Difference between revisions of "Sacred Scrolls"

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The Sacred Scrolls have been seen as an actual, ornate scroll (similar to a [[Wikipedia:Torah|torah]], as shown in the [[Miniseries]]), as well as a series of flat papers and books ([[Home, Part II]]). The total volume of the Scrolls has not been revealed, so it is possible (albeit improbable) that the scroll that [[Elosha]] holds in the [[Miniseries]] as she swears in President Roslin and holds during the Service for the Dead may make up only a portion of the total texts, or key books from the works.
 
The Sacred Scrolls have been seen as an actual, ornate scroll (similar to a [[Wikipedia:Torah|torah]], as shown in the [[Miniseries]]), as well as a series of flat papers and books ([[Home, Part II]]). The total volume of the Scrolls has not been revealed, so it is possible (albeit improbable) that the scroll that [[Elosha]] holds in the [[Miniseries]] as she swears in President Roslin and holds during the Service for the Dead may make up only a portion of the total texts, or key books from the works.
  
Much of the Scrolls appear to be handwritten. While the technology of the Twelve Colonies obviously support electronic printing and reproduction, it may be that the most authentic copies of the sacred texts are either authentic reproductions from a handwritten copy, or genuine handwritten copies. This practice may be for reasons of authenticity, custom, or aesthetics. The practice is similar to the work and purposes of the [[Wikipedia:Scribes|scribes]] before the invention of the printing press in real-Earth history. For comparison, a extreme example of the tradition of handwritten sacred texts in real-Earth history are the [[Wikipedia:Sefer Torah|sefer Torahs]].
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Much of the Scrolls appear to be handwritten. While the technology of the Twelve Colonies obviously support electronic printing and reproduction, it may be that the most authentic copies of the sacred texts are either authentic reproductions from a handwritten copy, or genuine handwritten copies. This practice may be for reasons of authenticity, custom, or aesthetics. The practice is similar to the work and purposes of the [[Wikipedia:Scribes|scribes]] before the invention of the printing press in real-Earth history. For comparison, an extreme example of the tradition of handwritten sacred texts in real-Earth history are the [[Wikipedia:Sefer Torah|sefer Torahs]].
  
 
===General Questions===
 
===General Questions===

Revision as of 11:51, 22 July 2006

A portion of the Sacred Scrolls, specifically, a portion of the Book of Pythia.

The Sacred Scrolls are a set of writings the form the basis of Colonial religion, a polytheistic faith resembling the legends of ancient Greece. The scrolls record much of the alleged history of humanity, including life on Kobol before the great exodus, and the legend of Earth. Portions of the scrolls are used in religious ceremonies, such as the Service of the Dead (Miniseries, Act of Contrition).

Most notable among the Sacred Scrolls is the Book of Pythia, also referred to as the Pythian Prophecy. Written 3,600 years ago by the oracle Pythia, they are believed by some to foretell the current exodus from the Twelve Colonies.

Contents

The contents of the Sacred Scrolls have only been revealed to us in glimpses, through brief quotes, paraphrases and explanations throughout the series. This section serves to catalog those snippets, and is followed by more detailed analysis.

The Book of Pythia

Roslin: Who is Pythia?
Elosha: One of the oracles in the sacred scrolls. 3,600 years ago. Pythia wrote about the exile and rebirth of the human race. (The Hand of God)

The Cycle of Time

Leoben: "All this has happened before, and all of it will happen again." (Flesh and Bone)
Six: "All this has happened before, and all this will happen again." (The Hand of God)
Roslin: If you believe in the gods, then you believe in the cycle of time that we are all playing our parts in a story that is told again, and again, and again throughout eternity. (Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part I)

The Dying Leader

Elosha: "And the lords anointed a leader to guide the Caravan of the Heavens to their new homeland." (The Hand of God)
Elosha: She also wrote that the new leader suffered a wasting disease and would not live to enter the new land. (The Hand of God)
Roslin: The scriptures tell us a dying leader lead humanity to the promised land. (Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part I)

A Vision of Serpents

Elosha: "And unto the leader they gave a vision of serpents numbering two and ten, as a sign of things to come." (The Hand of God)

The Serpents Lead the People Into Battle?

