Feature

Civilization V

Valhalla Rising

Drew Toal likes to play as the Vikings in Civilization V. But how does his in-game experience match up with the actual Vikings? We enlisted an expert to find out.

By Drew Toal • July 10, 2013

Throughout history, nascent civilizations have usually found themselves born directly into an existential fight for survival and dominance. Most don’t last long. Militaristic societies regularly rub against one another, often resulting in mass bloodshed. Some five decades before the birth of Christ, for instance, Consul George Washington of America took note of Viking King Harald Bluetooth Gormsson’s aggressively expansionary policies and warned him off in the strongest language. Washington eventually denouncing Viking society as a whole in A.D. 125. Gormsson was not impressed. In the world of the empire-building game Civilization V, at least, this burgeoning conflict would span millennia, and it would eventually lead to the razing of New York City by musket-toting berserkers in 1655.

Although the long-running Civilization series mines details from history, the course of a civilization’s in-game development is largely left up to the player. I often play as the Vikings, and I was curious how my empire compares with the real-life Scandinavian Viking communities, which flourished between A.D. 800 and 1000. To that end, I asked Robert Ferguson, author of a fascinating 2010 history, The Vikings, to help me make sense of the culture and why my fictional-historical civ developed as it did.

Leader
Civilization V

Harald Bluetooth Gormsson. All I’ve gleaned about him from the game is that he hates America, and is for all intents and purposes immortal. (Civilization’s leaders oversee their society’s development from start to finish. They’re more demigods than political leaders.) But Ferguson found the choice of Gormsson as a representative ruler to be a good one. “Gormsson is one of the most notable kings of the era,” Ferguson said. “He carried out the first unification of Denmark and was responsible for introducing Christianity and all that implies of cultural advances, including Latin and the art of writing on parchment. However his ‘modernity’—introducing Christianity to Denmark and Norway—upset a lot of his subjects. He was driven out of the country, and his son Sven Forkbeard took over, who by 1013 or so had established the Vikings’ North Sea Empire that included Denmark, England, Norway, and most of southern Sweden.” As a de facto deity, my Gormsson didn’t have to worry so much about being driven out of power by an ungrateful son. Further, if the citizens were upset with the real Gormsson’s embrace of “modernity,” then they were going to be really upset when I introduced nanotechnology.

Religion

In the game, civilizations aren’t required to adhere to their historical belief structures. India, under Gandhi, needn’t subscribe to Hinduism, nor is there any compelling reason for Isabella’s Spain to be Catholic. But once a civilization adopts a religion—be it Islam, Taoism, or Drewism (you can create your own)—it’s your job to spread that faith to the far corners of the world.

In my game, Bluetooth’s people founded Zoroastrianism in A.D. 840. We adopted it more or less at random, as there is no option for worshipping Odin and the rest of the Norse pantheon, and all of the major faiths were already spoken for. According to Ferguson, the Vikings engaged in no missionary activity to speak of—this was one of the major reasons they were generally so annoyed with Christianity—and I, too, took a relaxed view of converting the non-believers. “They were polytheists and believed in the Aesir, a family of mortal gods,” Ferguson explained.

“Each god to whom they prayed had one specialist field, and they would pray to whatever god knew most about the challenge facing them. Some, like the Icelander Helgi The Lean, had a nice relaxed attitude to the whole idea of Christ, and just added him to their pantheon and prayed to him along with the others. Helgi was baptized, but when he wanted to ensure good weather for a sea-trip, he prayed to Thor on the grounds that Christ was a foreign god who wouldn’t know anything about the weather around the coast of Iceland. In this sense, they seemed to have a geographical sense of where a god’s power operated.” Now there’s an admirable pragmatism noticeably absent from most belief systems today.

Interestingly, there actually was a historical connection between the Vikings and Zoroastrianism, if only due to a misunderstanding: “Some of the Arab chroniclers, on seeing the Vikings cremating their dead, thought they were fire worshippers like the Zoroastrians,” Ferguson said. He hastened to note: “They [the Vikings] were not fire worshippers.”

