Saturday, 14 December 2013
In Anderson's "Ivory and Apes and Peacocks", Manse Everard of the Time Patrol, gathering intelligence in King Hiram's Tyre, gains the gratitude of Sarai, a well-connected member of the palace staff, by freeing her in the temple.
In Gaiman's The Sandman: Brief Lives (New York, 1994), an exotic dancer called Nancy, with a Masters in Women's Studies, explains to fellow dancers, Tiffany and Ishtar:
"The Near East, right? Two, three thousand years ago, one of the love goddesses...Astarte, maybe [Everard's is Asherat]. Every woman in that country had to go to the temple, once in her life. All the women waited in the temple courtyard. Each one had to wait there until a stranger offered her a coin. Whoever he was, she had to go with him, and they'd make out. I think there were rooms in the temple to do it in [Everard and Sarai had to go elsewhere]...The historian made some sexist crack about the women. Because they couldn't leave until someone made love to them. He said the good-looking ones got off early, but the rougher-looking ones sometimes waited in the temple courtyard for months. But that's history for you, all written by men [and that had been Sarai's fate]." (Chapter 5, pp. 11-12)
Nancy and the others then wonder what happens to goddesses Who are no longer worshiped. Do some become exotic dancers? Because The Sandman is a fantasy, we soon learn that the dancer Ishtar is indeed the goddess, a revelation that could very readily have fitted into one of Poul Anderson's fantasies.