The following is by Miamoses Belasius, Department of Inter-Planetary Affairs, Pakesh University, 23-SEP-2478, updated 22-SEP-2485.
The activities of the gods are centered on Olympia, but all dates in this essay are Claran dates (before the founding of Endromis, and after the founding of Endromis). We present the dates we think the most accurate, but there has always been disagreement about the exact dates of Olympian events, exacerbated by the slight, often-ignored difference between the length of the Olympian Year.
We begin with a short history of the gods in the Celesti Sector. We divide the history into intervals of several centuries. For the origin of the gods, see works such as A Brief History of the Galaxy.
500 BE to 400 BE: The first hundred gods arrive on Olympia in about 500 BE. With them come several hundred demons. Gods and demons continue to arrive by the hundreds and thousands respectively, for the next few centuries. Some gods are Old Gods, with no ability to tune bridges or perform any other advanced magical functions beyond those of protecting their skulls with conjured matter. Others are Young Gods, who served the Illuminati in other ways before purchasing their own freedom and choosing to emmigrate to the Celesti Sector. Most of the Old Gods spent time on Terra. Most of the Young Gods never visited Terra and have little interest in anthrapology. Of the one thousand gods who came to the Celesti Sector, nine hundred are Old Gods and one hundred are Young Gods.
The problem faced by those that arrived first is to establish farms to provide food for the biological bodies of the gods. The demons need no such nourishment, being made entirely of magical matter and inorganic chemical matter. Olympia is covered by inedible, alien flora, but no fauna at all. The soil, however, proves to be fertile, and with the help of the demons, they clear trees and plant crops. Soon after they are raising livestock, and they are able to welcome those who follow them to Olympia with food grown on the planet. The gods efforts to spread Terran flora and fauna beyond the extent of their farms, however, are failing.
400 BE to 300 BE: Two thousand elves join the gods on Olympia. They start by extending the Olympian farms, and introducing a wider variety of crops and livestock. Then they begin to replace Olympian forests with Terran trees, fungi, insects, and animals. Once the natural Terran equilibrium is established, it spreads rapidly. Elves move through conjunctions to other planets and begin the same work there. The gods begin to establish the laboratories necessary to manufacture their mortal bodies.
300 BE to 200 BE: Two thousand dwarves join the gods and elves on Olympia, and move out to other worlds as well, to begin mining and making metal tools. They trade tools for food produced by the elves, and the gods who oversee the trade profit from it. The Olympian forests are extensive enough now to allow the gods to hunt for wild game.
200 BE to 0 BE: The cities of the dwarves grow, and Terran life spreads rapidly. The gods, their demons, demigods, and allied daemons join the elves in the search for new conjunctions, and therefore new planets. By the end of this period, they have found dozens.
0 AE to 500 BE: Over a period of fifty years, several hundred thousand sapiens arrive from Terra, and live separately, according to their origins, upon various planets. The gods work among them, and demons clear forests alongside sapien farmers. For centuries afterwards, sapiens will regard this time as a Golden Age, exaggerating its length and comfort in their collective memory, and revering the proximity of the gods. Elves continue cultivating Terran life at the frontiers on new planets. Dwarves begin to trade with sapiens. The sapien population swells to over ten million. The gods begin to live well.
500 AE to 1000 AE: The gods establish the Free Worlds and the Open Worlds. The first conflict between the growing sapien nations begin. Conflicts between the gods allied with warring sapien nations follow soon after. The gods refine the rules of planetary management, and build up an administration staffed almost entirely by elves.
1000 AE to 1500 AE: The gods are forced to confront the advancing senility of many of their number, although still a minority. Senility appears to be brought on by a combination of their great age and the effects of the strong maeon wind of Olympia and other planets in the Celesti Sector where the gods reside. The maeon wind natural to the gods is that of Terra, which is so weak as to be barely measurable. The senile gods spend most of their time in some kind of trance, in a chamber with a weak maeon wind, which alleviates their complaint. They appoint elf advisors as managers of their estates, and at least half of the Open Worlds are managed in this way, by elves. The active gods attempt to usurp the Olympian Council, leading to turmoil and war. The elves and the senile gods prevail. No changes to the Olympian voting laws are passed through the Olympian council, but the gods responsible for initiating the conflict are fined heavily.
1500 AE to 2000 AE: Elves, acting as proxies for senile gods, dominate Olympian politics. The active gods rebuild their fortunes. They attempt again, by democratic means, to change the Olympian voting laws, and in 1767 AE, they succeed. No god may vote in an Olympian election unless he or she has been out of trance for at least ten years. As a result, most of the gods can no longer vote. But the near-senile gods still outnumber the active ones, and they cooperate to retain their power in the council.
2000 AE to Present: The active gods grow wealthy. They govern their Open Worlds with more daring and at a greater profit than the elves acting for the senile gods. There are two major political camps among the gods. One is that of Peace and Prosperity, which is favored by the gods whose affairs are handled for the most part by elves. The members of this camp try to keep their sapien populations stable, healthy, and productive. They claim that sapiens are better off managed this way than if left to their own devices. A corollary of this claim is that advances in sapien science will undermin sapien happiness. Such advances might undermine the supremacy of Olympian control of the Open Worlds. The wizards of Clarus are seen as a threat to humanity by the Peace and Prosperity camp, because wizards might discover the secret of the molecular bridge. At present, Olympia has a monopoly on the ability to gate troops into battle, which makes it easy for them to suppress occasional sapien rebellions. As an example of how dangerous molecular bridges can be, the Peace and Prosperity camp point to the black-orc called Gelden who learned to make molecular bridges, escaped from Hell with tens of thousands of orcs, and plagued Clarus for centuries.
In opposition to Peace and Prosperity are the gods of Cultural Dynamism. These gods, who include most of the active gods, believe that gods will always have a role to play in sapien affairs, regardless of advances in sapien technology. Indeed: such advances strengthen sapiens and therefore give the gods insurance against invasion by the Illuminati, assault by the dragons, or attack from any other galactic force that might stumble upon the Celesti Sector. As to sapien happiness, Cultural Dynamists claim that sapiens are happier fending for themselves, and that the tranquil societies of Peace and Prosperity planets are perverse and disturbing suppressions of sapien free will.
As things stand now, the Cultural Dynamists have the majority in the Olympian Council, but the Peace and Prosperity camp have vastly greater wealth and military might, managed mostly by elves. So for the moment, the contest between these two philosophies is in balance.
If we are to understand the gods, we must understand how they earn money, and we must know what they spend it upon.
The Olympian Council consists of ten gods elected every Olympian century. The council levies taxes and duties in Olympian Dollars. It borrows and lends in the same currency. These taxes pay for the Olympian Army, which enforces the will of the gods on the Open Worlds. Because taxes take up most of a god's revenue, they always need Olympian Dollars to pay the Council, and banks on all planets will gladly accept these dollars as currency. There have been times, however, when the Olympian Dollar has lost value with respect to gold and other currencies. A century ago, the cost of gold in Olympian Dollars doubled for fifty years when Olympia failed to stop the population of an Open World called Corfu from increasing sixteen-fold.
The council attempts to maintain the value of the Olympian Dollar so as to maintain the value of the enormous cash assets of Olympian elves and gods. When the value of the dollar remains constant, instead of decreases, the Olympian banks are more willing to lend money to the large planet-managing corporations, and this in turn stabilizes the planet-managing process, reducing the chance of a catastrophe such as the one that occurred on Corfu.
Not all gods agree that the gods should live in luxury. But all of them agree that they should live in safety and good health. For a god, good health requires replacing its mortal shell every century or so. Most gods keep a large number of divine pets, which we call demi-gods, and these also reside in mortal shells, in the shape of animals, which must be replaced every few centuries. Manufacturing all these bodies, and the transferring of a divine mind from one to another, is enormously labor-intensive, and therefore expensive. All the gods agree, therefore, that they need to obtain the use of sapien labor to live a satisfactory life.
A new divine body can cost $100 million. If we convert this sum into man-hours of labor at a rate of $100 an hour, we arrive at one million man-hours for a single body. Each body takes twenty years to grow and perfect. During that time, we can imagine twenty-five skilled men and women working upon this body full-time. The body-making industry requires a wide range of rare chemicals and magical materials. Furthermore, it cannot be disturbed without disastrous effect.