System Of Government
Civilization V

By 1240 B.C., my small but hardy country included the cities of Copenhagen, Kaupang, and Aarhus. We had adopted “Liberty” as a defining social principle, as opposed to “Tradition” or “Honor.” I defined “liberty” as the liberty to plunder our neighbors, Pacal of the Maya, and Kamehameha of Polynesia; liberty to trade goods with the mercantile-minded son of the Sun God, Ramesses of Egypt; and liberty to smash barbarian hordes pouring over our borders. We were the horned sons of John Stuart Mill, perfectly willing to pillage the homes of any country that would threaten our freedom. As champions of liberty, our society began as a Republic (one completely dominated by me), grew into a Meritocracy, and later blossomed into full Representation. Everyone has a vote, even if I have supreme veto power.

The real Vikings were not so different, if not quite as tyrannically progressive. “In the early years of the Viking Age—let’s say to the conquest of the east coast of England by the Great Heathen Army in the 860s—they were militarized tribal societies,” Ferguson said when I asked about Viking political structures. “There was no hereditary kingship, and the leaders of the great bands were simply those generally acclaimed as such by the rest of the group—not necessarily the best and most brutal fighter, but the best leader. This kingship was probably sacral, meaning that the chosen leader was ultimately responsible for the good or ill fortune of the people he led, and if things were going very badly indeed, he could be sacrificed in a last desperate gesture to the gods.” Unlucky leader sacrifice is not something, on the other hand, that my Vikings practiced. If my foray into Theordora’s Byzantine empire was bloodily repulsed by thick artillery fire, or Bergen was starving because of my neglect, my people have no recourse but to suffer silently under my gross misrule. Hooray for in-name-only democracy!

Military
Civilization V

I never go out of my way to rattle my battle ax at my neighbors, but more often than not in my Civilization playthroughs, diplomacy gives way to cannon fire. (Nobunaga and the Japanese are just so impossibly arrogant, with their samurai swords and advanced mathematics.) As Vikings, it seemed best to develop a strong navy, taking advantage of their innate bond with the sea. This jibed with Ferguson’s assessment of the Vikings’ greatest technological achievement. “Their best tactic was the shallow-drafted and very fast longship,” he said. “It meant they could land almost anywhere, even on shores people had thought it was impossible to land on. The side-mounted rudder also meant they could reverse down narrow rivers just by hoisting the rudder up out of the water—again, a very unexpected talent for the ship to have. The longship was their stealth bomber.”

Although the actual stealth bomber would eventually became my stealth bomber as my Viking empire entered the modern age, in the early 18th century I both honored and diverged from the Viking naval tradition by sailing an extremely unstealthy armada to the outskirts of Osaka, led by an adopted Viking, Great Admiral Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. “Let’s see your advanced math save you now,” Agrippa probably uttered before unleashing hell.

Vassals/City-States

Among the various empires vying for supremacy in Civilization V, there are also dozens of unaffiliated “city-states”—Kuala Lumpur, Stockholm, Zanzibar, and Dublin, to name a few. World leaders can court these city-states for an alliance (or destroy them, or shake them down for tribute). As borders expand, their aid can be invaluable. Around A.D. 300, I rescued some refugee workers from Hanoi, which signaled the start of a strong bond between our peoples.

Venice also occupied a particularly contentious spot on the globe. My Vikings enjoyed a long and fruitful trade relationship with the merchants of Venice, until Dido of Carthage invaded. Our forces moved quickly to liberate our allies, in an initiative I deemed Operation Hairy Breeches. We were greeted as liberators, and later, after expelling the invaders, I moved several cruise missiles near the border so Dido would trouble them no more. If Venice thereafter made regular gifts to us in thanks, we weren’t going to say no.

