Still continuing to break down the Semiramide backstory. Which is not only a murder mystery, but also a political thriller, involving two major castes struggling for power in ancient Babylon of, roughly, 850 B.C. According to wiki, the Assyrian Empire existed from around 2500 B.C. until its collapse around 600 B.C. Geographically, it was centered on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in what is modern-day Iraq, parts of Syria, Turkey and even fringes of Persia. “At its peak, the Assyrian empire stretched from Cyprus and the East Mediterranean to Iran, and from what is now Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus, to the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt and eastern Libya.” Voltaire showcased this geographical and ethnic diversity by having his Scythian hero, Arsaces, hail from the Caucasus region. Well, as we have subsequently learned, Arsaces is actually the Assyrian Prince Ninias in disguise, but even he doesn’t remember that, as he was just a toddler when he was whisked away and adopted by Phradates. Uncle Phradates raised him as a Scythian cavalry officer, so presumably he is fluent in both Scythian and Semitic. And people say his Persian was passable, as well.
Wiki again: The Semitic-speaking Assyria “was at the height of technological, scientific and cultural achievements for its time.” These technological achievements are showcased in Rossini’s opera when he shows Queen Semiramide sitting at her desk and using her cellphone to text Assur — JUST KIDDING! She writes a letter to him on papyrus, with ink-pot and a crow’s quill for a pen.
However, I am not completely kidding when I stress the technological achievements of the Assyrians: They were certainly capable of building trap doors and underground tunnels, and this will come into play later, when I make some bold claims about the so-called “Ghost of Ninus”.
But returning to our Game of Thrones and the two warring castes. One of the castes being the Warrior Nobility, whose flag-bearer is Assur, of the House of Belus. When Assur and Queen Shammuramat poisoned her husband, King Ninus, 15 years ago, ASS-ur just ASS-umed that Shammy would subsquently marry HIM and hand over the throne. Ancient Assyrians were still at the stage where they would accept a Moor to rule over them, but not a white woman. Unfortunately for Assur, Shammy kept delaying her abdication — not unlike the Queen of England! Using tactics of Creative Procrastination, she clung to power and ruled alone for 15 years, forcing a disappointed Assur to plot a different way to the throne: Namely, by marrying his own kinswoman Princess Azema, who is young enough to be his daughter — but don’t panic, she is not ACTUALLY his daughter — there is only ONE incest in this play, namely Shammy and her son — and thus forcing Shammy to abdicate.
This being a Marxist analysis, based on sound principles of dialectical-materialism, I am going to stipulate that Assur and his allies in the noble houses and army represent the land-owning ruling class. Or the slave-owning ruling class. Whatever it was that they had back in those days: Slaves, lands, ziggurats, gold, frankincense, whatever.
The other wing of the ruling class is represented by the Priestly or Magi caste. Christians know of the Magi, because these are the same guys who brought Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh to the Baby Jesus. These Assyrian Magi abhor Assur and the House of Belus. They will do whatever it takes to thwart his evil scheme and put the House of Ninus back on the throne. Please recall that the word Magi is the root of our current word “magician”, and not without cause. These ancient Magi knew tricks that Houdini would envy. They were especially good at performing illusions and special effects at big public spectacles… All the better to wow the hoi polloi and achieve their political-religious aims.
In Voltaire’s story, the Magi are the good guys. Under the benign leadership of High Priest Speedo, they know everything that is going on, they understand the backstory, they know about the murder and whodunnit, they give good advice to the Queen, and they conspire to resolve the political crisis. Voltaire’s attitude is understandable, in terms of his own political philosophy: This French kreakle believed that human progress was ensured by the rule of so-called “Enlightened Despots”, provided those despots surround themselves with, and take the advice of, philosophers such as himself! Hence, he identified with the Magi. But my own advice to Enlightened Despots is this: “Beware the Magi!” They may be smart, but they always have their own agenda, they will throw you under the bus in a second, just like they threw Shammy, if they think that’s what they have to do. Recall that even those benevolent “Wise Men” who brought birthday gifts to Baby Jesus, had a trick up their tunics: The Gold and Frankincense were not-bad presents for a young baby, but they also brought Myrrh, as a kind of joke gift. Like, hinting to Jesus: “You’re gonna die and be put in a tomb, little dude…”
Next: We get down to business with the purloined letter from Phradates, the pronouncement of the Libyan oracle, and the first appearance of the so-called Ghost!
[to be continued]