There are three body-making laboratories in the sector, the locations of which are a secret closely guarded by the gods. At least one is on Olympia. The danger to the gods of placing laboratories on planets other than Olympia is that the Council will no longer have direct control over the distribution of bodies, which is one of its main holds upon the gods it governs. The disadvantage of keeping the laboratories upon Olympia is that it makes the gods vulnerable to an invasion of that one planet.
To sustain the body-labs indefinitely, without interruption, the gods need a large income and guaranteed security. Unfortunately, these two requirements are in conflict. A large income requires a large subject population. But a large subject population is more difficult to control. Given the sapien capacity to multiply (a quadrupling of population in twenty-five years is possible) the gods cannot leave a population uncontrolled for more than a couple of centuries, or it is likely to explode. It will develop its own fiercely independent culture, and a strong army. At that point, the gods could either attempt to cut it back, or let it go. If they let it go, it will eventually spread through all the worlds of the sector until it dominates Olympia.
A few gods argue that even in an infinite population of sapiens, gods could hold their own. Most, however, are convinced that the only way to be rich enough to support the body laboratories is by domination of a large sapien population. They settled upon an Open-World population of one hundred million, or one hundred thousand sapiens per god.
When the gods first arrived in the sector, and planned how they would distribute their sapien colonists, they were almost all dynamic and adventurous personalities. Now, twenty-five hundred years later, most are senile. But back in those days, they saw both the logic of keeping tight control over their sapien providers, and the pity of depriving sapiens of cultural independence from the gods. All the gods recognize that sapiens are more inventive and more daring than they themselves.
By these financial arguments, and with our recognition that the gods need new shells every century, and that these shells are enormously expensive, we arrive at the conclusion that the gods desire for themselves a large and stable income. When we consider the conflict between a large income, and its accompanying large sapien population, and a stable income, and its vulnerability to the military power of a large sapien population, we see that the conflict among the gods over the manner in which the sapien populations of the planets should best be managed for their mutual benefit. Other scholars have concluded that the gods argue about how to manage planets because of differences in their ethical and emotional relationships with sapiens. But we do not accept these arguments. We can understand these divine conflicts merely in the light of a set of pragmatic facts about their existence, so all other efforts to explain their behavior are merely arguments after the point.
When the gods learned that they would receive sapiens from Terra, they began immediately to discuss how to establish the sapien-powered economy they so desired. It was then that they first divided over the issue of Peaceful Prosperity and Cultural Dynamism, although it was many centuries before those names would be coined. At that time, the undisputed leader of the gods on Olympia was Zeus. He came out in support of an idea proposed by an elf named Tanus. Although most elves did not agree with him, he proposed to take a world other than Olympia, find all its conjunctions, guard them closely, and let sapiens loose on the world to do as they pleased. No matter how large the population of the world might grow, it would be trapped upon the planet, and pose no threat to the gods. This world would be a cultural melting pot for the gods to enjoy, and perhaps turn to their own profit. None of the gods suspected that sapiens would ever learn to work with magical materials, or create space bridge. So far as the gods were concerned, there was no precedent for a biological creature to have such ability. The elves would keep secret their own ability for another fifteen hundred years.
Nevertheless, some gods said that sapiens would eventually find a way to escape such a planet, but these tended to be the same gods who believed that they could profit from sapiens even when living among sapiens as equals. The gods agreed upon the formation of at least one such Free World in 35 BE. They then argues over the exact rules governing the interactions between gods and this world, and in the end, they assigned four planets to be Free Worlds, all close to Olympia, all well-explored, and, incidentally, well-linked by conjunctions to Olympia itself. Each of the four worlds would operate under different restrictions, so that all parties would be satisfied by at least one of them. Vagor, for instance, they could visit at will, but while on the planet, they would be obliged to hid their divinity. On Feras, they could declare themselves as gods and do whatever they liked. For all the Free Worlds, the law stated that nothing may be gated into the world except a naked god. This law has since been modified for our own world, in the after-math of Gelden's invasion, but the spirit of the original law remains.
