Pyramids is the seventh novel in the Discworld series. It was first published in 1989 by Victor Gollancz and won the British Fantasy Award for Best Novel in that year. The cover illustration is by Josh Kirby. The novel is split into four 'Books' and is really a collection of linked novellas; not a single novel with chapters or sections like Pratchett's later works Going Postal and Making Money or one long chapterless book like most of Pratchett's other works. Book I is The Book of Going Forth, which is a reference to the loose collection of Egyptian texts and spells for aiding passage into the afterlife, generally known as the Book of the Dead and originally know as the 'Book of Coming Forth by Day[ or Book of Emerging Forth into the Light'. (see the annotation for p. 9 of The Light Fantastic). Book II is The Book of the Dead, is a more direct reference to Egyptian Book of the Dead. Book III is The Book of the New Son which puns on the title of the Gene Wolfe SF novel The Book of the New Sun. Book IV is The Book of 101 Things A Boy Can Do, which is a reference to the 1933 book 101 Things For a Boy To Make by AC Horth and other subsequent educational books and pamphlets for children along similar lines. These earnest titles were parodied in the 1981 Book of cartoons by Simon Bond 101 uses for a Dead Cat. The novel portrays a "time polder", a bubble which comprises a particular slice of history and a particular bit of geography. In this "polder", history repeats itself through Dios, and critic Stefan Ekman argues that a central theme of the novel is the struggle of breaking free from the "polder", of leaving one's background behind. The novel also follows the pattern of most "popular' romantic novels; boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back again - except this novel has a twist on the theme at the end.
Being trained by the Assassins' Guild in Ankh-Morpork did not fit Teppic for the task assigned to him by fate. He inherited the throne of the desert kingdom of Djelibeybi rather earlier than he expected (his father wasn't too happy about it either), but that was only the beginning of his problems...
Young Pteppic has been in training at the Assassins Guild in Ankh-Morpork for several years. The day after passing his final exam he somehow senses that his father has died and that he must return home. Being the first Djelibeybian king raised outside the kingdom leads to some interesting problems, based on the fact that Dios, the high priest, is a stickler for tradition, and does not, in fact, allow the pharaohs to rule the country (he earnestly believes that such mundane tasks are beneath them).
After numerous adventures and misunderstandings, Pteppic is forced to escape from the palace, along with a handmaiden named Ptraci (pronounced Traci). Meanwhile, the massive pyramid being built for Pteppic's father warps space time so much that it "rotates" Djelebeybi out of alignment with the space/time of the rest of the disc by 90 degrees. Pteppic and Ptraci travel to Ephebe to consult with the philosophers there as to how to get back inside the Kingdom. Meanwhile, pandemonium takes hold in Djelibeybi, as the kingdom's multifarious gods descend upon the populace, and all of Djelibeybi's dead rulers come back to life. In addition, the nations of Ephebe and Tsort prepare for war with one another as Djelibeybi can no longer act as a buffer zone between the two since it has been reduced to a thin line.
Eventually, Pteppic re-enters the Kingdom and attempts to destroy the Great Pyramid, with the helps of all of his newly resurrected ancestors. They are confronted by Dios, who, it turns out, is as old as the kingdom itself, and has advised every pharaoh in the history of the Kingdom. Dios hates change and thinks Djelibeybi should stay the same. Pteppic succeeds in destroying the Pyramid, returning Djelibeybi to the real world and sending Dios back through time (where he meets the original founder of the Kingdom, thereby re-starting the cycle). He then abdicates, allowing Ptraci (who turns out to be his half sister) to rule. Ptraci immediately institutes much-needed changes.
- Grunworth Nivor
- Kompt de Yoyo
- King Teppicymon
Pyramids is almost totally disconnected from the rest of the series. It has only five characters who appeared in later books: Death, Xeno and Ibid (they only appear in Small Gods, the only novel more distanced from the series than this one), Princess Keli (who is mentioned in Soul Music and the earlier novel Mort) and Dr. Cruces, who appears in Men at Arms.
Pyramids also takes place in a completely new country which has yet to be visited again, although it is referenced in Small Gods as the country of origin of one of the 'commanders' of the fleet that invaded Omnia. The commander was one who "considered himself to always be in charge of everything", despite being the admiral of the small Djelibeybian fleet from a country mostly underwater during the floods which is also the smallest country on the continent of Klatch.
Carpe Jugulum does reference the design on the staff of Dios, the High Priest, as one of the many designs the Count inoculates his children to.
There is also a reference in Small Gods to a religious philosopher named Koomi, but it says that he is from Smale. It is unknown if he has any connection with Koomi the priest in Pyramids.
Popular References; Edit
The country of Djelibeybi, the meaning of which 'translates' as 'Child of the [River] Djel' (Djel i Beybi) is an obvious play on the British gummy candy "Jelly Baby" and this translation plays on Herodotus's famous claim that Egypt was the "gift of the Nile". Its name may also be a pun on Djellaba which is a loose woolen cloak worn by Arabs. Djelibeybi is the Discworld's equivalent of Ancient Egypt. It is the main setting of the novel. The country is about two miles wide along the length of the Djel, serving as a buffer zone between Tsort and Ephebe.
Page 7 (Penguin Edition) - "[...] the only turtle ever to feature on the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram, [...]" The Hertzsprung–Russell diagram, abbreviated as H–R diagram, HR diagram or HRD, is a scatter plot of stars showing the relationship between the stars' absolute magnitudes or luminosities versus their stellar classifications or effective temperatures. The diagram was created independently in around 1910 by Ejnar Hertzsprung and Henry Norris Russell, and represented a major step towards an understanding of stellar evolution.
Page 8 (Penguin Edition) - The numerous pyramids in Djelibeybi flaring their power into the night is reminiscent of oil and gas wells flaring gas off from their well heads and the description later when the pyramid is becoming uncontrollable is similar to those used to describe a runaway oil well. Throughout the novel, pyramids causes not only dire financial straits but also disturbances in space-time which keeps Djelibeybian society as it was seven thousand years ago. Pyramidology, the supposed mystical power of pyramids was a popular new age concept in Roundworld in the 1970s. "Pyramid power" is the belief that the ancient Egyptian pyramids and objects of similar shape can confer a variety of benefits: including the ability to preserve foods, sharpen or maintain the sharpness of razor blades, improve health, and trigger sexual urges.
Page 8 (Penguin Edition) - "what it is that handmaidens actually do" is a reference to Margaret Atwood's novel, "The Handmaiden's Tale". The origin is from the Bible. In Genesis 30:1-3 “And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her” (King James Bible). Clearly the Bible, Pratchett and Atwood are pointing out is that handmaidens are surrogates - the central point of Atwood's novel.
Page 8 (Penguin Edition) - The question of what our ancestors would be thinking if they were alive today, which Pratchett answers as "Why is it so dark in here?" is poking fun at the obvious - if they are our ancestors we would have buried them so they must be inside a dark coffin or in the ground.
Page 8 (Penguin Edition) - Dios's "snake-entwined shaft of office" recalls the Rod of Asclepius (Greek: Ράβδος του Ασκληπιού, Rábdos tou Asklipioú, sometimes also spelled Asklepios or Asclepius), also known as the Staff of Aesculapius and as the asklepian. In Greek mythology it is a serpent-entwined rod wielded by the Greek god Asclepius, a deity associated with healing and medicine. The symbol is used in Roundworld where it is associated with medicine and health care. Dios's shaft also is reminiscent of the staff of the god Hermes, the caduceus which has two snakes entwined and is often confused with Asclepius's rod. Dios takes his name from the Spanish word for "God", appropriate given that he is the high priest with aspirations.
Page 9 (Penguin Edition) - "Some people think a giant dung beetle pushes it (sic - the sun)." The Egyptians worshipped Khepri, the manifestation of Ra the sun god (Khepri was the morning sun, Ra the mid day and Amen the evening sun) who was represented with the face of the dung beetle or Scarab. He symbolized immortality, resurrection, transformation and protection. The scarab does in fact lay its eggs inside the ball of dung. Later in the novel, the sun is being rolled across the sky by a dung beetle.
Page 9 and 10 (Penguin Edition) - The image of Teppic getting ready to take his assassin's exam as he loads himself up with the weapons he needs or thinks he needs is a parody of just about every spy thriller from James Bond to Mission Impossible. Ultimately he falls over because he is so heavily laden with weapons while the other spy heroes somehow manage to carry the extra ton of weight easily and have just the right weapon for every situation imaginable. Teppich is a carpet in German but whether Pratchett intended this connection is unknown.
Page 10 (Penguin Edition) - "Morpork was twinned with a tar pit." This is a reference to the concept of twin cities. After the Second World War, it became de rigeur for cities and towns who had been on opposite sides to "twin" to create bonds between the people of the world so that they would never go to war again. It is not surprising that Morpork would twin with a tar pit. As a humorous note, according to Wikipedia, in Britain, the town of Cowes has a twin relation with the New Zealand township of Bulls.
Page 11 (Penguin Edition) - "Teppic paused alongside a particularly repulsive gargoyle [...] He found himself drumming his fingers on the gargoyle, [...] Mericet appeared in front of him, wiping grey dust off his bony face." In the style of assassins and spies in all worlds, the gargoyle is not what it appears to be but is in fact Mericet and Teppic had been leaning on his camouflaged instructor all the time.
Page 11 and following (Penguin Edition) - Teppic's test.
Teppic's examination is heavily modelled on the British Driving test although anyone who has taken an oral seafarers exam for Masters and Mates or has had to defend a post-graduate dissertation or thesis will also recognize similarities to the assassins test. Many of the elements of a driving test are present in the passages which follow: The short list of questions, the sign on a small card (often held upside down), the clipboard. Mericet's rather stilted language, "Now, I want you to proceed at your own pace towards the Street of Book-keepers, obeying all signs and so forth", is almost a direct parody, as is the little speech at the end of the test. The 'Emergency Drop' (p. 42) is the 'Emergency Stop', where you have to stop the car "as if a child has run out into the road, while keeping control of the vehicle at all times". Finally, the back of the Highway Code has a table with minimum vehicle stopping distances, which examiners almost never ask about.
Page 15 (Penguin Edition) "He [...] jumped a narrow gap on to the tiled roof of the Young Men's Reformed-Cultists-of-the-Ichor-God-Bel-Shamharoth Association gym, [...]" This is a reference to the Roundworld, YMCA youth hostels. YMCA stands for 'Young Men's Christian Association', and Pratchett pokes fun at it in other novels (the Young Men's Pagan Association in The Light Fantastic) as do others like Monty Python and their 'Young Men's Anti-Christian Association'.
Page 15 (Penguin Edition) - "[...] the narrow plank bridge that led across Tinlid Alley." In Roundworld, Tin Pan Alley is the popular name for the music publishing industry, the name derived from the area in New York City near 14th Street, where many publishers of popular songs had their offices in the late 19th / early 20th century and which was known as Tin Pan Alley. One theory says that the name came from aspiring composers auditioning their new songs, with the din of so many songs being pounded out of pianos up and down the street giving the district its name. Another theory h eldthat the name derived from the rattling of tins by rivals when a performance was too loud and too protracted. In Soul Music, the Guild of Musicians have their headquarters Tin Pan Alley.
Page 16 (Penguin Edition) - "I think they prefer words like 'conclude', or 'annul'. Or 'inhume' [...]" These euphemisms for killing and murder reflect the kinds of words organizations like the CIA use like "terminate with extreme prejudice" and "wetwork" which make the act appear less reprehensible.
Page 17 (Penguin Edition) - "When upstarts like Tsort and Ephebes were just a bunch of nomads with their towels on their heads". A standard pejorative for Arabs is to refer to their keffiyeh as a towel.
Page 18 (Penguin Edition) - The scene when Teppic is talking with his father prior to leaving for boarding school is a take off on the stereotypical British upper class relationship between fathers and sons as portrayed in numerous novels from Brideshead Revisited to Tom Brown's School Days.
Page 19 (Penguin Edition) - '"Its quite all right, Father," he said. "Dios the high priest explained to me about taking regular baths, and not going blind."' This is an old saw (perhaps not so old in some religious circles) about taking a cold bath or shower to cool off your libido and that masturbating led to blindness.
Page 20 (Penguin Edition) - "[...] the Plague of Frog." refers to the Biblical 'Plague of Frogs' from Exodus where the Lord directs Moses to tell the Pharaoh to free the people or be faced with a plague of frogs.
Page 20 (Penguin Edition) - Regarding the Assassin's Guild School, Pratchett confirms the connection to Rugby School in the 1857 novel Tom Brown's Schooldays by Thomas Hughes which introduced the character of Flashman later popularized in a series of novels by George MacDonald Fraser. Teppic parallels Tom, Chidder is Harry "Scud" East, Arthur is George Arthur and Cheesewright is sort of Flashman, (Cheesewright dies in attempting to complete his final exam while Flashman is expelled). The line on p. 28 about "'If he invites you up for toast in his study, don't go,'" resonates with the incident where Tom is roasted in front of the fire by Flashy and his cronies. The reference to blanket-tossing on p. 47, which Arthur puts a stop to, is also an incident from Tom's first day in Tom Brown's School Days. The scene in the dormitory on the first night, when Arthur gets down to say his prayers, also has an equivalent in the book.
Page 25 (Penguin Edition) - Teppic say, "this isn't much more than a 3, maybe a 3.2" as he climbs the outside of the building during his "Run" or final exam. The term 'edificeering' is known by the same name in Roundworld as well as buildering, urban climbing, structuring, skywalking, boulding, or stegophily. It describes the act of climbing on the outside of buildings and other artificial structures. 3.2 is a reference to the difficulty scale used in the sport with 5.0 being the most difficult and 1 a pleasant stroll in the countryside. Scale 3 climbs are steep scrambles with exposure and some short technical work. The dagger used as an aid is being used like a climber's piton and Teppic actually carries some pitons in his kit.
Page 26 (Penguin Edition) - "My mother was a concubine, I think."
"I thought that was some sort of vegetable."
Pratchett is making a very obvious play with a twist on concubine (the mistress of a higher class person such as a pharaoh) and cucumber (an edible gourd usually referred to as a vegetable but which is really a fruit) which has phallic symbolism). The connection to cucumbers reoccurs in the embalming sequence on page 61 with the pickle references.
Page 27-28 (Penguin Edition) -"People drop out all the time," said Chidders. "Can't stand the course." Pratchett is playing with the expression "can't stay the course" meaning "couldn't finish what they set out do accomplish" and the literal meaning of the words, ie "didn't like the course of study".
Page 28 (Penguin Edition) - "the whole window swung out in tribological silence". Tribology is the science and engineering of interacting surfaces in relative motion. It includes the study and application of the principles of friction, lubrication, and wear.
Page 28 (Penguin Edition) - Chidders comments that Arthur is just some new kid "hanging onto his mummy, I see. He won't last long" To which Teppic replies, "Oh I don't know,.... we've lasted for thousands of years". Pratchett is making another very obvious play on words with Arthur clinging to his mother versus Teppic referring to the embalmed mummies of his ancestors in their pyramid tombs.
Page 28 (Penguin Edition) - "He selected a Number Five, not everyone's throwing knife, but worthwile if you had the trick of it." Pratchett likens the selection of a weapon to choosing a golf club from your golf bag.
Page 34 (Penguin Edition) - "one of the boys from further along the coast, shyly tried to put the boy in the next bed inside a wickerwork cage he had made in Craft and set fire to him" is a reference to the alleged practice in the old Celtic/Druidic religion of placing victims inside a giant wicker cage shaped like a man and setting them on fire.
Page 34 (Penguin Edition) - "Snoxall, [...] painted himself green and asked for volunteers to have their intestines wound around a tree". This is a reference to the green man mythology which has developed in many ancient cultures. In Roundworld, for many modern Pagans, the Green Man is used as a symbol of seasonal renewal and ecological awareness. In Wicca, the Green Man has often been used as a representation of the Horned God, a syncretic deity that incorporates aspects of, among others, the Celtic Cernunnos and the Greek Pan. Disembowelling was a common form of torture used throughout the world to inflict maximum pain before death because the victim was usually alive for most of the process. But of significance within the Celtic/Druid tradition, it was used as a form of ritual sacrifice,particularly related to their kings. Ned Kelly of the National Museum of Ireland states the following: Clonycavan Man was disemboweled and struck three times across the head with an axe and once across the body and also had his nipples cut. Sucking a king’s nipples was a gesture of submission in ancient Ireland so cutting them would have made him incapable of kingship in this world or the next. By using a range of methods to kill the victim, the ancient Irish sacrificed to the goddess in all her forms. This manner of death is peculiar to the ritual killing of kings. It means that a king was being decommissioned.
Page 38 (Penguin Edition) - A caltrap or caltrop is a device composed of four spikes or points arranged so that no matter how it is thrown on the ground, it rests on three spikes with the fourth upright. It has been used since at least Roman times to stop chariots, horses, camels and elephants in war and in more modern times to puncture pneumatic tyres.
Page 38, (Penguin Edition) - "Priests were metal-reinforced overshoes. They saved your soles". Pratchett is punning on priests (religious) saving your soul and the overshoes saving the sole of your foot from being punctured by a caltrop as well as potentially saving your soul if the caltrop was poisoned.
Page 39 footnote (Penguin Edition) - The scientific name for the Discworld blowfish is given as 'singularis minutia gigantica' which would translate in "latin" as 'individual small items giant' or 'small individuals becoming big' an appropriate name for a fish that self inflates. Gigantic comes from the Greek gigas, in compounds as gigant-. The Romans borrowed both to make the Latin noun gigas and its adjective gigantem. Old English took its word for giant from the Latin adjective, making gigant. The real Roundworld scientific name for this family is Tetraodontidae coming from its four (tetra) large teeth fused into an upper and lower plate (dent or teeth). Both Discworld and Roundworld's blowfish/puffer fish are poisonous, but Discworld's has the more creative means of killing its attacker and both are a gastronomic delacacy, albeit risky ones.
Page 39 (Penguin Edition) - "He unslung his crossbow [...] It wasn't a proper weapon [...] ". This is a World of Warcraft reference.
Page 41 (Penguin Edition) "'Truly, the world is the mollusc of your choice...'" - a play on the saying "the world is your oyster". The oyster is, of course, a mollusc.
'Page 41 (Penguin Edition) - "My family have been in commerce for years." Clearly commerce is a euphemism for organized crime.
