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Cythera -- Pronunciations and Inspirations

A reader asks, "I read the first chapter tonight. Fascinating world. Climate reminded me of the Nile river basin on a planet level? And so I don't screw it up further -- how do you pronounce Menaechmi?"

I'm so glad you found it fascinating! Here's a link to the pronunciation of Menaechmi. As it says, Menaechmi is a play by the Roman playwright Plautus set in the Hellenistic world and involving mistaken identity and twin brothers who are the Menaechmi of the title -- the brothers Menaechmus.

In Cythera, Menaechmi is a world in a binary solar system whose suns are known as the Greater and Lesser Twin. The twin sons of the play have become twin suns, a pun that certainly doesn't work in the language Cythera speaks, but actually a key to the origins of this world and this people. This is not long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away. This is instead our distant future, and the people of the Nine Worlds are our distant descendants. The people who named this solar system in Cythera's ancient history used a naming system like ours. This is also true of Agni, another world that appears in the book. The original Agni is an Indian god, the god of fire, a singularly appropriate name for a world whose most prominent feature from space is its volcanism. The original surveyors of the Nine Worlds knew Agni and gave his name to a world where fire is life. Which tells us something else about them, doesn't it?

The climate and culture of Menaechmi were actually inspired by the real cities of the coast Tiberias, Caesarea, and Antiochia Ptolemais. So you're definitely barking up the right tree with the Hellenistic thing! :D The Guardian, the ruler of Menaechmi's Cities of the Coast, isn't seen in this book and in fact we never know if the Guardian is male or female. In my head the Guardian is very like Julia Berenice. We may see her in a later book. (In Cythera we see the Guardian only through her representative Orlion, who is a major character.) When I was about thirteen I read a very bad historical romance about Julia Berenice. It was absolutely terrible, but I fell in love with the world and I've kept one foot there ever since. I've floated the idea of a Numinous World book involving Agrippina, Germanicus, and Julia Berenice in the real cities of the coast but it's been fairly roundly shot down on the grounds that I would manage to offend nearly everyone! So I think that some of the content of that is what I'm playing with in Cythera.

I hope you enjoy it!



( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 15th, 2013 02:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the explanations/pronunciation help. At least I had it in the right part of the world? I'm amused at discovering yet another historical figure with my given name Julia -- I'm so used to the recent usage, it's nice to encounter others.

Edited at 2013-10-15 03:02 pm (UTC)
Oct. 18th, 2013 09:23 pm (UTC)
You are very welcome! I hope it was interesting. I love Julia Berenice. (As distinct from just plain Berenice, who I also am thinking about writing!)
Oct. 16th, 2013 02:16 am (UTC)
I am now wondering about the settlers/surveyors. They made very interesting naming choices!
Oct. 18th, 2013 09:23 pm (UTC)
They did indeed! :D More on that to come!
(Deleted comment)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )