The Monster and the Maiden By Roger Zelazny

 A great unrest was among the people, for the time of decision was again at hand.
 The Elders voted upon the candidates and the sacrifice was affirmed over the objections of Ryllik, the oldest.
 "It is wrong to capitulate thus," he argued.
 But they did not answer him, and the young virgin was taken to the grotto of smokes and fed the leaves of drowsiness.
 Ryllik watched with disapproval.
 "It should not be so," he stated. "It is wrong."
 "It has always been so," said the others, "in the spring of the year, and in the fall. It has always been so." And they cast worried glances down the trail to where the sun was pouring morning upon the world.
 The god was already traveling through the great-leafed forest.
 "Let us go now," they said.
 "Did you ever think of staying? Of watching to see what the monster god does?" asked Ryllik bitterly.
 "Enough of your blasphemies! Come along!"
 Ryllik followed them.
 "We grow fewer every year," he said. "One day we shall no longer have any sacrifices left to offer."
 "Then that day we die," said the others.
 "So why prolong it?" he asked. "Let us fight them--now, before we are no more!"
 But the others shook their heads, a summary of that resignation Ryllik had watched grow as the centuries passed. They all respected Ryllik's age, but they did not approve of his thoughts.
 They cast one last look back, just as the sun caught the clanking god upon his gilt-caparisoned mount, his death-lance slung at his side.
 Within the place where the smokes were born the maiden thrashed her tail from side to side, rolling wild eyes beneath her youthful browplates. She sensed the divine presence and began to bellow.
 They turned away and lumbered across the plains.
 As they neared the forest Ryllik paused and raised a scaly forelimb, groping after a thought. Finally, he spoke. "I seem to have memory," said he, "of a time when things were different."

Does over of "the sacrifice was affirmed over the objections of Ryllik" mean in superiority to, as suggested in thefreedictionary?

What does the last paragraph refer to? (I seem to have memory of a time when things were different.)

1 Answer 1


Of the definitions given in your source, in superiority to is closest to what is meant here, but it is not very satisfactory.

Both over in the quotation and superiority in the definition are spatial metaphors, and should not be understood as expressing that the Elders’ decision is “better” than Ryllik’s objections, merely that it overrode those objections and in effect suppressed them (literally, “pushed them down”).

As for Ryllik’s memory of the past, you will have to read the story and see whether Zelazny provides a referent; all we are told is that Ryllik remembers “things” (circumstances, the situation) being different at some time in the past.

  • Sorry, I forgot to mention it's a short story. The exerpt is the whole story.
    – Kinzle B
    Jun 22, 2014 at 14:09
  • @ZhanlongZheng Then it is not explained in the story, and you are challenged to figure it out for yourself. That, however, is Literary Criticism and cannot be addressed here. Jun 22, 2014 at 14:12
  • Always a catch. I'm fond of his short stories and novellas but my major is finance. I didn't take many courses in literature and find it hard to figure out the true meaning. Just one thing I'm not sure: "the sun caught the clanking god upon his gilt-caparisoned mount", does caught mean come upon suddenly?
    – Kinzle B
    Jun 22, 2014 at 14:31
  • @ZhanlongZheng Yes. By the way, you might read up on the legend of St. George, and look at the vast number of images - and compare the legend of Perseus ... Jun 22, 2014 at 14:38
  • things = life = reality. Similar to: I remember when things were different, when life was different. In general, "things" can refer to the past in general, which is why we do not really even need a context to understand this statement. We could understand the sentence without any context (which is a rarity).
    – user6951
    Jun 22, 2014 at 18:13

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