Six: "Led by serpents numbering two and ten..." (fragment) (The Hand of God)

A Confrontation at the Home of the Gods

Six: "Though the outcome favored the few, it led to a confrontation at the home of the gods." (The Hand of God)

The Lower Demon

Elosha: The scrolls of Pythia do speak of a lower demon, who helped the people in a time of crisis. (Home, Part I)

The Blaze and the High Road

Elosha: "And the blaze pursued them, and the people of Kobol had a choice. To board the great ship, or take the high road through the rocky ridge."
Valerii (continuing): "And the body of each tribe's leader was offered to the gods in the tomb of Athena." And the great ship was the galleon that departed from here, where we're standing. And it took the founders of the thirteen colonies to their destiny. And those that didn't board the galleon took the high road, a rocky ridge that lead to the tomb. (Home, Part I)
Elosha: The path is supposed to be marked by gravestones. (Home, Part I)

The Gates of Hera

Valerii: That's the spot where your god supposedly stood and watched Athena throw herself down onto the rocks below, out of despair over the Exodus of the thirteen tribes. Athena's tomb, whoever or whatever she really was, is probably up there. (Home, Part II)

The Arrow of Apollo

Roslin: "And the Arrow of Apollo will open the Tomb of Athena." (Home, Part II)
Elosha: The scriptures tell us that Kobol points the way to Earth. (Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part I)
Roslin: According to the scriptures, if we had the arrow of Apollo we could take it down to Kobol and we could use it to open the tomb of Athena and find our way to Earth. (Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part I)

Kobol and the Blood Price

Adama: "And Zeus warned the leaders of the twelve tribes that any return to Kobol would exact a price in blood." (Home, Part II)

History

Pre-Exodus

Elosha: This place is Kobol... birthplace of mankind, where the gods and men lived in paradise until the exodus of the thirteen tribes. (Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part I)

The Exodus

Elosha: How old are the ruins?
Billy: Well, we won't know for sure until we send a ground team, but the initial estimates have it on the order of approximately 2,000 years.
Elosha: That's around the time the thirteen tribes first left Kobol. (Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part I)

The Thirteenth Tribe on Earth

Starbuck: The scriptures say that when the thirteenth tribe landed on Earth, they looked up into the heavens and they saw their twelve brothers. (Home, Part II)

Sayings

Adama: "The gods shall lift those who lift each other." (Home, Part II)
Cavil: "The gods lift up those who lift each other." (Lay Down Your Burdens, Part I)
These sayings are similar to the Algernon Sydney quote "God helps those who help themselves".

Notes

The Cycle of Time is apparently a key component of Colonial theology. The notion of a circular progression of time (also known as eternal return or eternal recurrence) is foreign to the ancient Greek religion of which Colonial religion are largely based, but it is a common theme in other religions. Some Hindus believe in an endless cycle of ages called Yugas. The ancient Maya people, as well as the Incas and Aztecs also believed in the circular nature of time. In philosophy, the Stoics, a movement originating in ancient Greece, held the doctrine. In the nineteenth century, the doctrine appears in the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche as a method of life-affirmation.

The book of Pythia, which contains or is identical to the Pythian Prophecy, was written 1,600 years before the exodus of the thirteen tribes from Kobol, and yet it apparently contains a detailed narrative of the events of the Exodus, and continues to be interpreted as a source of prophecy 2,000 years after its prophecies have (apparently) already been fulfilled. We may thus interpret the entire text as a prophecy, since the events it describes can be firmly dated to a point well after its text was written.

Analysis

Correspondences

Assuming the events following the Fall of the Twelve Colonies are a repetition of the events predicted by Pythia, and which came to pass centuries later, we can make use of the prophecy by first constructing a coherent historical narrative from them and then looking for correspondences with the events of the series.

The "One Exodus" Interpretation

This interpretation assumes that the timeline is recurring on a scale of 1,600 to 2,000 years, and the exodus from Kobol is directly parellel to the exodus from the Twelve Colonies. It also makes some correspondences in addition to those above:

  • The "Blaze" identified by Sharon Valerii is an earlier parallel to the cylon attack. The hostile force is the "jealous God", the Lord of Kobol that tried to elevate himself over the others.
  • The Home of the Gods is Kobol, and the people of Kobol are the Twelve Colonies, in a somewhat metaphorical sense.

The timeline would procede thus:

  1. The people of Kobol lived in divine utopia with their gods.
  2. A hostile force - of which "the blaze" and the "lower demon" were parts - moves against the people of Kobol.
  3. The gods appoint a leader afflicted with a wasting disease to lead a "caravan of the heavens".
  4. The leader, with the aid of twelve "serpents", wins a perilous battle.
  5. The people make their way to the "home of the gods".
  6. Athena despairs and commits suicide.
  7. The leaders of the people are taken to the Tomb of Athena to be sacrificed to the remaining gods.
  8. The body of the people depart in a "galleon" for the colonies.
  9. Instructions are left to open the Tomb of Athena.
  10. Zeus warns against a return to Kobol.
  11. The twelve tribes settle on the Twelve Colonies. The thirteen tribe settles on Earth.