With the loss of Zeus in the eleventh century (see below), the cause of Cultural Dynamism weakened in the Council. Elves pushed forward their own agenda, that of Peaceful Prosperity on the Open Worlds. The council passed laws allowing elves to manage the estates of gods who would rather not trouble themselves with business. The elves, it appears, cared about humans, about gods, and indeed all life, even demons. The gods trusted them. The elves were old and wise in ways sapiens could never be. And most of the gods were tired.
The calamity on Clarus was threatening to the gods not because it threatened their security directly, which it did not, nor because it threatened their income, which it did in only a small way, but rather because it was in the conflict upon Clarus that the Claran elves revealed their ability to use magic, and because a black-orc revealed that he could make molecular bridges, and through them, transport an army against the will of the gods. These revelations overturned the arguments advanced originally by the elf Tanus, and showed also that Tanus had deceived the gods by hiding elf sorcery from them when knowledge of it was clearly relevant to his consideration of the risk of Free Worlds. Independent of any concern for the citizens of Clarus, therefore, Olympia was shaken by the knowledge that biological creatures could make space bridges, and that the elves had deceived them all. The equilibrium of the sector has since then been in constant doubt, and with it, the prosperity of the gods.
The gods helped sapiens in their fight against Gelden by allowing Clarans to summon aid from Olympia under the One-Percent of Lifetime rule. The Princes of Hell paid an enormous fine: one thousand million dollars. But it was not enough to drive them into bankruptcy.
Here are short descriptions of some of the most prominent gods. When a god owns a planet or a temple plot, she almost always uses a pseudonym with her clerics. If a pantheon owns the planet or temple plot, they will sometimes give themselves a divine-sounding name in the local language and go by that name as a single god, and sometimes they will have a collection of gods who rise and fall from power according to the manner in which the pantheon wants to influence its people. Even a single god owning a temple plot can represent himself as several gods. In good times, it might be the good god that rises to prominence in the eyes of the people. In bad times, it is the bad god. The clerics who talk to Olympia through space bridges are sometimes well-educaged and informed as to the nature of the organisation on the other side of the bridges, but most often they are as ignorant of the true nature of the gods as the next man. They might believe in an afterlife or not, depending upon the religion that the God espouses through the bridge. But the true name of the god who owns a planet of temple plot is a matter of public record on Olympia, so it is always possible to determine the true owner by asking an agent on Olympia to act on one's behalf and visit the Hall of Records.
Achilles came from Terra. Famous for his skill at arms. Owns Sedomundus, and together with Bakkus and Pandora owns Bragos. Votes in every Olympian election.
Aries came from Terra. Famous for his willingness live life on an equal footing with sapiens, and without revealing his divinity. He has published many essays describing his adventures on Vagor, although these are centuries old now. Recently, he was the center of attention on Olympia for his part in dominating the planet Corfu and causing the bankruptcy of the Stable Way corporation. His whereabouts were unknown for several decades, during which his assets were seized permanently by the Olympian Council. Through legal action, his debtors obtained most of his temple plots on Clarus. Recently, Aries has come to terms with the government, and his former debtors, who appear to have been his closest friends, returned his Claran temple plots to him, so that he once again owns the majority of temple plots in Ursia, with whome Aries has always had a close working relationship. He also owns the plot of Diamantis on the Satian Sea, where he is known as Alamasius.
Amaethon came from Terra, where his concentration was leading hunter-gatherer tribal groups into agricultural life. Here in the Free Worlds of the Celesti Sector, he promotes agricultural economy based upon self-reliant farming. In the twenty-fifth century he suffers from slight senility, spending ten years dormant and ten years active in alternation. He continues to promote a leisurely and harmonious agricultural lifestyle among his people in the Free Worlds, writing papers upon his successes and failures in harsh climates. His particular interests of late have been desert tribes in central Leaena in Clarus, where he is attempting to raise the quality of life of bushmen through application of better seeds and hygene, without compromising their animist religion, and taking his profit in the form of works of art. He is a member of a pantheon that manages several open worlds, and acts as advisor to the pantheon upon agricultural matters. Amaethon never hides his identity behind a pseudonym. He always goes by Amaethon. His holy symbol is always the same: a circle with a dot in the middle.