Page 43 (Penguin Edition) - "I will not ask you to take it from my hands" is a reference to the 1970s television series Kung Fu starring David Carradine, in which Carradine as the young martial arts student is finally able to snatch a pebble from his master's hand, indicating he has developed sufficient skills and wisdom and is ready to leave the school and venture into the world as a Kung Fu Master or in Teppic's case as a qualified assassin. Pratchett also plays with the Kung Fu reference in his novel Mort.
Page 47 (Penguin Edition) - "[...] the day when Fliemoe and some cronies had decided [...]" Flymo is a lawnmower without wheels that operates like a grass cutting hovercraft. Pratchett commented that: "I may as well reveal this one. That section of the book is 'somewhat like' Tom Brown's Schooldays. A bully (right hand man to the famous Flashman) was Speedicut. Speedicut is (was?) a name for a type of lawnmower -- I know, because I had to push the damn thing... Hence... Fliemoe. Well, it's better than mugging old ladies..."
Page 47 (Penguin Edition) - "It transpired that he was the son of the late Johan Ludorum [...]."
At a British public school/grammar school sports day, the pupil who overall won the most, was declared 'Victor Ludorum' -- Latin for "Winner of the games".
Page 48 (Penguin Edition) - "He could send for Ptraci, his favourite handmaiden." - with all words starting with 'Pt' the 'p' is silent. In Britain, Tracey is often used to generically refer to the kind of girl immortalised in "dumb blonde" jokes, or Essex Girl jokes as they are known in the UK. (See also the annotation for p. 132 of Equal Rites.)
Page 48 (Penguin Edition) - The squishi chef is obviously Discworld's equivalent of a sushi chef.
Page 52 (Penguin Edition) - "It's rather like smashing a sixer in conkers."
The game of conkers is a traditional children's game which originated in the British Isles although it has spread around the world and even has an annual world championship tournament. Conkers are the nuts of the Horse Chestnut (the non-edible chestnut), which is attached to a length of string. Strategies for toughing up your conker include baking it slowly in an oven or marinating it in vinager or simply letting it dry for a year before using it. The game itself is played when one player challenges another to a match. One player then holds his conker up at arms length on the end of its bit of string, while the other player tries to swing his conker with sufficient force to break the other player's conker. After a swing, roles are reversed. Since this is mainly a male sport, whose participants' average age is generally about seven, there is always the potential for strategic 'misses' against the opponent's knuckles and other parts of his anatomy. When one conker breaks another, the winning conker becomes a 'one-er'. A conker which has won twice, is a 'two-er'. Hence a 'sixer' has won six times and is obviously a good one.
Page 51 (Penguin Edition) - "A Wizard's Staff has a Knob on the End" is a play on the kinds of popular drinking songs sung by rugby or football teams in the locker room or bar. The obvious reference is phallic and "polishing the staff/knob" are all vulgar slang terms in British English referring to parts of the penis and male masturbation. The song was introduced in Wyrd Sisters and sung regularly by Nanny Ogg. Wizards themselves find the song rather confusing, and have been known to defensively ask just what is so funny about their staffs having knobs on the end, or about their insistence on polishing them.
Page 53 (Penguin Edition) - The legend of Ankh-Morpork being founded by two orphaned brothers who had been found and suckled by a hippopotamus refers to the legend of Romulus and Remus, the two orphaned brothers who founded Rome and were raised by a wolf.
Page 53 (Penguin Edition) - Death appears on the scene at Teppicymon XXVII's death and as in all Discworld novels speaks in CAPITAL LETTERS. This conversation with the late king is the first hint that perhaps the Djelibeybians have the religion thing all wrong. Teppicymon is expecting Death to appear as a three headed giant beetle carrying the Flail of Mercy and the Reaping Hook of Justice so is surprised to see Death carrying a scythe and pointing out that a beetle would have a hard time carrying anything unless he used his mandibles. Teppicymon is also expecting Death to lead him off to the afterlife where as Death points out he is only there "TO SEE THAT YOU DIE AT THE APPOINTED TIME, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT IS UP TO YOU." suggesting that your destination once you die depends on your individual beliefs.
Page 52 (Penguin Edition) - "Well now, what have here?" is a stereotypical phrase along with "Allo, allo, allo, what's all this then?" used by British policemen upon discovering someone in the act of committing a crime. Pratchett plays with it by having the criminals use the phrase instead of the police.
Page 61 (Penguin Edition) - "Hoot Koomi, high priest of Khefin, the two faced god of gateways, stepped forward." The name Koot Hoomi (or Kuthhumi) is a Sanskrit word that means 'teacher'. In Roundworld, Koot Hoomi was the author of a series of letters that were published as The Mahatma Letters To A. P. Sinnett, forming the basis of many theosophical teachings and which are now held in the British Library. The Roman God Janus, has two faces as he looks to the future and the past. The two faced god of gateways is also looking to the past and future as people enter the kingdom or town and leave it. But he is also the two faced god because he is two faced, on the surface supporting Dios but secretly plotting to replace him. Khefin's name is likely derived from the German word "chefin" meaning "boss" but it also resonates with the personal name "Kevin".
Page 61 (Penguin Edition) - "Dil the Embalmer is attending upon him at this instance." This is a typical Pratchett pun that is easy to miss. An embalmer is a pickler so we have Dill Pickle. The name of Dil's apprentice, Gern is probably also not chosen at random. "Gurning" is a rustic entertainment of making strange faces and Gern certainly has an aptitude for rustic humour. 'Gern' also means "gladly' in German but equally could be a shortened form of Gherkin another word for a type of pickle. Whether Pratchett' was thinking of any or all of these connections is unclear. There is a brand of dill pickles called "Granny Gern's" but the connection is unlikely.
Page 63 (Penguin Edition) - Pratchett has combined a couple of different gods into the god ruler of Djelibeybi as portrayed by Teppic and his father. Teppic displays one of the main Green Man traits when vegetation shoots begin to sprout around him when he assumes the role of god after his father's death. The Green Man is a symbol of spring and renewal in many cultures specifically the Celtic one. In ancient Egypt, which Djelibeybi is patterned after, Renpet, an aspect of Isis, was the goddess who personified fertility, spring and youth. She was often known as the “Mistress of Eternity” and her name was used to express the term “year”. She is depicted as a young woman wearing a palm shoot representing 'time' over her head. The Egyptian god of the annual flooding of the Nile (Teppic makes the river flood at Ankh-Morpork flood) is Hapi, an androgynous god with the aspects of a man (beard) and pendulous breast of a fertile woman.
Page 64 (Penguin Edition) - When Teppic is being diagnosed at the school sanitarium the doctor says he has '"A case of mortis portalis tackulatum" [...] "he's as dead as a door nail"'. Pratchett loves using Latin sounding terms and phrases to create a pun or play on words. In this case, mortis is 'death' in Latin, portalis is 'portal' (gateway in Latin) combined with a Latin sounding ending and tackulatum is a combination of the English word 'tack' and another Latin sounding ending. The real Latin word for 'nail' is 'clavus'. Since there is no Latin word for 'doornail' the phrase would really be something like "mortuus est doornail" or if door nail is turned into two words "mortuus est sicut ostium clavum".
Page 64 (Penguin Edition) - The doctor's diagnosis continues with the comment that Teppic has "pyrocerebrum oeurf culinaire" meaning in mock Latin that his brain is so hot you could cook an egg on it. Pyro meaning fire in Greek, cerebrum is Latin for 'brain', oeurf is a corruption of 'oeuf' (the French word for 'egg') with a spare 'r' thrown in the way some English dialects do in spoken English and culinaire means 'culinary' in French.
Page 64 (Penguin Edition) - "He's dead. All the medical tests prove it. So, er... bury him, keep him nice and cool, and tell him to come and see me next week. In daylight, for preference." The doctor is parroting all the cliches the medical profession uses in treating patients to claim expertise over the layman, even when they haven't a clue what the problem is - ie. lab tests prove it, cool the patient to bring down a fever, book a followup appointment to confirm the treatment is working. The added comment to 'come in daylight' ties in with the comment about Teppic being dead and needing to be buried - a precaution in the event that Teppic is really a vampire since daylight is deadly to them (at least since the Nosferatu film of 1922).
Page 67 (Penguin Edition) - "'Get it? Your name in lights, see?'". This is another one of Pratchett's double ententres since getting "your name in lights" means achieving fame and success. But 'lights' is also a word for the internal organs of sheep, pigs, etc. Since they are embalming the king, Gern has probably taken the various organs which are removed from the dead king during the embalming process and spelt out Dil's name in his 'lights'.
Page 67 (Penguin Edition) - "'[...] I didn't think much of the Gottle of Geer routine, either.'" Ventriloquists who want to demonstrate their skill include the phrase "bottle of beer" as part of their patter. Since, no matter how skilled a ventriloquist you are, it is impossible to pronounce the 'B' without moving your lips, it usually comes out as "gottle of geer". Gern has presumably been playing macabre ventriloquism games with the corpse.
Page 67 (Penguin Edition) - ] "'Good big sinuses, which is what I always look for in a king.'"
In the process of embalming, the Egyptians removed the deceased's brain through the nose cavity so large sinus cavities would simplify the job for an embalmer.
Page 70 (Penguin Edition) - "No one had borrowed any of the stones [from the pyramids] to make houses or build roads [...] No one had unsealed the doors and wandered around inside to see if the dead had any old treasure they weren't using any more". This is an obvious reference to the way castles, amphitheaters, aquaducts, bridges and ancient buildings were pulled down by the local populace and their stones recycled into walls, houses and roads. In addition, many of the Egyptian and MesoAmerican pyramids and other ancient tombs around the world were robbed (and continue to be robbed) for their treasures by archaeologists and antiquities robbers removing the artifacts for museums and private collections.
Page 70 (Penguin Edition) - "Seven thousand years ago Khuft had led his people out of [...] somewhere they hadn't liked being." This is a reference to Exodus in the Bible where Moses leads his people out of Egypt. In the Discworld version, Khuft leads his people into the equivalent of Egypt. The Moses connection continues with Teppic wading ashore through the reeds. Moses was found in the reeds in a basket when a baby. Khuft's name also resonates with the real Egyptian king, "Khufu" who is commonly known as Cheops.
Page 71 (Penguin Edition) - "The greatest mathematician alive on the Disc [...] spent a few minutes proving that an automorphic resonance field has a semi-infinite number of irresolute prime ideals". Later Pratchett reveals that the greatest mathematician is, in fact, a camel. Whether the mathematical concepts and equations he discusses throughout the novel are real or simply a stringing together of a number of concepts into something that sounds good is best left to higher mathematicians and camels.
Page 75 (Penguin Edition) - "'Do I really have to wear this gold mask?'"
The scene where Dios dresses up Teppic in his King's outfit (starting with the Flail of Mercy and culminating in the Cabbage of Vegetative Increase) is a parody of the old BBC children's game show Crackerjack. In this show the contestants were asked questions, and for each correct answer they received a prize, which they had to hold on to. If they answered wrong, they were given a large cabbage, increasing the likelihood of dropping everything. The person left at the end of the show who hadn't dropped anything won the game.
The actual religious objects Teppic is forced to wear are connected with his role as the god of spring and renewal as outlined in the annotation for page 63 above. The "Flail of Mercy", "Reaping Hook of Justice" and the "Sheaf of Plenty" are all connected with agriculture and harvesting grain. The "three pronged Spear of the Waters of the Earth" (ie trident) is connected with the bounty of the sea and it and the "Gourd of the Waters of Heavens are also associated with watering the land for crops. Pratchett juxtaposes the common concepts of "heaven and earth" found throughout the Bible as well as such works as Milton's Paradise Lost, in these items. Additionally the "the Honeycomb of Increase" resonates with bee keeping, pollination and renewal of plants and crops and with the final item, the "Cabbage of Vegetative Increase" suggest a good harvest. But in addition to these generally positive attributes, the "Flail of Mercy" and "Reaping Hook of Justice" both have sinister connotations. Djelibeybi's religion, in common with many Roundworld religions (as well as militaries), from the Spanish Inquisition to modern times, has given names that connote positive images to items that can be or are used for violence and suffering. (The Maiden, the Captain's daughter, the Judas Cradle and Waterboarding, to name just a few.) Flails and reaping hooks were used in agriculture for grain harvesting but were also used by peasants as weapons and as means of torture. Mercy and Justice are usually linked and in religious terms are two key components of salvation. Torture methods were often used to punish religious transgressions and bring people back in line with the church or government's doctrine in order to ensure their salvation. Finally, the "Asp of Wisdom" ties in with "Mercy and Justice" but also with Egypt in that the Asp was the means by which Cleopatra committed suicide.
Page 75 and following (Penguin Edition) - The conversation between Dios and Teppic as Teppic is dressed in his robes and accessories of office is very reminiscent of PG Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster series which Pratchett references throughout his Discworld series. Dios's language and patronizing tone are similar to Jeeves, the man servant and Teppic is similar to Wooster.
Page 77 (Penguin Edition) - "'Interfamilial marriage is a proud tradition of our lineage,' said Dios."
'Intrafamilal marriage' is the phrase Dios really wants because 'Interfamilial marriage' would mean marriage between different families. Marriage within families is very common in societies where the ruling class has all the power and wants to retain it. Marriage within different families but within the same class level is common in societies where families want to create links with others to increase the power their families holds. In more primitive societies, studies have shown that nomadic people tend to marry outside the family while agrarian societies tend to marry within, more often. In Ancient Egypt, marriage between brothers and sisters was the norm as not surprisingly, the Pharoahs wanted to maintain their powerful positions. Teppic is astonished to hear that his great-great-grandmother once declared herself male as a matter of political expediency. In Ancient Egypt, Hatshepsut, the daughter of Thutmose I, wife and half-sister of Thutmose II, and mother-in-law of Thutmose III actually did proclaim herself king in order to seize the throne.
Page 80 (Penguin Edition) - Dil says, "Definitely not the calico. On him it's too big." This macabre discussion has its parallel in the world of fashion and clothing, except that they are discussing a corpse.
Page 80 (Penguin Edition) - "He'd lurch halfway down the corridor, maybe throttle one of them [...] then he is coming undone" This is a reference to the 1932 horror movie "The Mummy" starring Boris Karloff and its endless sequels, remakes and spinoffs where a half unwrapped corpse is pursuing its victims through its pyramid tomb.
Page 81 (Penguin Edition) - "he tried to imitate Dios's walk, and found the movements coming back to him. your turned your torso this way, then you turned your head this way, and extended your arms at forty-five degrees to your body with your palms down, and then you attempted to move."
This is another reference to "The Mummy" as seen in any of the movies of that name. But it is also another hint, like the description of Dios's bedroom and his name, that Dios is in fact no longer of this world.
Page 82 (Penguin Edition) - - The spelling of the names of Pteppic, Ptraci, Pta-ka-ba and Ptaclusp follow the ancient Egyptian pattern found in the name of the Ptolemic dynasty where the first letter in Ptolemy is silent.
Page 82 (Penguin Edition) - The name of King Pta-ka-ba plays on several Ancient Egyptian concepts. Pratchett has deliberately divided the name of the king into syllables, giving the reader a broad hint of his intent. Thei first syllable Pta is a reference to the Egyptian creator god, Pta, who existed before all other things and, by his will, thought the world into existence. The second and third syllables, Ka and Ba are the two parts of the soul. Ka is the part of the soul believed to be the life-force of a person after death. Ka was confined to the pyramid tomb, its temporary home, until it could rejoin the Ba and journey to the afterlife. The Ba was the part of the soul that could fly and escape the tomb, visiting the person's former haunts as well as the underworld. The Ba returned to the tomb until the person's earthly life was judged at which point the two parts of the soul would be reunited in the afterlife. The process of mummification delayed the decomposition of the body so that the two parts of the soul could be reunited. If they failed to reunite, the person died a second death which meant that all trace of the person's existence would be erased from memory. This second death was feared more than anything by the Egyptians - the complete obliteration of a person's existence. The person would then be condemned to wander as a ghost for the rest of time. The first sylable of the name resonates with other Egyptian sounding names as explained in the note above for Page 82. Takaba is also the name of several African towns (Mali and Kenya) which Pratchett may have been considering because this king ruled when Djelibeybi covered half of the continent which inclusion of the lands as far as Mali and Kenya would have done.
Page 82 (Penguin Edition) - As with the king's name, Pratchett has deliberately divided the name of Queen Khat - leon- ra- pa into its syllables to make sure the reader does not miss his intent. Her name resonates with Queen Cleopatra but also connotes 'cats' (Khat and leon) which both the Djelibeybians and Egyptians worshipped. Pratchett is clearly also playing with Khat or Qat which is a Middle Eastern stimulant made from the leaves of the shrub Catha edulis which are chewed like tobacco or used to make tea. "Leon" may also be a reference to Leon of Pella, the 4th Century Greek historian, priest and theologian known as Leon the Egyptian who wrote the book on the 'Gods in Egypt' (Περὶ τῶν κατ' Αἴγυπτον Θεῶν), based on an apocryphal letter of Alexander the Great to his mother Olympias.The third syllable, "ra" is an obvious reference to Ra, the Sun God, the principle god in Egypt and the final syllable pa (Pta) has been explained above.
Page 82 (Penguin Edition) - "She wins the kingdom of Howondaland by stealth" Howandaland is often considered to come from Lewis Carroll's Wonderland particularly since Lady Alice Venturi (or Alice in Howondaland) was an early explorer and anthropologist in the country. Pratchett has stated that he did not like Alice in Wonderland or Alice Through the Looking Glass but that hasn't stopped him from using references to the books in other novels. The name could also be from Gondwanaland, one of the ancient supercontinents of Earth, as the existence of continental drift on Discworld, including a Pangola (instead of Pangaea) is documented. The Roundworld equivalent draws on many aspects of British colonial Africa, from South Africa north.
Page 84 (Penguin Edition) - The debate in the embalming room between Dios, Teppic and Teppicymon WWVII about being entombed under tons of granite rock in a pyramid goes to the heart of various religious and atheistic debates regarding the afterlife. The Djelibeybians believe in entombing their kings under rock pyramids as a tribute while the dead kings curse them because it traps them in a dark hole and prevents them from enjoying the afterlife. Clearly the Djelibeybians belief is not supported by reality and although they are well intentioned they have, nor can have, any real knowledge of the afterlife. We, in Roundworld debate the nature of Heaven, the existence of Hell or whether all in all we are just consigned to dust in the ground. Each group speaks with conviction but can have no more knowledge of what happens after we die than the Djelibeybians.
Page 87 (Penguin Edition) - "Then that would be one of the standard models" This line and the fdiscussion with Ptaclusp and Dios on the following pages, suggesting the Executive model, adding extra features and doing the right thing as a son in remembering his father, are take offs on the cliches about Funeral Homes trying to upsell the grieving family on a fancier casket and more elaborate service.
Page 88 (Penguin Edition) - Ptaclusp's name has the connection to Pta, the Egyptian creator god -appropriate given that Ptaclusp creates pyramids. "Clusp" invokes "clasp" as in 'grab' or 'hold onto' which is appropriate given the cliches about undertakers. The whole name also resonates with "tie clasp" but whether Pratchett was thinking along this line is unknown.
Page 89 (Penguin Edition) - Mazes, deadfalls, traps, etc within pyramid tombs are a common feature to stop grave robbers, particulary in movies in the "Indiana Jones" or "Laura Croft" vein.
Page 89 (Penguin Edition) - one of the best models of the mazes is called the "Labrys". A Labrys is actually a the Lydian word for a double bitted axe. Some, but not all, scholars argue that the term "Labyrinth" (maze) comes from "Labrys" meaning the "house of the double axe" but others argue that there is no connection. Pratchett is clearly siding with the former group in naming Ptaclusp's maze, the Labrys.
Page 90 (Penguin Edition) - footnote -"In the Good old Innundation" would obviously not be as popular a song as "In the good old summertime" because it does not scan properly.
Page 91 (Penguin Edition) - The references to Dios "looking a little pale" and "having to cross the river again tonight" are more examples of foreshadowing that Dios is not human and is in fact dead or undead. Crossing the river is a common expression meaning to 'go over to the other side' or 'cross the river Styx' as in 'die'.
Page 92 (Penguin Edition) - "A few stars had been let out early [...] there are billions of universes stacked alongside one another". This is a reference to astronomer Carl Sagan's common themes which Pratchett uses throughout his opus, particularly in "Small Gods".
Page 93 (Penguin Edition) - Dios says, "A pyramid? [...] Sire, I already have one" further confirmation that Dios has come back from the dead and that his unusual bedroom, mentioned earlier is in fact a tomb.
Page 94 (Penguin Edition) - Pratchett pokes fun at the various religions of Roundworld, all of which claim to be the correct one, with the multitude of gods, many of whom are duplicating the functions of other gods as well as the various myths associated with each that are contradictory. In Roundworld, these various beliefs are generally not held within one religious group, as in Djelibeybi.
Page 94 (Penguin Edition) - "And Dios knew that Net was the supreme god [...] and [...] Fon [...] and [...] Hast, Set, Bin, Sot, Io, Dhek and Ptooie, that Herpetine Triskeles alone ruled the world of the dead and so did Syncope, and Sillur the Catfish-Headed God and Orexis-Nupt. Pratchett provides a mix of gods from Discworld, Ancient Egypt and various plays on words, intended or accidental. Blind Io is in fact the chief god in the Discworld pantheon residimg in Dunmanifestin on Cori Celesti. In medicine, Syncope is the temporary loss of consciousness caused by a drop in blood pressure. In grammar it is the dropping of letters in the middle of a word in spoken language - (probably pronounced 'probly'). Sot is a slang term for a habitual drunkard and also means 'voice' in Arabic (the language spoken in Egypt). Ptooie is the sound one makes when spitting. Bin is British slang for 'to throw something in the rubbish bin' (trash can) and also means 'between' in Arabic. Orexis - Nupt comes from the Latin orexis (“longing; appetite”) which is from Ancient Greek ὄρεξις (órexis, “desire”) and Nupt is the abbreviation for marriage as in nuptials. Whether this link was Pratchett's intent is anyone's guess - a god of the underworld whose name connotes marriage and desire is an odd connection unless one thinks of such themes which Pratchett uses elsewhere such as the legend of Orpheus and Euridice. Set or Seth is the God of Chaos, among other things, in the Ancient Egyptian religion. A triskelion or triskeles is a motif consisting of a triple spiral exhibiting rotational symmetry, while herpetine connotes 'serpentine' with its connection to 'winding', 'serpent' and its associations with the fall from the Garden of Eden and ultimately 'death' and 'herpes'. There was a fish goddess in Ancient Egyptian religion, Hatmehit, or Hatmehyt, rather than Sillur, who was connected to the flood. Sillur may be taken from Silure. The Silures were a British Celtic tribe in Wales in Roman times but the name 'silurian' also referes to the third period of the Paleozoic era, between the Ordovician and Devonian periods.
Page 95 (Penguin Edition) - "Lights were burning late in the house of Ptaclusp Associates, Necropolitan Builders to the Dynasties". In Dungeons and Dragons, Necropolitans are creatures who have naturally and unnaturally become undead and the term has been used throughout the sci fi and horror genres. The word origin is from Ancient Greek νεκρόπολις nekropolis, literally meaning "city of the dead". A necropolis (plural necropolises, necropoles, necropoleis, necropoli) is a large, designed cemetery with elaborate tomb monuments.
Page 95 (Penguin Edition) - Ptaclusp IIa and Ptaclusp IIb are Ptaclusp's sons. Pratchett plays with the quote from Hamlet "To be or not to be, that is the question" in other novels so it is likely that is his intent here with IIb who ultimately ends up "not IIb".
Page 95 (Penguin Edition) - "It's a question of mass. And the power to rate ratio." Power-to-weight ratio (or specific power or power-to-mass ratio) is a calculation commonly applied to engines and mobile power sources to enable the comparison of one unit or design to another. Power-to-weight ratio is a measurement of actual performance of any engine or power source. Not normally applied to a stationary object like a pyramid.
Page 96 (Penguin Edition) - "'This thing could put an edge on a rolling pin.'" See the reference for page 8 on Pyramid power and sharpening razor blades. Pratchett pokes fun at the pseudo-science of pyramids in The Light Fantastic as well.
Page 100 (Penguin Edition) - "'Squiggle, constipated eagle, wiggly line, hippo's bottom, squiggle' [...] the Sun God Teppic had Plumbing Installed and Scorned the Pillows of his Forebears."
The constipated eagle is obviously the plumbing system, the hippo's bottom comes from a British advertisement for Slumberdown beds, which featured a hippo sitting down next to a chick. The squiggle and wiggle line probably represents the river Djel which Teppic can control and create the inundation, since both are common pictographic symbols for waves or water.
Page 100 (Penguin Edition) - Teppic's dream about the seven fat and seven thin cows is a reference to the Genesis Chapter 41 in the Bible, where Joseph explained a similar dream, minus the trombone, to the Pharaoh. The seven fat cows were seven years of good harvest and the seven thin ones were seven years of famine, which Egypt avoided by following Joseph's advice to store 1/5th of the harvest during the good years to provide food in the bad ones.
Page 100 (Penguin Edition) - "and then there was a man firing arrows at a tortoise". This dream foreshadows Teppic's encounter in Ephebes with the philosophers testing one of Zeno's three motion paradoxes.
Dil and Gern are discussing the death mask sculpture of the late King and don't like the chin. Dil says, "you could put a beard on it. [...] It'd cover a lot of it, would a beard." Most ancient Egyptian statuary of the pharoahs depict them with beards and they wore fake ones as a symbolic reference to the lord of the underworld, Osiris, who was consistently portrayed as have a thick, braided beard extending below the chin. Pharaohs tried to emulate his appearance in order to depict themselves as incarnations of the gods in mortal form and their death masks would have displayed them in order to show respect for Osiris - after all, it was to his realm they were heading.
Page 103 (Penguin Edition) - "you just needed a bloody great heap of log rollers and 20 years". This is a reference to the now outdated view that the blocks of limestone used to build the pyramids were moved on rollers dragged by huge numbers of slaves. More recent studies have shown that they were moved on sleds and that the sand in front of the sleds was wetted to dramatically reduce the friction of the pull. Tests have confirmed that blocks could be pulled up a 20 degree slope ramp with this method with half as many people pulling as would be needed over dry sand. See also reference for Page 110.
Page 105 (Penguin Edition) - "You make the blocks fly. [...] Betray trade craft secrets [...] By means of secret signs and sigils" As a pyramid builder, Ptaclusp would be a stone mason, the craft guild that led to the secret society, the Masons.
Page 105 (Penguin Edition) - "All things are defined by names. Change the name, and you change the thing."
It has been suggested that Pratchett took his inspiration for this line from Ursula Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea, but this is a very ancient concept in magic and 'primitive' religions. People bearing the same name as the deceased often change their names for fear of the dead person's ghost. James George Frazer's The Golden Bough covers this concept in detail.
Page 105 (Penguin Edition) - 'paracosmically' A paracosm is a detailed imaginary world, especially one created by a child.
Page 107 (Penguin Edition) - "[...] I am a stranger in a familiar land."
The phrase "stranger in a strange land" originates from the Bible, Exodus 2:22, "And she bare [Moses] a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land." In Exodus, the "strange land" was Egypt, so Pratchett puts a twist on the phrase here as Djelibeybi is a familiar land to Teppic as he grew up there, but he is a stranger to it having lived in Ankh Morpork while at school. Robert Heinlein used the phrase as the title of his 60s cult science fiction book.
Page 107 (Penguin Edition) - Dios says, "It will soon be time for the Ceremony of the Third Hour". Many religions divide their day up into hours for particular events; usually prayer. In the Muslim faith there are 5 times a day when devotees must pray. In Christianity, the third hour is one of the "Little Hours". The purpose of the "Little Hours", Terce, Sext, and None or three, six and nine respectively is to provide a brief respite from the day's activities and an opportunity for prayer. This time of day is associated with the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost ("seeing it is but the third hour of the day" (Acts 2:15).
