (V. Aläna) is of unknown origin, though it was traditionally related to alaldas 'star' or ailue 'graceful'.

Deep Lake = Āeti Pose, a translation of Meťaiun Fukai khaičei, Keb. Fugaaźi, V. Fugäži.

Dāurio (Meť. Davrio) is the ancient name of Kebri, a derivation of the Meťaiun kingdom Davur.

Lake of Mists = Āeti Beiriē, Lake Bérunor.

Alāna was created in Deep Lake in Kebri. There were iliu settlements in and around the lake well into historical times, and the chief city on the lake is still known as Boh'tundu 'iliu town'. The couple later lived in Bérunor, a short distance west of Cuzei. Iliū still live in the lake, and maintain a shrine at the location of Iriand's house.

I translated ilenda as 'girl'; in older language we could say 'maiden'. An ilenda is of childbearing age but unmarried-- either a virgin, or deemed to be one by a polite fiction. The Cuzeians used words like ilenda, pomas ('man'), moêle ('woman'), yine, yina ('young boy, girl') for other Thinking Kinds, but usually appended the name of the Kind, as here (ilenda iliute).

The stirring in Iriand's liver is love; the liver was considered the seat of the noble emotions. Similarly the understanding was seated in the brain, the will in the heart, the lesser emotions such as hunger, fear, and pity in the stomach, and the vices in the intestines.

'Come together' (gōutāne) is a common euphemism for sex. The narrative here becomes not euphemistic at all. The Cuzeians were entirely free of the feeling that there is something evil, shameful, or disgusting about sex; they found it right and proper for a holy book to treat the first sexual experience of the Thinking Kinds.

The placing of sex within a committed relationship underlines Cuzeian sexual morality; but the iliū are also known to have long courtships.

Iliu sexuality has fascinated human writers, who have written a good deal of nonsense about it. According to some stories, for instance, a man may sleep with an iliu, and feel the greatest pleasure possible to his being; but the experience will kill him. Others say that he will merely sleep for a year and a day, or become the slave of the iliu, or himself turn into an iliu, or a fish, or a merman.

Even the soberer accounts, however, suggest some differences from humans. Both sexes have additional muscles in the genital region, for instance, which are used to intensify pleasure during sex. (For the females, these are also a defense mechanism; there are tiny, sharp scales along the outside of the labia, which can be shut tight if desired, preventing rape or administering a drastic punishment for it.) Milk and saliva have a sexual role for the iliū, and are produced (with a distinct taste) and shared during sex. It's also said that partners attain a near-telepathic state of communion, so that they can feel each other's sensations.

The three lineages of the iliū

Ambretāu (V. Évetel) is of uncertain meaning, as is Urisama, though some explain it as a corruption of Ulisama 'mirror-bright'. Ambretagō can be translated 'the children of Ambretāu'; the suffix -go names a lineage.

Eruimed = 'red son', Nîiniōre = 'snow beauty', Nîimedi = 'snow sons'.

Gorōdias and Taileluē are of unknown meaning, though tantalizingly close to morphemes such as gori 'voice', lelîyas 'art'. Voruniê is of unknown meaning.

Atêllār = 'lovely place'; Atêllar Namoē 'Atêllār of the Lords' was half-translated into Caďinor as (A)tellar Sannoie, which became V. Telarsanië.

Asicondār 'the place of sea foam': this is a real place, the iliu habitation on the eastern coast of Ereláe, just north of Feináe.

The Count of Years is very concerned with lineages (sodeyi, from soddâ 'inheritance'), which we could also call races or ethnic groups. The Cuzeians liked to derive a lineage from a single great ancestor, and their feeling was that a lineage should be united, ruled by a king (narrûos). The book enumerates the lineages of iliū, elcari, and humans.

The three lineages of iliū described here seem to correpond to the major land habitats in eastern Ereláe: in Telarsanië, on the northern coast, west of Eretald; on the eastern coast, north of Feináe; and in the far northeast, near Leán. (The physical differences described belong to these three areas.) The iliu presently have nine other land habitats, but there must have been more in ancient times.

We cannot yet read Eteodäole, so we don't know how the iliū divide themselves up, if they do. The differences in character between the three lineages-- warriors, artists, and scholars-- is probably a projection of Cuzeian ideals rather than an accurate description of the iliū.

The comment about iliu stories doesn't simply compliment their plausibility; other accounts (such as the one in In the Land of Babblers) describe them as like hallucinations; listening to an iliu story is like sharing a dream.

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