Sunday, November 02, 2003

Love of a Stranger: Quotes From "Eaters Of The Dead"

The book Eaters of the Dead is science fiction novel based on an ancient manuscript by the Arabian traveler Ibn Fadlan, who before A.D. 922 encountered the Vikings. The style of the original manuscript is preserved in the book, as well as great regard to historical details. This story served as a basis for the script for the movie 13th Warrior.

AUTHOR: Michael Crichton
MAIN TITLE: Eaters Of The Dead
Date: 1976
PUBLISHER: New York, Ballantine Books

p. 66
Chastity among women is said to be a great virtue, but seldom did I see it practiced, for adultery is not accounted as any great matter, and if the wife of any man, low or high, is lusty, the outcome is not thought remarkable. These people are very free in such matters, and the men of the North say that women are devious and cannot be trusted; to this they appear resigned, and speak of it with their usual cheerful demeanor.

I inquired of Herger if he was married, and he said that he had a wife. I inquired with all discretion if she were chaste, and he laughed in my face and said to me: "I sail upon the seas, and I may never return, or I may be absent for many years. My wife is not dead." From this, I took the meaning that she was unfaitful to him, and he did not care.


Herger made this reply: "The women believe that the Arabs are as stalions, for so they have heard as a roumor." Nor was this any amazement to me, for this reason: in all the lands I have traveled, and so also within the round walls of the City of Peace, verily in every location where men gather and make for themselves a society, I have learned these things to be truths. First, that the peoples of a particular land believe their customs to be fitting and proper and better than any other. Second, that any stranger, a man or also a woman, is accounted inferior in all ways save in the matter of generation. This the Turks believe the Persians gifted lovers; the Persians stand in awe of the black-skinned peoples; and they in turn of some others, severally; and so it continues, sometimes by reason given of proportion of genetalia, sometimes by reason given of endurance of the act, sometimes by reason given of especial skill or posturing.

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