Caste of Mariners
Here are relevant references from the Books where the Caste of Mariners is mentioned.
I make no pronouncements on these matters, but report them as I find them.
Arrive at your own conclusions.
I wish you well,
But, too, should not each caste concern itself with its own business, the metal worker with metals, the peasant with the soil, the mariner with the sea, and so on?
Swordsmen of Gor Book 29 Page 2
The stranger was a large, spare man, with roughened hands, perhaps hardened from the oar, or from hauling on lines. He was clad in little more than rags. He did have a dirty mariner's cap. I did not think it unlikely he had indeed ventured upon Thassa.
Mariners of Gor Book 30 Page 3
With the back of her right hand she rubbed her eyes, removing a residue of sleep. Clearly she was uneasy, and did not understand the meaning of her summons, this late, the tavern muchly empty, the group gathered about the small table, the stranger, in rags and mariner's cap, before whom she knelt. Mariners of Gor Book 30 Page 6
There, on the stem castle, behind its aft rail, a small figure, bent and twisted, stood, in cloak and mariner's cap, looking to windward, to the north. Mariners of Gor Book 30 Page 112
As I suppose I have made clear, I am not by caste of the Mariners. It is one thing to draw an oar, and do one thing or another about a ship, even to be of its fighting complement, and quite another to read the weather, and water, and the stars, to plot courses, to keep a steady helm in a hard sea, to manage lines and rigging, and such.
Mariners of Gor Book 30 Pages 189 - 190
Thassa, subtle and minacious, welcoming and threatening, benignant and perilous, restless, sparkling, and dangerous, green, vast, intriguing, beckoning Thassa. It is easy to see how she calls to men, she is so alluring and beautiful, and it is easy, as well, to see how, with her might and whims, her moods and power, she may inspire fear in the stoutest of hearts. Be warned, for the wine of Thassa is a heady wine. She may send you gentle winds and shelter you in her great arms, bearing you up, or should she please, break you and draw you down, destroying you, to mysterious, unsounded deeps. In her cups you may find many things, the unalienable riches of moonlight on water, her whispering in long nights, against the hull, her unforgettable glory in the morning, the brightness of her noontide, the transformations of her sunset and dusk, her access to far shores, the sublime darkness of her anger, the lashing and howling of her winds, the force and authority of her waves, like pitching mountains. She is the love of the Caste of Mariners. She is a heady wine. Her name is Thassa.
Mariners of Gor Book 30 Page 191
The Sea Sleen is a small tavern, not particularly well-known, even in Brundisium. Those near the southern piers, however, are likely to be aware of it. It was to this tavern the stranger, haggard, destitute, in his rags, in his soiled mariner's cap, had come, and regaled us with a story, however far-fetched.
Mariners of Gor Book 30 Page 463
Coasters and long ships will commonly beach at night, the crew cooking and sleeping ashore. Indeed, most Gorean mariners, when practical, like to keep in sight of land. The moods of Thassa are capricious, and the might of her winds and waves prodigious.
Smugglers of Gor Book 32 Page 81
A mariner stood at the bow amidships, and stern, each with his harbor pole. Four mariners stood ready to hoist the small yard, with the now-folded sail. Oars were still inboard. The two helmsmen were at their posts.
Smugglers of Gor Book 32 Page 85
Except on a round ship and even on many of those, mariners do not welcome the presence of a free woman. Such, it is said, sow discord. Such are to be respected, but, in time, men grow hungry. It is a strain, even on a well-trained sleen, to circle meat it is forbidden to touch. The matter worsens, of course, if the free woman insists on the privileges of the deck, or, say, if she is careless of how she stands when the wind whips her robes, and matters may become intolerable indeed should she delight herself with certain pleasures not unknown to occasionally appertain to her sex, usually harmlessly, flirting with, or teasing, taunting, and tormenting men, confident in the inviolability of her freedom, perhaps in the possession of a shared Home Stone, and such. It is one thing, of course, to engage in such games in a theater, a street or plaza, and quite another on a ship at sea, far from taverns, the relief of paga girls, and such. More than one woman began a voyage free and concluded it being sold in a distant port. Sometimes a round ship will carry slaves for the men, ship slaves. These are at the pleasure of the crew. The long ships, of course, the armed war knives of the sea, seldom depart with slaves aboard, though they may return with them.
Smugglers of Gor Book 32 Page 106
"There are over a hundred men on board," I said, "not counting mariners, with their officers.
Smugglers of Gor Book 32 Page 107
I looked about myself, at the men about, the workers, several of them, a mercenary or two, a mariner in his brimless cap.
Smugglers of Gor Book 32 Page 190
"The wind is rising," I said. "I think the mariners are right. There is to be a storm."
Smugglers of Gor Book 32 Page 197
Many mariners, too, incidentally, do not read, despite the fact that many are of fine mind, and are the masters of much lore and remarkable skills. It is enough, they say, when one can read the currents, the clouds, the winds, the skies, and the stars. The barks to which they trust their lives, the skies, even Thassa herself, they note, do not read.
Smugglers of Gor Book 32 Page 206
But eyes had not yet been painted on her bow. How then could she see her way? But what if eyes were not to be permitted to her, for some reason? Might not mariners be uneasy to crew a ship forbidden to see her way?
Smugglers of Gor Book 32 Page 252
None of them had the caps common with mariners, so I supposed they must have come from the south, and then crossed the river, perhaps having come from as far away as the basin of the Laurius.
Smugglers of Gor Book 32 Page 323
I did see one or two men with the beast, behind it, in mariner's caps.
Smugglers of Gor Book 32 Page 416
"I am pleased the beast is gone," said the leader of the mariners. "It is a fearful thing to be in its vicinity. I long for the deck of the ship."
Smugglers of Gor Book 32 Page 421
"Commander!" said a mariner, having descended the gangplank, which few now climbed, and pattered toward me, his sandals slapping on the warm, broad planks of the wharf.
"We must cast off! Hurry! Hurry!"
Rebels of Gor Book 33 Page 638
I had no sooner crossed it than the mariners drew it inboard.
The ropes were cast off from the mooring cleats by docksmen, and were being drawn aboard the River Dragon by mariners.
Rebels of Gor Book 33 Page 642
I did not think that the patrons of such a market, many of them mariners, artisans, and dock workers, would be burdened with heavy purses.
Quarry of Gor Book 35 Page 20
"The venue is obscure," she said. "Perhaps the time and place are convenient for a certain clientele," I said, "dock workers, mariners, warehouse men, and such."
Quarry of Gor Book 35 Page 53
The officer turned about. He cupped his hands. To the helmsmen he called, "Come about!" To the mariners he called, "In sail, down yard." To the benches he called, "Oars in!" The hortator put down his mallets. The oars were drawn inboard with their rattle of wood.
Quarry of Gor Book 35 Page 107
Our men cheered and flung their mariner's caps into the air.
Quarry of Gor Book 35 Page 112
"Shall we pick up survivors, Captain?" asked a mariner, an oarsman.
Quarry of Gor Book 35 Page 112
The long, slanting yard turned on the mast, and the open, dropped sail, with a snapping of canvas, responded, swelling and tautening, curving, and was filled to the "brim," as the mariners sometimes put it, with the "wine of the wind."
Quarry of Gor Book 35 Page 114
In the tavern merchants may conduct business over a drink; mariners may regale rapt auditors with accounts of fabulous voyages;
Quarry of Gor Book 35 Page 123
I knelt beside the small, low table about which, cross-legged, sat four men, who, from their soft, brimless caps, I took to be mariners.
Quarry of Gor Book 35 Page 192
I would have supposed that such an individual, with such hair, would have sought to conceal its oddity from public view. Surely it would have been simple enough to dye one's hair or even shave one's head. At the very least one might have recourse to a hood or mariner's cap.
Quarry of Gor Book 35 Page 271
A newcomer, one I did not recognize, in the rimless cap common to mariners, had just been admitted to the hall and had been called to the head of the table. I took him to be most likely the captain, or a captain's officer, from the Alexia.