The actual Vikings took a different tack when it came to vassals. “Swedish Vikings ruled as an aristocratic military elite in Kiev—the old Russian state—and took tribute from the tribes around them,” Ferguson said. After particularly lengthy conflicts, one side or another might sue for peace, and offer goods such as salt, iron, or horses in return for a cessation of hostilities. Likewise, in the early going of the game, my empire often engaged in low-level skirmishes with Elizabeth of England. These always ended with one of us growing weary of the fight and paying the other off for a temporary armistice. For the real Vikings and England, though, it was a more one-sided affair. “At the close of the 10th century, kings of a now-united England paid huge sums of money to Viking armies to go away and leave them alone. Of course, it didn’t work. They took the money, went away, and came back again when they needed more. Ethelred The Unready was king of the English at the time [of heavy Viking raids],” explained Ferguson. “People think ‘Unready’ because he was never prepared for this, but in fact the Old English word actually means ‘the Poorly Advised’.”

Clash Of Civilizations (Or: Everybody Hates America)
Civilization V

Although a normal game of Civilization is peppered with random countries, one primary, particularly antagonistic rival usually emerges early on. For my Vikings, that nemesis was America, led by the warmonger George Washington. In A.D. 150, Washington joined with Ramesses of Egypt to declare war on my peace-loving country. This feud would put the 100 Years War to shame. It would only end some 1,500 years later when I circumvented the Great Wall Of Washington D.C. and ended the American experiment once and for all.

It’s well known that the real Vikings long terrorized nearby Great Britain, but they also had their share of spats with troublemakers in North America. “Vikings from Greenland tried to establish an outpost in Newfoundland,” Ferguson said. “Since they were short of timber for boats and houses on Greenland, they probably wanted to have a sort of timber depot. They came in contact with North American Indians. At first there was curiosity on both sides and some trading, but things turned violent, and lives were lost. The would-be colonists pulled back home. There were so few of them, so their real resource was human life and they could not afford to lose any.”

So my strategy of throwing bodies at the America problem was probably my biggest break with the Viking problem. But perhaps the Vikings ended up with a foothold in America after all, with assimilation rather than invasion. “The final disappearance of the Greenland colony in the late 1400s has given rise to many possible explanations,” Ferguson told me. “It was a sort of Mary Celeste experience, almost a ‘dinner plates on the table but no people around’ type of thing. An interesting idea is that the starving remnants of the settlements crossed the Davis Straits to try their luck in North America, and that they were taken captive by the Mandans, a tribe of Native Americans, with the men being killed and the women kept as concubines. There was a popular theory that this accounted for the fact that the Mandan tribe were unusually tall, and many had fairish hair and blue eyes.”

The End Of The Vikings?

With America defeated, it was only a matter of time before its erstwhile allies capitulated. The strongest of these, Egypt, made a concerted effort to develop nuclear weapons, presumably to survive via a policy of mutually assured destruction. They were too late. But rather than destroy and enslave the Egyptians, as I had done the Americans, I was content to strip them of strategic resources, in exchange for peace, in the year 2020. I quickly used the extracted uranium to build a number of Giant Death Robots (their actual name) and lay the groundwork for a thousand years of mechanized Zoroastrian Viking empire.

The real Vikings were not so lucky. When asked about the eventual end of Gormsson’s people, Ferguson said that scholars differ on when the final chapter was written. “Some say 1066. Some push it on to the end of the Greenland colony. Some even as far as the disappearance of [the Norse language] Norn. Some end the Viking adventure when the Danes returned these islands to the crown of Scotland in 1469.” Ferguson draws his own line in the Viking sand at the year 1104, “when the archbishopric at Lund in southern Sweden was established. The Viking countries were all Christian by that time, and Christian culture was on its way into Scandinavia. The reason this matters is that up until then, the popes had always feared the Scands might relapse into heathendom—the Swedes in particular—and so had run church affairs through the archbishopric of Hamburg-Bremen in Germany. By allowing Scandinavian Christians to take charge of their own institutional church, Rome was signifying its belief that Christianity had come to stay in the north.”

My own empire had no such twilight. When my playthrough ended, my Vikings arrived at a point of complete global hegemony, and we were on the cusp of revolutionary new Future Tech that would likely allow Gormsson and his bearded ilk to turn into ageless Viking cyborgs. They could raid and pillage and write epic poetry forevermore.