Page 108 (Penguin Edition) - Dios says to Teppic, "I am a priest sire. [...] And the servants have special dispensation". Dispensationalism is a religious interpretive system for the Bible. It considers biblical history as divided by God into dispensations, defined periods or ages to which God has allotted distinctive administrative principles. According to dispensationalism, each age of God's plan is thus administered in a certain way, and humanity is held responsible as a steward during that time. "Special dispensation" means being given permission by the church to do something that is not normally permitted (in this case - to touch the king).
Page 108 (Penguin Edition) - After Teppic shakes hands with the mason,requiring that the hand be removed for touching the king, Teppic insists that the man be given a pension to which Dios replies, "a golden handshake". This is one of Pratchett's very obvious plays on words since a "golden handshake" is a term for a byout or pension when leaving a company's service and the handshake that that cost the mason his hand is providing him with a pension of gold.
Page 108 (Penguin Edition) - Pratchett follows this play on words with the very obvious pun about finding the mason work in the castle when Dios says "I will see if we are currently shorthanded in any department". Clearly the mason is literally 'short handed' since he is missing one hand.
Page 109 (Penguin Edition) - "Dunnikindiver: a builder and cleaner of cesspits". The word is of English origin, 'dunny' is British slang for a privy or open cesspit and 'kin' is the diminutive - a little privy.
Page 110 (Penguin Edition) - As the pyramid blocks levitate from quarry to building site and assemble into a pyramid, Ptaclusp remarks, "One day people will wonder how we did it." To which IIb replies, "All that business with the log rollers and whips is old hat. You can throw them away." Western modern man has rationalized the ability of older civilizations to accomplish feats which 'modern man' would find extremely difficult in terms that they can explain. The statues at Easter Island and the pyramids were said to have been rolled on logs to their sites, even though there was no supporting evidence for these theories. It wasn't until recent years that archaeologists began to "think outside the box" and realized that the former were 'walked' and the latter slid on wet sand to their respective sites. The most ridiculous example of this inability to accept that older "primitive" civilizations had skills beyond our ken is Erik von Daniken's theory esposed in Chariots of the Gods that space men made many of the early monuments such as the Nazca lines in Peru. Pratchett pokes fun at this theory in the Hogfather as well. See reference for page 103.
Page 112 (Penguin Edition) - '"What are you telling me now?" he demanded in a camel whisper.' This is an example of a classic bad Pratchett pun which he explains in the footnote. Pratchett often restates the obvious with his puns and just as often leaves other more difficult and obscure puns for the reader to figure out. In this case camels and horses are both transportation animals but only the former practical in the desert and hoarse and horse are homonyms.
Page 113 (Penguin Edition) - "An overwhelming sensation of reja vu" which Pratchett explains in the footnotes means "I am going to be here again." Pratchett is making an obvious play on 'deja vu', the French term which literally means, "already seen", an overwhelming sense of familiarity with something that shouldn't be familiar at all - the feeling that you have lived through the experience before. The English language has also appropriated, to a much less well known extent, the French terms "Jamais vu", meaning never seen before which is the phenomenon of experiencing a situation that one recognizes in some fashion, but that nonetheless seems novel and unfamiliar, as well as "presque vu", meaning "almost seen" - the sensation of being on the brink of an epiphany. 'Reja vu' plays on these terms and is probably a combination of the prefix "re" and 'deja vu' given Pratchett's definition. "Re" originally occurred in loanwords from Latin, used with the meaning “again” or “again and again” to indicate repetition, or with the meaning “back” or “backward” to indicate withdrawal or backward motion: regenerate; refurbish; retype; retrace; revert. Ptaclusp adds to this concept when he develops the idea of using time loops to create a multiple workforce to complete his projects ahead of schedule when he says (page 114) "I'm remembering an idea I'm going to have."
Page 115 (Penguin Edition) - "'Doppelgangs,' he said."
This is a pun on the German word 'doppelgänger', (meaning literally 'double goer') which has entered the English language and is used to describe an apparition or alternate being that is one's double. In English it usually has sinister overtones.
Page 121 (Penguin Edition) - The scene where Teppic is dispensing justice to his subjects when they are brought before him resonates with the judgement of Solomon from the Bible (1 Kings 3:16-28 NKJV) and also with the Biblical prohibition of "coveting thy neighbour's ox"but it also has roots in the British manorial system where the local lord of the manor (in this case the king) was the magistrate. However the scene perverts Teppic's attempt to dispense wisdom and real justice by dividing the ox equally when Dios 'reinterprets' Teppic's words to give the whole cow to the priests and none to the claimants - Pratchett's sly comment on established religion.
Page 131(Penguin Edition) - "The women of my family have served under the kings for centuries". One of Pratchett's many puns since handmaidens serve under the kings by being their servants and during the sex act underneath the king as their concubines.
Page 131(Penguin Edition) -
Ptraci says, "I don't know whether you've ever seen a book. It's called The Shuttered - "
"- Palace", said Pteppic automatically.
"I thought a gentleman like you would know about it," said Ptraci nudging him.
The Shuttered Palace is a sex manual like Roundworld's Kamasutra and The Perfumed Garden for the Soul's Recreation, a 16th-century Arabic work by Sheikh Nefzaoui. The fact that Ptraci nudges Teppic, makes this even more obvious - a clear reference to the British lexicon of using "nudge, nudge" and "wink, wink" to imply sexual innuendo. The most well know example is of course Monty Python's "Nudge, Nudge, Wink, Wink" sketch.
Page 133 (Penguin Edition) - "Kkkkkkkkkkkhhheeeee [...] ...ops" The sound accompanying the pyramid flares phonetically spells 'Cheops'.
Page 136 (Penguin Edition) - "High priests [...] ... no sooner do they get the funny hat than they're issuing strange orders, eg., princesses tied to rocks for itinerant sea monsters and throwing little babies into the sea." This is a reference to the Greek legend of Andromeda in whichi Cassiope offended the Nereids by boasting that Andromeda was more beautiful than they, so in revenge Poseidon sent a sea monster to devastate Cepheus' kingdom. Since only Andromeda's sacrifice would appease the gods, she was chained to a rock and left to be devoured by the monster. There are legends involving infanticide by drowning the baby in the sea in cultures from the Inuit, to Hawaii, to the Norse and the classics as well as tales involving babies (like Moses) being cast into the water and surviving to become a 'hero' of some sort.
Page 136 (Penguin Edition) - Pratchett follows this line up with "This is gross slander. Throughout the history of the Disc, most priests have been serious, pious, conscientious men who have done their best to interpret the wishes of the gods, sometimes disemboweling or flaying alive hundreds of people in a day in order to make sure they are getting it absolutely right." This is another of Pratchett's shots at the cruelty of established religions and rulers of all sorts towards 'non-believers' or rival sects. In 303 AD, the Christian Saint Elmo was disembowelled by the Romans. The British capital punishment of hanging, drawing (disemboweling) and quartering was used for high treason from the 'dark ages' until the 1700s. Nezahualcoyotl, a 15th-century Acolhuan ruler of Texcoco, a member of the Aztec Triple Alliance (now Mexico) wrote laws requiring disembowellment for homosexuality. In Germany the crime for stripping the bark off a live tree in the common woods was to be sliced open, have your intestines nailed to the tree and then gradually removed and wound around the tree as you were walked around it. In 1941, in Romania during the Bucharest pogroms, 125 Jews were killed and many were disembowelled and tortured. Similarly, flaying, or skinning a person, was used from China, to Assyria, to Western Europe to Meso-America against, Jews, Christians, Muslims, and rival religions and political groups.
Page 137 (Penguin Edition) - The Royal Model Builder, Grinjer is a parody of modellers the world over whose devotion to building such things as detailed model train set ups or accurate military campaigns supersedes all other activities, particularly social ones. His profession finds its Roundworld parallel in the Terracotta warriors found in the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China from 210–209 BCE placed there to protect the emperor in his afterlife.
Page 140 (Penguin Edition) - "It seemed to Teppic that its very weight was deforming the shape of things, stretching the kingdom like a lead ball on a rubber sheet."
This metaphor ties in neatly with the quantum aspects of the Pyramids: rubber sheets distorted by balls are one popular way of visualising Einstein's general theory of relativity. The sheet represents the space-time-continuum, and the balls are bits of mass (like suns and planets). The balls press down and deform the space around them (gravity). When objects try to move across the rubber sheet, they are attracted into the dimples in the sheet (the gravitational field of the object making the dimple) and even the path of light which tries to travel in a straight line, is deflected by these dimples. If the dimple is deep enough, the moving object or light is drawn into and absorbed by the object in the dimple - a black hole.
Page 141 (Penguin Edition) - "It's the wossname, the boundary effect" The boundary effect is a sound reflection effect due to room modes ( standing waves) which accumulates at walls. Sound wave reflections appear to make the localized sound level increase as all of the room modes terminate at the boundary (wall).
Page 141 (Penguin Edition) - "It's bound to be all right when we get the capstone on" the pyramid builder managed eventually, "Once its flaring properly, no problem. Er."