Athena came from Terra. Lives on Olympia, has exclusive ownership of the planet Draxius, which she manages with renowned efficiency. Recently, she made a Cultural Dynamist demonstration upon the planet Grauniad, when she advised a sapien king during his rise to power, to the detriment of the corporation that owns the planet. Athena is known for her Principle of Diverse Optimality, which states that there is no optimal form of government for all societies, but that the optimal form of government is dictated by the nature and circumstances of a population. She published the series of papers supporting her principle between the tenth and fifteenth centuries. The majority of her income comes from Draxius, but a significant portion comes from the four temple plots of Varay on Clarus. According to her work on Varay, and the work of others who have written about the nation, it is the population of Varay that is responsible for the nation's profitability. Athena's management of the plots is intended to make best use of the strength of the population, rather than to direct the population in any particular direction of development. In this case, the population is well-educated, assertive, and democratic. She provides health care through her clerics. These clerics must complete a study of Psychology and Theology at the School of Theology at Femur, north of Ankle. Athena funds this school and grants scholarships to promising students. Her priests are drawn from these graduates. The priests are judged by the health of the people in their parish, not by income from the parish.
Bakkus came from Terra. Famous for his charm and his parties. Is a leader among the Cultural Dynamists. Together with Pandora and Achilles, he owns Bragos, and he himself owns Overlook. Votes in every Olympian election. Bragos is the setting of the annual Bakkus Ball, to which all the gods are invited, and which most attend, along with ten thousand wealthy sapiens and elves from across the sector. Bakkus himself spends several months a year living in his floating city on Overlook, which shuttles between two well-used conjunctions.
Cesarean is one of the Young Gods. He did not come from Terra, and is of a different species from the Terran gods. He can make molecular bridges himself, and has provided gating services for companies in Pakesh. He lives on the planet Glare, which he owns.
Hygena worked with Mesmeris from 300BE to 300AE to establish drug-producing laboratories and sophisticated hospitals on Olympia to treat elves, dwarves and the bodies of the gods. In the second millennium, a team of sapiens and elves working for her on Olympia developed longevity drugs for sapiens. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, she accused the Princes of Hell of stealing her patented methods, and modifying them to produce longevity drugs for black orcs. Olympian patent laws give Hygena the royalties from sale of longevity drugs to sapiens and dwarves. She took the Princes of Hell to court in the twenty-second century, and the struggle still continues in the twenty-fifth century, with no clear winner. The Princes of Hell are representing themselves, and enjoy the contest. The patent laws and the dispensations allowed by the Reconciliation Treaty are so complicated that Hygena has been unable to win despite a large legal team of elves. Hygena was a member of the planet-managing corporation bankrupted by Aries's activities a few centuries ago. She lost all her property, but was able to retain possession of her patents, and therefore her income from longevity drugs and healing serums (she shares the serum patents with Mesmeris). But the Princes of Hell contend that the Olympian Council should take possession of those patents as well, and nullify them, as a result of Hygena's bankruptcy. Hygena votes in every Olympian election.
Cassandra is a vigorous god who arrived in the Celesti Sector from Terra, but via a different route, so that she is both younger than the other Terran gods, but also a contemporary of theirs in Terran history. She appears to suffer from no effects of age. Since her arrival in the sector, she has developed a special interest in exploiting mineral resources through the use of sapien miners. She advises pantheons upon their use of mineral deposits in the Open Worlds, but concentrates her own efforts upon several temple plots in Comitor, and in the past few centuries has begun to acquire plots in Clarus also. Her exploitation of a uranium mine in northern Clarus is described in a recent paper, and shows how she was able to convince uranium miners dying of radiation poisoning that their afflictions were the result of their own sins of thought. She profited greatly as a result of the extraction of the uranium to Olympia, where it is rare and valuable. She is fond of appearing before her subjects in person, inspiring awe in them through her personal beauty, charm, and grace. She is an expert swordswoman, with a soldier's body.