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  • Effigy_Power

    Drew, as a history-buff this article appeals to me greatly. You may from now on make your own mustache decisions and you shan’t hear another word from me.

    That said, I would have preferred Harald Hardrada as the leader of the “Viking” society. His achievements aren’t really as interesting, but he represents the archetypical Viking raider to a great degree, in that his influence was more disruptive than anything else. After all, his raids into England didn’t earn him any lands, on the contrary. He died a Stamford Bridge, which was close to many lands the Vikings had held before. Yorkshire was once Jorvik, a Viking outpost.
    Instead Hardrada’s raids into England allowed it to be conquered by the Normans, who had a much easier time fighting Anglo-Saxon troops who were tired from fighting off raiders to the North. His death signaled the downfall of the Vikings…
    On further thought, he would have been a terrible leader example. What am I thinking?

    • HobbesMkii

       Harald also claimed his kingdom (that had been lost by his half-brother, St. Olaf) after spending years in exile working for the Rurikids and the Byzantines. So there was that.

    • Melancholic_Rodeo_Clown

      I’m pretty sure Hardrada was the leader of the Vikings in 2, 3 or 4? I struggle to remember these things…

      • The Guilty Party

        I was going to say that that you gotta save something for the sequel, but yeah, maybe it was already used too. History is a finite resource!

      • HobbesMkii

         He’s in 4.

        • CrabNaga

          Yeah, it’s a little bit disappointing that Civ V implemented a one-civ-per-civilization rule. Although, it also completely changed civ traits into having unique bonuses, rather than having a mix of pre-determined bonuses like it was in IV (i.e. Expansive, Aggressive, etc.). I guess on one hand it’s a little bit better to have more individual civilizations, so you see the same empires less and less, leading to some more variety, but on the other hand it sort of neuters your ability to customize your civ.

        • Effigy_Power

          I wonder if some sort of legacy dynamic wouldn’t work really well for Civ5.
          One could use the change of Epoch to advance the current leader to a more modern version, the way prior Civs did it, or just replace the current leader with a new one, maybe a new one with a boon/flaw system based on how the last epoch was played or something.
          Yay more DLC.

    • Drew Toal

      I’m not qualified to make my own mustache decisions.

      • Effigy_Power

        I wasn’t really going to stop anyways. We all know this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/deejaytaufiq Mohamad Taufiq Morshidi

    I recently bought Civ 5 for the Mac and i’ve never played any of the Civilization games.

    Is there anything i should do so that Gandhi doesn’t nuke the shit out of me?

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      Play Ghandi; Nuke Whales.

    • harry_horse

      Ghandi is an unmitigated a-hole every time.

      • swimfanfan

        Haha, that’s funny. In IV he’s the only one who doesn’t get mad at you for demanding tribute, unless you do it like 4 times.

    • Copywight

      Resist nonviolently.

    • Mistah Chrysoprase

       Kill Ghandi. Fast. Same goes for the Aztecs, Zulus, Mongolians, Vikings, and especially the Americans. Anytime things go just a little bit wrong you can rely on that prick Washington to try and take advantage.

  • NakedSnake

    Awesome. A couple of observations:

    (1) I have never heard of the Sacral leadership style before. That’s pretty amazing that the leader can get sacrificed as a last resort. That’s accountability.

    (2) Nothing against the Danes, but I always find it somewhat disappointing that they were at the forefront of the viking thing. They just seem so much more civilized that their wooly northern kindred.

    (3) That’s pretty weird and cool that Dido is the ruler of the Carthaginians. Don’t get me wrong, she kicked ass in the Aeneid. But Hannibal, badly outnumbered, destroyed the entire roman army in one day. But I guess he wasn’t very politically savvy. Dido was, I guess, the whole package.

    (4) Have you all heard of the Blood Eagle? It was a form of viking sacrifice greatly feared by middle ages priest (unclear whether it really existed or whether it was just their lurid imaginations). Anyway, the victim would be splayed out and then a viking with an ax would cut away at both sides of the ribcage until the whole ribcage could be extracted, forming a wing-like mess (a “blood eagle”).

    Damn the new Civilization sounds awesome. Need to check it out.

