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The Man Who Was al-Harba

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The Dune Encyclopedia
This article or section refers to elements that appear exclusively in The Dune Encyclopedia.


The Man Who Was al-Harba (RRC 75-BL791) was a book by A. J. Kiilwan written in 10710 AG which made the claim that the al-Harban plays were written by Leto II Atreides, a theory that has surpassed the others in popularity and permanence.

Essentially it follows other theories in demeaning al-Harba, coming down especially heavily on the purported intimate political knowledge of the plays, and claiming that only one who had, so to speak, firsthand knowledge of the events portrayed could have been the author.

ExcerptEdit

Kiilwan points out the lines of Carthage that she says are meaningful only if the writer was Leto II.

The God-Emperor must frequently think of himself as unique, entirely separate from humanity, essentially an alien, as he laments in

"Thy expected alien am I"
(III, i, 1)
and

"Why am I singled out then
For this alien role

— (130-31)


With the memories of his ancestors ever within, he says,

"This day, an alien awoke in me"
- (III, ii, 5)
telling us of his first spiceawareness. Later the experience became commonplace:

"My kind walked among Greeks and Romans"
- (III. i, 47)
, or again,

We've seen it all before, you know.
Carthage, Assyria...."
- (137-38)
Twice in the same scene he weeps over the burden of his long memories:

I have my distant moods, though,
When your history collapses,
And I forget —
Not the day—
Not the year —
But the age!.
Which eon is this?
-(III, ii, 248-54)
And again,

I have to remember who I am
And when.
It's awfully easy to mix up two thousand years,
Just one big kaleidoscopic blur,
Confuses me all to hell!
-(III, ii, 341-45)
Could any mortal have written those lines?
-(pp. 217-18)

CriticismEdit

The theory's premise would suggest that Leto could have been as well the writer of every history ever penned. There can be plentiful of fanciful theories. The theory of metempsychosis can explain every accurate historical work to interior "voices". Al-Harba could have been as well a reincarnation of someone who lived in antiquity, yet nobody claimed such thing.

Students of Atreidean literature have long known that Harq al-Harba used sources, most of which have survived. In the case of the play Carthage, al-Harba followed Tovat Gwinsted's The Chronicles of the Conquerors.

The second scene that Kiilwan quotes from, contains these lines:

Make way for a better instructor —
Assur-nasir-apli, cruelest of the cruel,
Whose reign began with patricide.
-(III, ii. 125-27)

A similar description is found in one (RCC 31-A125) of The Stolen Journals/DE by Leto:

"Our ancestor, Assur-nasir-apli, who was known as the cruelest of the cruel, seized the throne by slaying his own father and starting the reign of the sword."

However, the suggestion that Leto wrote both is illusory. The relevant passage from the Chronicles reads as follows:

"In this he had a better teacher, Assur-nasir-apli, cruelest of the cruel, who slew his father to take possession of the throne."

Another crystal records the gist of a conversation with Ixian ambassador Malky. Leto had asked him if he knew the words Taquiyya or ketman. Fluent in Fremen language, he defined the second as "the practice of concealing the identity when revealing it might be harmful." Pleased at his response, Leto then stated that he had written several histories under a pseudonym, including those of Noah Arkwright, and even Arkwright's biography.

The above reinforces the theory that Leto could also have been al-Harba. However he admitted he wrote histories, no plays; plus, the definition of ketman that Leto praised is not satisfactory; revealing the supposed authorship of some plays would no way be harmful to him. The Spacing Guild, the Great Houses, the Ixians, the Bene Gesserit, the Tleilaxu, all tried to "harm" him, and all failed. Yet in no instance is it recorded that they would harm him because he would write stage dramas.

As the emperor continued his rule, he clutched the power to surprise ever more jealously to himself. It sometimes seems that his reign was dedicated to reducing humanity on every planet to a uniform grayness. He could have supported, perhaps even fathered the notion that he was Harq al-Harba.

The book gives no evidence, compelling or otherwise, for believing that Leto II was Harq al-Harba, but it has aroused suspicions about the identity of A. J. Kiilwan.

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