Quarry of Gor Book 35 Page 363
The man wore a short-sleeved jacket of sleen-skin and a mariner's cap of the same material. I took him to be the leader of the small crew.
Quarry of Gor Book 35 Page 397
"I did not sign on to fight," whispered the man. "I am of the mariners, not the scarlet caste."
Quarry of Gor Book 35 Page 399
"I am now captain," said Seremides. "I was once first sword of the Taurentians in Ar. You are unarmed, save for mariner's knives.
Quarry of Gor Book 35 Page 400
"No," he said, "six ships, four larger and two smaller."
This was an unwelcome intelligence, indeed.
"And men," I said. "Far more than oarsmen, than of mariners."
"State his strength, his resources," said Tab.
"Six ships, four larger and two smaller," said Aktis. "And many men, men far beyond oarsmen and mariners, perhaps six hundred."
"Mariners, noble mariners," cried one of the women, extending her hand piteously, "succor, succor!"
The drunken mariner reeled about, goblet in hand. "Fill my goblet!" he cried. "I will tell what I saw!"
"Not again!" moaned a man, nearby, at one of the low, square tables.
"We have heard it!" said another.
"Masters!" wailed the mariner.
"Be off," said a man.
"Go away," said another.
"Cast him out," called a man.
Two of the proprietor's men advanced toward the unsteady figure. I waved the proprietor's men back, and lifted my goblet to the mariner. He stood unsteadily and I had no assurance that he saw clearly. Perhaps he saw more than one of me, and perhaps more than that of the lifted goblet on which his eyes fought to focus.
"Let them cast him into the street," suggested Thurnock.
"He lacks a berth," I said.
"It is easy to see why," said Clitus.
"It is said he was once a captain, that he once had a ship," I said.
"Doubtful," said Clitus. "A copper-tarsk oarsman, at best."
"His name is Sakim," said Thurnock.
The mariner had now stumbled to the table, and I seized his right wrist, to hold it steady, and poured the residue of my goblet into his emptied goblet. "Thank you, Noble Master," he said.
For their apprehension one would require regulars, brought from Cos itself, spearmen, not common oarsmen, not mariners.
Several local families made their living by fishing in the nearby waters, families amongst whom Clitus, master of the trident and net himself, had sought to make friends and cultivate informants. Its wells, too, were known to grateful mariners who would put in for water.
"At first, I did not recognize Master," she said. "The garb? Not of the Merchants? Is he truly of the Mariners, an officer, a helmsman, an oarsman?"
"How do men determine the course?" I asked.
"As mariners," she said, "some by compass, others by the sun and stars."
The fresh, salt smell of Thassa was in the air. Already one could hear voices from the wharves, loading captains, stevedores, berthless mariners at the hiring tables.
There is a superstition shared by many Gorean mariners, that it is unlucky to have a free woman aboard ship, particularly if there is only one.
Gorean mariners, as is often the case with mariners, have a very special sense of their ships. The landsman may think of a ship as an object or artifact, little different, in essence, save in size and purpose, from a cabinet or chair, a wall or flight of stairs. The mariner, on the other hand, who entrusts his life to his ship, commonly views it differently, more deeply and closely, more personally. It braves storms; it protects him from the terrors of the deep. It carries him from port to port. It shelters him and he cares for it. From its decks he sees vast skies and the glory of the sea. Sometimes, small and wondering, he can become for a moment an aspect of immensity. As the ship becomes one with the sea, so he becomes one with the ship. He knows a world the landsman knows not. But beyond such things the Gorean mariner, like many of the mariners of the ancient world of Earth, has a deeper, odder, more mystical view of a ship. It is, for him, in its way, alive. The horseman has his horse, the tarnsman his tarn, the mariner his ship. It is common with Gorean ships to have eyes painted on each side of the bow. Most mariners will not serve on a ship without eyes. How could it see its way? Indeed, the last thing the shipwright does, whether in the arsenal at Port Kar or in a hundred shipyards elsewhere, is to paint eyes on the ship. It is then that it can see. It is then that it comes alive.