    • Melancholic_Rodeo_Clown

      It’s amazing. Each Civ game has addicted me in its own way and I must say the removal of the ability to ‘stack’ units in V is fantastic, it makes war much more challenging and tactical.

      • NakedSnake

        Turning the clock back to Civ2!

    • Travis Stewart

      Hannibal was, in fact, the leader of the Carthaginians in Civ 4. Civ 5 kind of shook up a lot of the civ and leader traditions.

    • http://twitter.com/Bolongo3 Bolongo

      Danes civilized?

      You seem unaware that these days they’re the alcoholic, xenophobic, red-headed step-siblings of Scandinavia…

      I guess they’re mostly bitter about their lost hegemony. :P

      • http://www.twitter.com/comedysavage Evel Kareebel

         I’ve been to copenhagen. Everyone there was thin, gorgeous, and riding a bike with the kind of healthy glow you get from a lot of fresh air and right living.

        Nothing on Oslo, though, whose women made me stop with my jaw dropped every 5 minutes.

        • Jackbert

          “I’ve been to copenhagen. Everyone there was thin, gorgeous, and riding a bike with the kind of healthy glow you get from a lot of fresh air and right living.”

          They were all white too, so there is a trade-off.

      • NakedSnake

        Maybe I just consider them “continental” based on their geography. They’re not even on the Skandinvian Peninsula! Buncha farmers.

      • Sa3ad

        I’m so tolerant I make broad sweeping generalisations about an entire nation of people.

    • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

      Sacral leadership doesn’t mean the leader can be sacrificed, it means the leader is considered sacred, like the pharaohs. Which doesn’t stop people from assassinating the shit out of them but in theory doing so is some kind of religious no-no, like eating meat on Fridays for Catholics.

  • Gryffle

    I’ve not played Civ 5 but in 4 there were always some leaders who you’d come across and think “whelp, they’ll be invading me within 500 years”, and without fail they would: Montezuma, Isabella, Shaka Zulu. It was actually pretty cool how, through their AI settings and just a handful of phrases, all the leaders in that game seemed to have strong personalities that carried over between games.

    • The Guilty Party

      If only that personality wasn’t always ‘Total Dickhead’. Especially Isabella.

      • DrFlimFlam

        Yes, by all means, deign to offer your hand. Nobunaga will gladly remove it from your arm.

    • Melancholic_Rodeo_Clown

      Ah yes, good old mental Monty…

  • Melancholic_Rodeo_Clown

    Washington is awalys, ALWAYS a fuckwit in the Civilization series… I’ve been warring with him on and off since I first played Civilization I back in 1995 or so.

    I am so jealous of you North Americans having the Brave New World expansion already… it gets released here at midnight on Friday night so I have already booked a taxi home from my friend’s gig so I can start playing it more-or-less immediately.

    • Mistah Chrysoprase

      “Please let me kill you, George Washington”? Man, even your dreams are square.

  • The Guilty Party

    I have nothing substantive to say, just would like to comment that this article was totally awesome. 

    • Drew Toal

      I’ll take it!

  • CNightwing

    Now if you want to play historical Vikings, the Old Gods expansion for Crusader Kings II is out I believe. Lund or no, you can revert to your pagan ways and pillage the coasts of northern Europe to your heart’s content.

    • Effigy_Power

      You can ever conquer the known world, put your longhouse up in Byzantium and sacrifice the Pope to Odin.

  • Blatherly

    Awesome article. As a History fan (only ever did it at A-level, but recently took a year to do a history of medicine course) I think we see too many generic worlds in games, but not enough genuinely interesting historical settings.

    I’d like to see something similar with Crusader Kings or Total War. A more focused historical setting, less freedom and (unfortunately) a lack of cyborgs. Then you can play the game of the “what if’s of history”. A historian can go over the implications of your actions- what if the Roman empire hangs on for another 50 years? etc.

    • CrabNaga

      I know there’s other games spanning other time periods, but I would love to see a Crusader Kings-style game that takes place in the modern world that focuses on election intrigue, opportunistic wars, social reform, political dynamics, and controlling the people.