Helen is the very same Helen from the Terran legend Helen of Troy, as recounted in The Illiad. Her participation as a human being in the affairs of sapiens, without wielding a weapon, and yet causing war and devestation in Greece, was one of the reasons the Illuminati conceded that they could not force the Gods to do their will forever on Terra. Helen is the majority share-holder of the Endan Pantheon, which owns all the temple plots of Endor on Clarus. She has held this position since Endromis was founded. The tenets of her religion are honor, charitable works, goodness, and strength in the face of evil. Over the centuries, she has learned to appreciate the power of democracy to increase a nation's armies and to protect it from corruption of the ruling class. Her Endan temple plots are barely profitable financially, but her intention is not to make them profitable, but rather to make them prominent, and in this respect she has, over the millenia, succeeded admirably. It was the Endan armies that drove back and defeated the orcs at the end of the Dark Ages.
Lydia is the most recent god to arrive from Terra. She was rescued by a group of Pakesh-based adventurers a few years ago, and brought back to Olympia. She appears to have been a friend of the Terran gods who chose to stay there, but ended up trapped upon the planet without help or access to a new body.
Mesmeris worked with Hygena to establish medical facilities in the sector, but started going senile in the sixth century. He is active now for only one year out of every fifty. His estate is managed by his elf employees. No longer votes in Olympian elections.
One of the Young Gods. His spirit-class bridge tuning ability almost rivals that of the daemons, and so he is in demand upon Olympia as a tuner, but also in constant danger from daemons, who have made several attempts to capture and dismantle him for his tuning components.
Ormillia is a genetic engineer, remembered for creating giants in an effort to fight the hellspawn who invaded Clarus. She has since declined into senility. her giants never helped much because sapiens learned to fight the ogres the giants were intended to counter, and in any events, the ogres were still tougher and stronger than the giants. Nevertheless, thanks to Ormillia's estate, the descendants of the giants remain and are able farmers on the remote island of Ersay, and north of the whispering Sea, and in the Long Hills of the Western Outlands. the reconciliation granted the giants their own lands, thanks to Ormillia's efforts, and Ormillia's friend Shiva (one of the Princes of Hell) took them into her Long Hills, and other gods took them in elsewhere. Ormillia's giants are not classified as hellspawn, and are therefore free to travel in the Homelands of Clarus.
Panacea is now senile, but once an accomplished socioeconomic theorist. She did not manage sapien populations in the Celesti Sector, but did so on Terra before her emigration to Olympia in the fifth century. On Olympia, where she still lives, although she has been in senility treatment since the fifteenth century, she studied the work of other gods and based her theories upon their reports. She is most famous for her Principle of Maximal Taxation, known as Panacea's Principle, which states that stable governments must extract as much income in taxation as their population is willing to pay.
Pandora came from Terra. Has the reputation of being the cause of strife between the gods. Owns Bragos with Achilles and Bakkus. Votes in most Olympian elections.
Zeus was the first champion of Cultural Dynamism, whereby sapiens should be more free than dominated. Long before his arrival on Olympia among the first party of gods to do so, he had established himself as the leader of the gods living on Terra. He began is time on Terra as an ordinary god in a sapien body, but with the wealth he obtained on Terra, he paid to expand his brain to give himself several dramatic powers, and the ability to possess other bodies designed for the purpose. He was then four meters tall so that his body was strong enough to support is head. According to legend, his powers included throwing lighting bolts.
From the year 1000 AE onwards, the gods had to confront their growing senility, and the difficulty they faced in controlling their sapien populations. The Free Worlds, being sealed off, were filling up fast. The Open Worlds were up to capacity and prone to wars were breaking out between populations on many planets. Although the government of Olympia was by the elected Olympian Council, Zeus still retained the power to veto any of the Council's decisions, and he used his veto to stop many prudent measures in the name of Cultural Dynamism. He had always had difficulty controlling his temper, but now he lost all control, and flew into rages. He intimidated the gods with his wealth, his allies, and his personal power.
The gods came to realize that their beloved leader was losing his mind. They deposed him, and in a fury he fled to Vagor with his most loyal followers, stating that within a century he would rule the entire planet and return to take vengeance. At first he appears to have made some progress in his ambition, for he became king of a large and powerful nation. But fifty years later, he fell in battle, slain by a sapien solder.