Pratchett uses the language of oil well drilling throughout the novel to describe the pyramids and their construction. The well cap is like a capstone; it covers the top of the drill pipe and controls the flow of the oil from below, equalizing pressures, etc. The capstone on the pyramid in Discworld does the same thing - controlling the energy flow from the pyramid. Oil wells were known by their signature flame or flare illuminating the night sky just as Djelibeybi's pyramids flare off and light up the desert. Finally, at the end Teppic caps the giant pyramid and seals it returning Delibeybi to 'normal' just like capping an oil well permanently seals it after a blow out.
Page 142 (Penguin Edition) - "No women on the site, my lord," said Ptaclusp. "Very bad luck."
In the seafaring trade, women were traditionally considered to be bad luck on board a ship - their presence supposedly would anger the sea gods. More practically a woman's presence on a long voyage within a male crew would cause distraction, rivalry and jealousy. An unfocused crew was a danger to the ship. Women often disguised themselves as males to work on board.
Page 143 (Penguin Edition) -"We passed algebra last week,"" said a third IIa. "It's calculus now. I've had to loop myself four times ito work on it, and there's three of me working on" - he glanced at his brothers - "quantum accountancy."
Calculus, originally called infinitesimal calculus or "the calculus of infinitesimals", is the mathematical study of continuous change, in the same way that geometry is the study of shape and algebra is the study of generalizations of arithmetic operations. Quantum calculus is calculus without limits. It describes advanced properties of nature on an atomic scale.
Page 143 (Penguin Edition) - "Rthur, the fresco painter" - obviously pronounced "Arthur". HIs claim to fame is that all the kings and queens look identical and beautiful which explains his longevity. His name is a play on the kind of affectations used in spelling such things as"Toys R Us" or "4nic8" or "inXS". Pratchett uses the "Toys R Us" play on words in his novel Hogfather as well.
Page 144 (Penguin Edition) - "They say they did it on Tuesday. On account of how time is fractal in nature".
Fractals, first named by mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot in 1975, are special mathematical sets of numbers that display similarity through the full range of scale — i.e., they look the same no matter how big or how small they are. Another characteristic of fractals is that they exhibit great complexity driven by simplicity — some of the most complicated and beautiful fractals can be created with an equation populated with just a handful of terms. Time is not fractal in nature (at least in Roundworld).
Page 144 (Penguin Edition) - Ptaclusp IIa says, "How many men have stopped drinking themselves stupid at age 20 to save a stranger (an older version of themselves) from dying of liver failure at forty." This example and the other scenarios described by Ptaclusp where one man is having an affair with his own wife while another version of himself is jealous, where another man stays home while he sends his alternate self out to work are all variations on the time travel paradoxes, the causal loop and the consistency paradox to name two.
Page 146 (Penguin Edition) - ""there's going to be a band [...] And speeches and a meat tea afterwards"
For all those readers not from Britain, a meat tea is high tea (an afternoon meal) which includes meat.
Page 149 (Penguin Edition) - "There was a boat in mid-stream, heading back from the far bank and the necropolis. There was no mistaking the figure at the oars [...] there was always a breathless feel about it". This and the reference to the river side opposite the necropolis as the living side are more examples of foreshadowing regarding Dios's state.
Page 149 (Penguin Edition) - King Teppicymon XXVII, says that Ptraci "Never had much of a sense of direction." [...] "It's a family trait, you know." [...] "Lucky for you that you take after your mother..." This foreshadows that Ptraci is not just any handmaiden but is a Teppic's half-sister which Teppicymon XXVII, reveals on the following page.
Page 151 (Penguin Edition) - "'She can play the dulcimer,' said the ghost of Teppicymon XXVII, apropos of nothing much. ' Not very well, mind you. She's up to page five of 'Little Pieces for Tiny Fingers.''"
'"This is a reference to the lines Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem Kubla Khan. "It was an Abyssinian maid, And on her dulcimer she played." Pratchett uses this reference in Sourcery as well. In Discworld, Little Pieces for Tiny Fingers is a book of dulcimer music for beginners. Goblins Picnic is one of the songs in this book. Pratchett has taken the name from Roundworld beginner books for teaching music to children such as J Sutcliffe Smith's Pieces with Words and Introductory Exercises for Tiny Fingers or Gladys V Gilbert's Seven Little Pieces.
Page 153- 154 (Penguin Edition) -"Can you hear something?" said IIb [...] "... you mean the fabric of time and space being put through the wringer?" said IIa.
The fabric of space-time is a conceptual model combining the three dimensions of space with the fourth dimension of time. Physicist Albert Einstein helped develop the idea of space-time as part of his theory of relativity. According to the best of current physical theories, space-time explains the unusual relativistic effects that arise from traveling near the speed of light as well as the motion of massive objects in the universe. It is therefore not surprising that lines like, 'the fabric of time and space was torn asunder' are common ones throughout science fiction writing, good and bad.
Page 161 (Penguin Edition) - "The fact is that camels are far more intelligent than dolphins" Pratchett is playing with the common idea that dolphins are an intelligent species, perhaps our equal. While camels are very smart they do not appear to be as smart as chimps, humans or dolphins, at least in Roundworld. This is also likely a reference to Douglas Adams' "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy which posits that dolphins are more intelligent than humans when they leave Earth before it is bulldozed for a hyperspace bypass, saying "So long and thanks for all the fish. " Pratchett was certainly familiar with Douglas Adams' work and refers to it in other novels.
Page 161 (Penguin Edition) - "Let V equal 3. Let Tau equal Chi/4 [...] differential tensor domain with four imaginary spin co-efficients..." this and subsequent equations produced by You Bastard are mathematical nonsense even though made up of impressive sounding components. Tensors are of considerable use in continuum mechanics and are used in the theories of nonlinear elasticity and plasticity. Spin coeffient formalism or Newman-Penrose formalism is used in general relativity in regard to 4 - dimensional space-time. Tau is the 19th letter of the Greek alphabet and Chi is the 22nd. Both are used in mathematics.
Page 162 (Penguin Edition) - You Bastard continues his mathematical formula with ":Thus in hypersyllogistic notation" A syllogism is a form of reasoning in which a conclusion is drawn (whether validly or not) from two given or assumed propositions (premises), each of which shares a term with the conclusion, and shares a common or middle term not present in the conclusion (e.g., all dogs are animals; all animals have four legs; therefore all dogs have four legs). D.Mourdoukhay-Boltovskoy introduced a hypersillogistic which according to him related to the traditional syllogistic as a four-dimensional space relates to the three-dimensional space but he never expanded enough on it to make his idea clear. Given that You Bastard is contemplating space-time with the pyramid about to change Djelibeybi's existence, Pratchett was likely thinking of this even though the actual formula is meaningless.
Page 163 (Penguin Edition) - "Camels apparently have more knees than any other creature" This is a common misconception. In fact, they do not have two knees on each leg, the lower 'knee' is in fact what we would call the wrist. It is simply in the approximate position of where one would expect the knee to be. All this helps the camel to kneel down easily.
Page 165 (Penguin Edition) - "...Phi * 1700[u/v]. Lateral e/v. Equals a tranche of seven to twelve..." As before, while this looks like a very impressive mathematical formula, Pratchett said, "we just bunged in loads of gibberish maths and among the symbols was, yes, '*'." "Tranche" is a French word meaning "slice" or "portion." In the world of investing, it is used to describe a security that can be split up into smaller pieces and subsequently sold to investors.
Page 165 (Penguin Edition) - "[...] distilling the testicles of a small tree-dwelling species of bear with the vomit of a whale, [...]"
Animal substances are extensively used as fixatives in perfume. Examples include musk (from deer-testicles; 'musk' is Sanskrit for 'scrotum'), ambergris (from the digestive system of whales), civet (from the anal secretions of an Asian cat-like animal), hyraceum (fossilized urine and feces from the Cape Hyrax and castorium (from a beaver's perineal gland - Castor means beaver).
Page 167 (Penguin Edition) - "Everyone knows that the stars are on the body of the goddess Nept who arches her body....." Nept is clearly the Queen of Heaven in the Djelibeybi pantheon. Queen of Heaven was a title given to a number of ancient sky goddesses worshipped throughout the ancient Mediterranean and Near East during ancient times. Goddesses known to have been referred to by the title include Inanna, Anat, Isis, Ishtar, Astarte, and possibly Asherah. In Greco-Roman times, Hera and Juno bore this title. Pratchett doesn't chose names at random so Nept might be a reference to Neptune, God of the sea who is the converse of the Celestial gods. Alternately this could be a very subtle pun, for which Pratchett is justly famous, of the stars being 'in' Nept (intept). We will never know for sure.
Page 168 (Penguin Edition) - "Rising up the sky, very slowly, was a great flaming ball. And it was being pushed by a dung beetle bigger than worlds." The Egyptians did in fact believe that the sun was rolled across the sky by Khepri, the sun god who had the face of a giant scarab or dung beetle.
Page 172 (Penguin Edition) - Djelibeybi vanishes as the world closes up around it and leaves it as just a crack. It becomes a lost world which resonates with many novels in Roundworld fiction. The "lost world" is a subgenre of the fantasy or science fiction genres that involves the discovery of an unknown world out of time and/or place. It began as a subgenre of the late-Victorian adventure romance and remains popular into the 21st century. The genre arose during an era when the fascinating remnants of lost civilizations around the world were being discovered, such as the tombs of Egypt's Valley of the Kings, the semi-mythical stronghold of Troy, the jungle-shrouded pyramids of the Maya, and the cities and palaces of the empire of Assyria. Notable examples of the genre include the first such novel, H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines and James Hilton's Lost Horizon.