Questions and Predictions:

  • Can Earth be at once the "promised land" in this iteration and the last?
  • Can we expect the deaths of the leaders of the tribes (the Quorum of Twelve?) to propitiate the Gods?

This history is admittedly not especially coherent, but suggests the possibility of predicting at least some unfulfilled pieces of scripture. Another interpretation which deals with the repetition of historical events on a larger scale is offered below.

The "Three Exodi" Interpretation

This interpretation does not assume that the flight from the Twelve Colonies mirror the original exodus from Kobol. Instead, it assumes that these two exodi are part of the same event-continuum and posits a third, implied, exodus. Like the "One Exodus" interpretation, this one assumes that Pythia's prophecies have and will come true. Below is the proposed order of events for Pythia's prophecies:

  1. The people of Kobol live in divine utopia with their Gods.
  2. The "blaze" moves against the people of Kobol.
  3. The body of the people depart in a "galleon" for the colonies (the four inset items are roughly concurrent).
    • Athena despairs and commits suicide.
    • The leaders of the people are taken to the Tomb of Athena to be sacrificed to the remaining gods.
    • Instructions are left to open the Tomb of Athena.
    • Zeus warns against a return to Kobol.
  4. The twelve tribes settle on the Twelve Colonies. The thirteen tribe settles on Earth.
  5. The Cylons decimate the Twelve Colonies (Whether this is prophesied is unknown, but this clearly happened).
  6. The gods appoint a leader afflicted with a wasting disease to lead a "caravan of the heavens".
  7. The leader, with the aid of twelve "serpents", wins a perilous battle.
  8. The people make their way to the "home of the gods".
  9. A "lower demon" helps the people of Kobol find the Tomb of Athena.

Note, too, that this is only a part of the story according to the "Three Exodi" interpretation. It assumes that passages not yet revealed in the series outline (however vaguely) the finding of Earth and some time spent there, and then an event that spurs a migration back to Kobol. In this interpretation, the people of Kobol are actually the remnants of the Twelve Colonies, both their descendants and their ancestors. From there, the cycle starts again. The cycle is much longer in this interpretation (roughly 4,000 years, as opposed to roughly 1,600-2,000 years)

It is helpful to think of no particular part as the beginning. This is how the pictures of the constellations (only visible from Earth) would be accessible to the people of Kobol "before" any of them had been to Earth. It also explains how the Scrolls can speak about the fate of the Thirteenth Colony and yet be in the possession of people from the Twelve Colonies. In fact, when Pythia was writing about the events in the show, she might have been recording fairly-recent history, rather that far-future prophesy. The vagueness would be mostly due to nearly 4,000 years of linguistic drift, rather than due to the mists of prophecy.

Basically, this interpretation asserts a roughly 3,600-4,000 year cycle which can be illustrated by this crude flow-chart:<br\> Kobol > Colonies, Colonies > Earth, Earth > Kobol

The Form of the Scrolls

The Sacred Scrolls have been seen as an actual, ornate scroll (similar to a torah, as shown in the Miniseries), as well as a series of flat papers and books (Home, Part II). The total volume of the Scrolls has not been revealed, so it is possible (albeit improbable) that the scroll that Elosha holds in the Miniseries as she swears in President Roslin and holds during the Service for the Dead may make up only a portion of the total texts, or key books from the works.

Much of the Scrolls appear to be handwritten. While the technology of the Twelve Colonies obviously support electronic printing and reproduction, it may be that the most authentic copies of the sacred texts are either authentic reproductions from a handwritten copy, or genuine handwritten copies. This practice may be for reasons of authenticity, custom, or aesthetics. The practice is similar to the work and purposes of the scribes before the invention of the printing press in real-Earth history. For comparison, an extreme example of the tradition of handwritten sacred texts in real-Earth history are the sefer Torahs.

General Questions

  • Are the Lords of Kobol still an agentive force in this iteration of the cycle?
  • Who were the Lords of Kobol? The Caprica Valerii does not deny their existence, and the Tomb of Athena strongly attests to her life and death, but she does not believe they were gods. They were evidently distraught at the calamity which befell their people. Who was responsible for it, and why were the gods powerless to intervene?
  • Which god was the "jeaous god" that sought to be raised above the others?
  • Was Kobol the original home of the Lords of Kobol, or did they originate from some other place?
  • Did the people of the colonies leave Kobol with the assistance of the gods, or under their own power?
  • What was the nature of the "galleon"? Was it a large STL colony ship? Did it have an FTL drive?
  • If Roslin is now cured of cancer and not dying, can she be the leader of the Pythia Prophecy?