"Many mariners, and others, have claimed to see strange things at sea, serpents, monsters, and such," I said.
"Tricks of light, configurations of waves, surfacing sea sleen, tricks of the atmosphere, shapes detected in fog?" said Sakim.
"That sort of thing," I said.
Commonly Gorean mariners stay within sight of land and beach their vessels at night. Few captains and crews care to be at sea in the darkness.
Few unfamiliar with maritime matters realize the seaman's terror of fire at sea. One of a mariner's worst nightmares is to awaken at night to the cry of "Fire!" Fire at sea is quite different from fire on land, say, in a house or village. There is nowhere to run. Flames burn and water drowns. If one is fortunate, one might people a longboat, a small vulnerable craft, with limited water and food, on a wide, lonely sea.
"But still rather nice areas," she said. "There are areas in Jad which even a drunken mariner would fear to frequent. Even guardsmen avoid them."
Seremides twisted in his chair and regarded Iris, who, kneeling to the side, was mending a tunic which had been torn by a grasping mariner. As I may have mentioned, Iris was quite attractive and her neck, of course, was closely, clearly, encircled by the slave band. Had a similar liberty been taken in the case of a free woman, the mariner might have risked impalement.
He was a man of medium height with short, dark hair. His dark beard was short and well trimmed, perhaps too well trimmed for the Sea Sleen. He appeared strong, but his carriage suggested neither the ease nor the subtlety of an armsman. I assumed then it was not likely that he was either of the Scarlet Caste, the Warriors, or the Black Caste, the Assassins. He wore a mariner's garb, with the soft, brimless cap, but it showed little evidence of having been exposed to the wind and salt of Thassa.
"If you cut my throat," said the Cosian mariner, "you will do yourself little good, and me even less good."
"Amidst your cargo," I said, "in your vessel, or in one of your two sister vessels, you brought a free woman here!"
"I trust not," he said. "It is unwise to have a free woman aboard. Who does not know that? They cause dissension."
"Nonsense," I said.
"They raise storms, they bring monsters, tharlarion of the sea, sea serpents."
"And they cause ships to sail off the edge of the world," I said.
"That, too," he said.
I suspected that any Kur who had lived upon, or had visited, or knew of, a steel world would be well aware of the dangers of disease in so confined or limited an environment. It would be something like the mariner's terror of fire at sea. Should a ship burn, or an earth perish, one is without remedy.
It did not seem likely that Decius Albus, nor the two fishing vessels and their crews, would leave coastal waters and risk the perils of Thassa in an attempt to reach Cos directly. Most Gorean mariners, particularly in small ships, will not fare far from the sight of land. Thassa is deep, turbulent, and moody. Her dangers are not limited to twisting currents and sudden storms, but, too, to piracy.
There was then a knock on the door, coded, but sharp and urgent. I, and Thurnock and Clitus, and Aetius, Seremides, and Xenon, had rented quarters in a mariner's inn, Harbor's Rest, near the southern piers of Brundisium.
"The Sea Sleen," I said, "is a moderate, little-known tavern, largely patronized by mariners, and captains. I suspect that Ruffio is now, in such a place, at last, unobtrusively trying to arrange passage for Decius Albus and his party to Cos."
''My party and I have rented quarters near Brundisium's southern piers," I said, "in a mariners' inn, the Harbor's Rest. I have a lovely barbarian slave there, whom I have named Iris. As you are an ill-educated, ignorant slave, you can learn much from her."
He extended his hand and we shook hands, in the sturdiest of fashions, each hand grasping the wrist of the other, as is common amongst Warriors and Mariners.
A number of individuals, other than the mercenaries and my party, were gathered about, curious and attentive, dock workers, loiterers, warehousemen, beggars, accounting scribes, street gamblers, local and foreign mariners, and such.
Gorean mariners, incidentally, are often uneasy with the presence of a free woman aboard ship. They create division and frustration. They create dissension and have sometimes provoked breaches of discipline, even mutinies. Who but a free woman could thrust a torch into straw and then blame it for burning?