Page 175 (Penguin Edition) - Teppic says, "Listen you can't talk to me like that, I'm a king. [...] Where I come from it rains every day." To which Ptraci responds, "Who reigns every day?" This is another of Pratchett's very obvious plays on words - the homonyms 'rain' and 'reign' being confused by Ptraci who has never seen 'rain' coming as she does from a desert civilization.
Page 176 (Penguin Edition) - "If I hacked the rocks away, No, he thought, that's silly. It's a line. You can't get into a line. A line has no thickness. Well know fact of geometry." This sequence draws comparison to Edwin Abbott Abbott's novella Flatland which takes place in a two dimensional world and was a satirical examination of the hierarchy of Victorian culture, but nowadays is more well known for its examination of dimensions. The population of Djelibeybi still exist and know they exist but to the outside world they are nothing more than a line in the sand.
Page 176 (Penguin Edition) - "For a second he wondered how she knew the Catharti Death Grip".
The adjective cathartic entered English from the Greek word kathairein, meaning “to cleanse or purge physically but it soon also came to mean an emotional release and spiritual cleansing. The term is often applied to movies or novels that make you cry. The Catharti Death Grip would likely do this.
Page 176 (Penguin Edition) - "The Congress of the Fox and Persimmon" is another sex act from the Shuttered Palace but fortunately Ptraci gives not explanation of how it is accomplished.
Page 177 (Penguin Edition) - "'I've got as far as "Goblins Picnic" in Book I.'" This is a reference to the children's song called 'Teddy Bears' Picnic'; melody by American composer John Walter Bratton, written in 1907 and lyrics added by Irish songwriter Jimmy Kennedy in 1932.
Page 177 (Penguin Edition) - "I mean it'll be called the Lost Kingdom". This is another reference to novels in the "Lost World" sub-genre of Science Fiction. It resonates with both of the novels mentioned in the notes for page 176, Lost Horizon and King Solomon's Mines.
Page 178 (Penguin Edition) - Ptraci says, "You've killed a lot of people, I expect? [...] More than a hundred? [...] Well less than fifty? [...] Less than twenty then? Less than ten?" To which Teppic replies "It would be best to think of a number between zero and ten." This conversation follows the pattern of new sex partners asking each other about their previous relationships, in particular where the man wants to claim some sexual prowess and experience but has none so doesn't want to admit it or when the woman doesn't want to appear to have slept with too many partners and thus seem 'easy'. Coming when there is some sexual tension between the two, the reader would expect Teppic to be asking these questions of the "handmaiden" so Pratchett's approach puts a twist on the norm which he makes very clear when Teppic asks the same questions of Ptraci in regard to her own profession in the followup.
Page 178 (Penguin Edition) - "All this senate..." he said. "Congress," Ptraci corrected. Teppic reveals how inexperienced he actually is with women when he confuses the two words 'senate' and 'congress'. Both can mean governing bodies but only one 'congress' has multiple meanings because of its definition as 'the act of coming together or meeting' which leaves it open to mean 'coitus'- another Pratchett play on words. The United States Congress consists of two legislative bodies, the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Page 180 (Penguin Edition) - "Lack of fingers was another big spur to the development of camel intellect. Human mathematical development had always been held back by everone's instinctive tendency, when faced with something really complex in the way of triform polynomials or parametric differentials, to count fingers." In fact, base 10 (the decimal system), which is the basis for standard mathematical and arithmetical calculations did develop because humans have 10 fingers. The decimal system is shown in Ancient Egyptian hieroglypics dating back to 3000 BC and moved from Egypt to ancient Greece and then Rome, both of which used base 5 as well ( the fingers on one hand). Some other civilizations used different number bases. For example, the Mayans used base-20, likely initially from counting both fingers and toes. The Yuki language of California uses base-8 (octal), counting the spaces between fingers rather than the digits. When modern computing was created it used base 2 (0, 1) which is equal to a circuit either being 'on' or 'off' or else base 16, the hexidecimal system - 2X2X2X2 or (22)2. No human would be working out triform polynomials or parametric differentials on their fingers and toes however.
Page 180 (Penguin Edition) - "They have a new Tyrant every five years. [...] I think they ee-lect him." "Is that something they do to tomcats and bulls and things? [...] "I think it's called a mocracy" Pratchett is clearly poking fun at democracy with all its foibles here. 'Democracy' is reduced to 'mock racy'. And some may consider that once a politician becomes the ruler/leader s/he is in effect neutered in his or her ablity to actually accomplish anything of note by the bureaucracy of government.
Page 180 (Penguin Edition) - "One man, one -" The full quote is "one man, one vote" has been the rallying cry used by advocates of political equality through various electoral reforms such as universal suffrage, proportional representation, or the elimination of plural voting, malapportionment, or gerrymandering. The phrase is usually attributed to the British trade unionist George Howell who used the phrase "one man, one vote" in political pamphlets in 1880.
Page 181 (Penguin Edition) - "Everyone has - [...] the vet. Except for women of course. And children. And criminals. And slaves. And stupid people. And people of foreign extraction." Teppic of course means the 'vote' and the list of people he excludes from voting is representative of the various groups of people that were disenfranchised at various stages of the democratic process. Pratchett among others probably wishes that 'stupid people' were disenfranchised but this has not been the case.
Page 181 (Penguin Edition) - "The sun wasn't just a ball of flaming dung pushed across the sky by a giant beetle. It was also a boat. It depended on how you looked at it."
This is a reference to the other Egyptian myth regarding the sun god Ra riding across the sky in Atet, his solar barge. Atet was also known as the Mandjet the Boat of Millions of Years), and, during the night, as the Mesektet.
Ra—variously conflated with other solar gods such as Amun and Hathor—was said to travel through the sky on the barge, providing light to the world. Each twelfth of his journey formed one of the twelve Egyptian hours of the day, each overseen by a protective deity. Ra then rode the Atet through the underworld with each hour of the night considered a gate overseen by twelve more protective dieties. Passing through all of these while fending off various destructive monsters, Ra reappeared each day on the eastern horizon.
Page 206 (Penguin Edition) - "'Symposium' meant a knife-and-fork tea." Etymologically, a symposium is indeed a "get-together for a drink". Since the Greeks believed in lubricating intellectual discussion with drink, the term eventually came to be used for a meeting which combined elements of partying and intellectual interchange. The symposium in question is more like Lewis Carroll's Mad Hatter's Tea Party and bears a striking resemblance to many business luncheons where little business is discussed while much wine and food is drunk and eaten with the tab being picked up by the taxpayer.
[p. 204] "[...] ships called the Marie Celeste, [...]"
The Marie Celeste left port in 1872 with a full crew, but was later found (by the crew of the Dei Gratia), abandoned on the open sea, with no crew, the single lifeboat missing, and half-eaten meals in the crew's mess. It was later discovered that captain Morehouse of the Dei Gratia had dined with the captain of the Celeste the night before she sailed, and Morehouse and his crew were eventually tried for murder, but acquitted because there was no hard evidence. The missing crewmen were never found. Pratchett also uses the Marie Celeste reference in the novel The Last Hero.
- [p. 205] "And one of them had reputedly turned himself into a golden shower in pursuit of his intended." This line is a double entendre. Firstly, according to Greek mythology the beautiful Danaë had been locked away in a dungeon by her father (King Acrisius of Argos) because a prophecy had foretold that his grandson would slay him. But Zeus, King of the Gods, came upon Danaë in a shower of gold, and fathered Perseus upon her. But secondly there is a more risque meaning in that a golden shower is the unusual sexual practice of urinating on your partner.
- [p. 221] "[...] every camel knew what two bricks added up to."
In jokes, the castration (or, as the punchline dictates, speeding up) of camels is achieved by taking two bricks and smashing the animal's testicles between them.
Page 245 (Penguin Edition) - The riddle of the Sphinx is a classic Greek legend. "What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three in the evening?" The Greek hero Oedipus correctly answered, "Man," causing the Sphinx's death. Here Pratchett nicely deconstructs and pokes fun at the riddle and its conceits in a similar fashion to the way Douglas Adam's philosophers argue about "life the universe and everything" or that in Monty Python's various philosopher sketches.
Page 261 (Penguin Edition) - "'Go, tell the Ephebians --' he began."
This is a paraphrase of "Go tell the Spartans", which is the beginning of the memorial for the Spartan soldiers who got massacred by the Persians at Thermopylae as a result of Greek treachery. The full quote is given by Simonides (5th century BC) as:
"Go, tell the Spartans, thou who passest by,
That here obedient to their laws we lie"
Page 282 (Penguin Edition) - "You're going to have to learn a bit of will power if you are going to stay in the horse soldiers, boy". The Horse Soldiers was a 1959 American Civil War movie starring John Wayne and refers to the cavalry. In Pyramids, the horse soldiers are not mounted troops but are stationed inside a Trojan style horse waiting to be carried back to the enemy towns.
Page 284 (Penguin Edition) - "'You said it worked for Queen wossname, Ram-Jam-Hurrah, or whoever,' said Chidder." The legend was that in order to gain an audience with Julius Caesar, Cleopatra had herself rolled inside an oriental carpet to avoid detection by his guards. Ram Jam were a late 1970s American rock band that popularized the old Leadbelly song Black Betty. Whether Pratchett was thinking of them when he came up with Ram-Jam-Hurrah is unknown.