I’ve been thinking about Malmutius. About Brutus and the Trojans. I love this city I’ve adopted, but I sometimes forget the actual history of the place. This city is OLD. Long before Londinium, thousands of years before even Lud’s Dun and Lud’s Gate, 1200 years before the Nazarene prophet died in Jerusalem and kicked off a modern era there was a bitter war in Turkey between the two great superpowers Greece and Troy. It’s undeniable that it happened and that it was huge and that it changed the world forever. It is so far removed in time that it’s hard to think of it as anything but a story in this world where people find it convenient even to deny things in living memory like the holocaust. But unlike much from that distant era when the Gods still walked the earth, there’s enough to satisfy everybody who seeks it that Troy stood and that Troy fell to the Greeks.
Maybe there was a horse. Maybe there wasn’t. But one of the greatest ancient cities was deliberately turned to just a memory, and Poseidon was angry. Troy was deleted, as Cato later deleted Carthage. The fields were sown with salt. The topless towers of Ilium were burnt, and so efficiently was it done that the location of the ruins was lost for thousands of years. Even as Odysseus got lost on his way back to Ithaca, so from the other side went Aeneas, the wandering Trojan, on his own epic voyage. His brood were citymakers, as was he. Rome came out of his loins via Alba Longa and all that mess with Carthage. And one of his sons, Brutus, went wandering through Gaul. He founded Tours before forging North and crossing the channel. Eventually he settled in what would eventually become Lud’s Dun. He made his New Troy (Troy Novant) here on this island he had named for himself – The seat of what would become the Great Brutian civilisation.
Many generations down to Lud and beyond, his Brutish kin held this fortress with the mound where the Tower of London stands today. Kings and centres shifted around and borders were drawn and redrawn by warring tribes, and by ambitious warlords. Writing was scarce and conquest disrupts oral traditions, so we know next to nothing of these hundreds and hundreds of years of life before the Romans who brought a period of chronicle before another age of dark descended as they all suddenly pulled out and left the doors swinging. But we know a bit.
In this dark time – hundreds of years after Brutus – Malmutius, who could claim direct ancestry to Aeneas, laid down laws in triad in the druidic tradition. Memory works best in threes. They knew all about memory, and how to exercise that muscle, and hold things in. Universal writing took as much as it gave. But these laws were kept because they were written. We might have had a lot more if so much hadn’t been burnt in Henry’s divorce. But we have these.
By our standards, many of the Malmutian laws made sense. Universal suffrage. Hospitality to strangers. Sanctuary. By the same standards, other laws were not so great. Trial by combat and similar Brutian brutalities spring to mind.
When looking for anchors in this city it’s useful for me to remember that there’s still stuff available. Really old stuff, just the way I like it. Westminster and the Isle of Thorns is right by my flat, even if the rivers are held in vast pipes now.
It’s a brisk day’s walk to go from Thorney Island to The Tower. If the weather is good I might get my boots on, strike out tomorrow and call it exercise.