Perspective on Melnibone


Let's take a Biblical figure, King David. He is recorded in the books of Kings & Chronicles. But in his life story, discernment becomes crucial. It is easy for Christians (yes i am one too) to simply take the text at face value, and believe every word that is said about King David. But if you step back, and view those books as i believe they should be viewed -as David's "official" narrative of what happened during his ascension and reign, a whole different story emerges. We start to understand when we read between the lines that David was a cold blooded killer who was always able to make a good story to account for the fact that persons of the house of king Saul seemed to die after associating with him. In other words, even though these things are recorded in the Bible, David says is not the same as God says.

We could make a similar but not identical argument about Julius Caesar. Was Caesar lying? Well, so far it seems no. He just tailored his story to make his own achievements look better, and mask his ulterior motives. He is going to minimize the contributions of his own Gaulic & other "barbarian" troops and the whole system of divide and conquer because he wants to highlight the exploits of his own Roman legions, and most of all, his leadership of them. Lying? Probably not -but definitely deceptive. He doesn't tell the whole story.

And that brings me to my point. I think the whole notion of Melnibonean primacy is being taken too literal. When Moorcock is narrating these stories, he is telling them from Elric's perspective. Did Melnibone rule the world? Yes -but no, just like Rome ruled the world, but not literally. They ruled most of "their" world -not the literal terra firma, and exerted at least some power in far reaches beyond through political & economic leverage, but they did not "rule" the world.

The version of history that Elric is taught does not want to look at the defeats Melnibone suffered -they will get brushed under the rug. It is going to focus on Melnibone's successes and exaggerate them. It is going to say for example, that his ancestors never conquered the Silent Lands because they simply didn't want to. It is not going to hint the possibility that they didn't conquer the Silent Lands because that may have been a fight that they did not want to pick. It is going to teach that Melnibone spread civilization across the world, but it is going to try to forget the fact that the proto-Melniboneans were the primitives when they came to this world, and though they were quick learners, it was this world that passed the civilization they advanced onto them. 10,000 years is a long time wherein to conveniently forget anything you do not want to know. Elric himself, as precocious as was, was very often ignorant of the history of his own people. He only had the official line he was taught to work from.

Why were the Unnamed Mountains nameless? Wouldn't that raise the curiosity of supposed global sovereigns.

How was Quarhasaat, a kingdom of bestial humans able to conjure magics that nearly destroyed Melnibone's power 2000 years before Elric?

Why did the Gods of Chaos eventually take interest in the Mabden of Pan Tang over Melnibone?

Why does Melnibone gloss over defeated enemies and treat them as footnotes? I think it is because they want to continue a facade of supremacy that was always bloated by their cultural ego. Were they brilliant? Yes. Were they accomplished? Definitely. But like the Romans of our world, they failed to appreciate the capacities of the world around them, or remember their own humble beginnings.

I think that by and large, RPG designers are taking too literally the Melnibonean supremacy. It needs to be realized that such notions are described from Elric's own perceptions, based on the indoctrination he received as a youth, which was cherry picked from a history of many thousands of years that only remembers what it chooses to. Once we realize this, we can start putting things in a more realistic perspective.