      • Effigy_Power

        Those do exist, to a degree. CK2 makers Paradox have games covering those dynamics well into the Industrial Revolution and who knows how much further. Europa Universalis, Hearts of Iron and so on… plenty of material there.

        • CrabNaga

          What I’m thinking of is something in like present-day-to-near-future Earth. Like you’d start in the mid-nineties or something and it would go until 2050 or so. It could also incorporate conspiracy theory elements (like shadow governments, corporate control, brainwashing, etc.). 

          On an unrelated note, I know that you can play EU with a CK2 save file, but is there anything like that with HoI3?

    • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

      Great ideas, definitely food for thought.

    • Citric

      This is total tangent, but I wonder if there’s a way to make a game of MacKenzie King talking to his ghost dogs and Leonardo da Vinci. Like it could be a dream puzzle like Catherine or some kind of episodic RPG, and he would learn lessons from each sequence that guide Canadian policies. Then the scary climax involves some corrupting influence that makes him think Hitler’s a wonderful person, and you have to overcome that to beat the game and secure your legacy as a respected but really weird Prime Minister.

      Canadian history, baby!

  • Max Power

    As a Dane I want to point out, that the voice actor chosen to voice Harald  is doing a horribly job. It’s like picking a random NY taxi driver to do the voice of Washington. He has a thick accent, and sounds incredibly modern. 

    Not something people a going to notice, but whatever. 

    • Effigy_Power

      I think he may fall under the Skyrim-sort of Scandinaviosity.

    • Sa3ad

      Shouldn’t he in actuality be speaking Old Norse rather than Danish (were it accurate)? It’s so odd how much the historical accuracy varies with these languages. Some are just amazingly well thought out, while others are just lazily thrown together with little regards to historicity.

      • Max Power

        Yeah exactly. Getting some one from Island to do the part would probably have been a lot more accurate. 

  • DrFlimFlam

    Funny – he doesn’t LOOK Drewish.

  • Ixbalum

    Question: I haven’t played a Civ game since the first iteration and a bit of the second. Back in the day the game had the option to play on Earth. Is that still there? Civ II didn’t seem to have it. I always found it more fun to see what “our” world looked like with the Zulu Empire spreading out from Africa, sending ships to Australia and blocking enemies by controlling the stretch near the Sinai…

    • CNightwing

      There is always the option to play on earth! In the latest iteration of the series, you can choose various sizes of earth, various projections designed to make Europe larger and you can start with or without realistic starting locations (mostly due to community modding I note).

      • Ixbalum

         Good to know. It’s hard to believe that I first got hooked on this thing almost 20 years ago. I never upgraded because I had other stuff to do…. but i have wanted to get back into it if i could find the time…

        • CNightwing

          Civ V is pretty good now, with expansions, but if you want that addictive experience then you can get Civ IV super-cheap, and it’s just *so* good straight off the bat.

    • NakedSnake

      I know that earth is lame, but I love the “play on earth” option too. It makes the alternate history aspect that much more fun. I should also mention that it’s nice have a mental map to work off of while the other civilizations are blindly exploring. The only downside is that by the time you make it to America you’ll always find a thriving civilization of Americans or Azteks who have prospered and thrived without any significant rivals.

      • DrFlimFlam

        It’s so weird showing up and finding they’re doing all right on their own. Manifest Destiny gets so BLOODY.

    • Melancholic_Rodeo_Clown

      As well as the ‘Earth’ option, IV and V have both had a ‘Terra’ option wherein the map is randomly generated with all Civs starting on the ‘Old World’ equivalent, with the ‘New World’ out there resource rich but with insane amounts of barbarians. It’s really good fun.

  • Indoorsman

    Sven Forkbeard. I’ve never seen a picture, but I can imagine what he looked like…

  • ChicaneryTheYounger

    No one finds Christianity being considered more “modern” and “culturally advanced” than Polytheistic religions incredibly problematic? No? Just me?

