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Is it sufficient to read the entire Gorean series to fully comprehend the complex world of Gor? Take a few minutes to carefully ponder your answer.
Are you unsure of the definitions of certain terms used in the books? For example, do you know the definitions of "aedile" or "himation?" Do you understand the basic definition of some terms but desire a more detailed explanation? For example, you may know that a "kantharos" is a type of cup but do you know what it looks like? Are there areas where you desire greater comprehension on such matters as warfare, ship building or Caste Codes?
Some people may even have more complex inquiries concerning Gor. How does Aristotle's theory of natural slavery relate to Gor? What was the inspiration for the Warrior Caste? What did Pythagoras have to say about a Counterearth?
For answers to the above questions and for a deeper understanding of Gor, you must delve into its origins and source material. You must examine Earth's history to see how it inspired the Gor novels. You must delve into the history and culture of ancient Greece and Rome. You must delve into the history and culture of the Alans, Huns, Mongols, Vikings, Inuit, Native Americans and more. Besides your historical forays, you must also delve into a science fiction series from early in the twentieth century. Norman borrowed from many places for his world of Gor.
It is clear in many instances where Norman got many of his ideas for Gor. Many were taken directly from different eras of Earth's history. In other instances, we can only conjecture that Norman received inspiration from certain sources based on a series of similarities. Norman's historical research was very accurate though at times he changed certain items to conform to his vision of Gor. The societies in the cities of Gor derive primarily from ancient Greece and Rome.
Each of the barbarian cultures of Gor conforms to a specific Earth culture. The Red Hunters of the northern polar ice cap are based on the Inuit. The lands of Torvaldsland are based on the Vikings of 800-1000 A.D. The Red Savages are based on the Native Americans of North America, primarily the Sioux. The Wagon Peoples of the Plains of Turia are based on the Mongols. The tribesmen of the Tahari are based on the Bedouins of the Middle East region. The tribes within the jungles near Schendi are based on African tribes. The nomadic Alars are based on the barbarian tribe of the Alans, who were conquered by the Huns. The rence plant, the staple of the Caste of Rencers, is based on the Egyptian papyrus plant.
In addition, the overall concept, plots, style and language appear to derive in part from a science fiction series written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, who also authored the Tarzan series. This series was the John Carter of Mars books, a collection of eleven novels.
In large part, Gor is our past. It is much of who we once were. The primary difference between the two worlds revolves around technology. Earth had no limitations on its technological growth and development. It has become a very mechanistic and industrial society. Gor had limits in many technological areas, strictly enforced by the Priest-Kings through the Flame Death. Thus, their society is much closer to nature. The last two thousand years have seen very divergent growths between the two worlds. The path of Gor though has not traveled too far from its origins. It is still very reminiscent of the ancient societies that inspired it. On the other hand, Earth society has vastly changed from those days.
I am writing a series of scrolls for this website that will explore the origins and sources of Gor. I have personally researched these matters so any mistakes are solely my own. Many of the ideas I present will be clearly inspirations for the books. Some of the other ideas I present will be purely conjecture based on various similarities found during my researches. These scrolls will not contain every source or correlation that exists but they will likely expand over time as my researches widen. These scrolls will venture into areas that few before have explored or discussed. Hopefully, these scrolls will prove of benefit to many of their readers.
The inspirations for the barbarian cultures of Gor have been mentioned in their individual scrolls. The "Origins" series of scrolls will emphasize the inspiration for the societies of the cities of Gor as well as the fundamentals of Gor. There will be five primary "Origins" scrolls though more may get added at a future time.
Exactly how will these scrolls benefit someone? First, they will explain certain terminology used in the books that was never clearly defined in the books. A number of Greek and Roman terms were used in the Gor series but were often not explained. Norman seemed to assume that his readers would be familiar with the terms. This could show that Norman was aiming for a more literate market, one familiar with ancient history. Second, you may be able to better understand certain ideas if you have more source material to consider. Though you might understand the basic definition of a term, you may desire more details on the matter. These scrolls will provide some of the missing details. Third, you may be better able to fill in certain gaps in societal matters depicted in the novels. Norman could not include every detail of Gorean society in his books thus the original source material might be used to deduce the missing details. Fourth, it may point you toward areas where you would like to do additional reading. There are both fiction and nonfiction books that would appeal to fans of the Gorean novels, dependent upon your interests.
Thus, if you truly wish to better understand Gor, you may wish to examine its origins. This would apply if you are a Role-Player, Real-Timer or just a fan. Understanding Gor is always a worthy goal. In your quest for information on Gor, you never know where your road may lead.