    • Effigy_Power

      Well, IN CIV monotheism as a cultural invention is both selectable later in the game as well as a greater boon to you civ… I sort of thought he meant that?
      As a real-life blanket statement it certainly can’t just stand there. Hinduism alone is a pretty clear indicator for that.

    • Ixbalum

       I think he was referring more to stuff like art and cathedral building, as well as organization. One of the things that made Catholic bureaucracy so effective was organization: being a son or daughter of someone didn’t matter, and for all the cronyism it was close to a modern corporation in that sense. It’s also why their records are so good. As to writing, the Vikings certainly had that, as runic alphabets — ironically adopted from the old Italic ones — were already in use, but they weren’t much use for writing Latin. And Latin was one of the lingua franca back then if you were trading.

      Also, if you are a religious philosopher I suppose, one could argue that modernity takes many of its cues from the philosophy that was transmitted from the Greeks via Christianity and Islam; the whole mind-body-spirit separation that we take for granted comes from that in many ways. An animist would simply not look at the world like that (and they don’t). There’s a load of irony in the idea that secularism is made possible by the existence of the Church.

      The word choice wasn’t as good as it might have been, tho.

    • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

      That is a real stretch. The meaning of the “cultural advances” remark is right there in the same sentence—it refers to language and technology that accompanied the spread of Christianity. And when he says “modernity,” Ferguson is clearly referring to Gormsson’s perception of modernity—that’s why it is enclosed in quotes.

      • ChicaneryTheYounger

        I should really stop posting here, because everytime I’m proved too ignorant to comment here. Sorry for wasting everyone’s time.
        Y’all are right, I’m just a dumb reactionary.

        • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

          But if you hadn’t posted your comment, we wouldn’t have had this conversation! Nobody’s judging you, we’re just talking it out. A person who thinks about the issues you raised is exactly the type of person who we love to have around here. Even though I disagreed with you, I respect you a lot more for saying how you feel than if you hadn’t. I’m pretty sure that all the other Gameological regulars feel the same.

          I also sometimes (usually) forget that my comments may seem like they carry more weight because I’m the editor of the site. But I’m no authority. There’s a reason I don’t have any special badges or whatnot on staff comments here. We’re all participants in a conversation.

  • haikucaracha

    can’t help but wonder / if drew’s giant death robots / were bluetooth ready

  • Sa3ad

    A bit of a tangent, but I felt compelled to point out that Zoroastrians aren’t fire worshippers either, and they didn’t and still don’t cremate their dead (unless they have to, see below), making that misunderstanding even sillier. Traditionally Zoroastrians dispose of their dead in something we in English refer to as a ‘Tower of Silence’, a place where vultures are allowed to pick the corpses clean of flesh. Why? Well, because they believe corpses are impure while fire and earth are holy and must not be defiled. You can’t bury someone in the ground, and you certainly can’t taint a fire with their corpse. The Parsi community of India (the only contemporary Zoroastrians I can name at the top of my head) have run into a problem where most of the country’s vultures have died off making this previously quick and clean process far messier and smellier, and nowadays these towers are being surrounded by residential buildings (the daily smell and sight of rotting corpses might lead to a few complaints by the neighbours), and therefore some Parsis have turned to cremation as an alternative. As for them worshipping fire, they actually worship a deity by the name of Ahura Mazda (apparently existing in the pantheon of the Old Iranian religion but given a new context in the teachings of Zoroaster — cf. Canaanite El and the Judeo-Christian-Islamic deity) who is destined to triumph over the evil Ahriman with the help of mankind. If I’m wrong about any of this, please excuse me — Iranian history and religion is not my field of expertise.
    P.S: Fun fact, Freddie Mercury of Queen fame was from a Parsi family.

  • Sa3ad

    Speaking of Iranians: It’s really cool how Darius speaks in some reconstructed form of Imperial Aramaic, the lingua franca of the Achaemenid Empire. And (speaking of non-Iranians I guess) rather funny how Ramesses II speaks Arabic. Dido, while of dubious historicity herself, gets to speak reconstructed Phoenician (even if the pronunciation is a bit iffy), which is interesting to listen to if one knows a bit of Hebrew.