Six Views of the Egg of Time, V. IV


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On the Confused Etymology of Numidium and the Song of Freedom
by Titanius Pundus, Professor of Philology, Imperial College, Cyrodiil

It seems no one can discuss The Egg of Time without also mentioning Divine Metaphysics. Therefore, let us do so as briefly as possible. Divine Metaphysics appears to be a very poor copy of the original. Even the title appears to have multiple copy errors as well as a severe translation error. The first word of the title does not contain any divine names or theological terms based on Aldmeri roots, but it does hint at a few Aldmeri roots such as “zero, infinity,” “leap, spring, run,” and “fall, sink.” The second word’s connections, particularly to shell, pod, and sheath, cannot be overlooked. Perhaps the original title may be better translated as Diving Second Shell. The drawing in this book probably represents some kind of protective armor for underwater use, possibly to protect the wearer from dreugh and slaughterfish.

And now on to The Egg of Time! Could the Dwemer be early Nu-Mantians? Could they have desired freedom so much that they spent centuries building a metaphysical model of Lorkhan (Anu-Midi) which allowed them to channel his divine power through song and escape from the prison of Nirn? These are the questions scholars should be asking.

How can the mainstream story of the Dwemer be so grossly incorrect? Most of the confusion comes from a poor understanding of etymology. For instance, one of the most common theories is that the Dwemer became the golden skin of the Anumidium. It appears this notion comes from such closely related words as Nu-Midium and Ada-Mantia as well as Mantella, mantle, and mantilla. “Anumidium” is a mishmash of languages, being composed of the Aldmeris creator-diety *Anu as a root, the Ayleid verb *mid- or *mind-, and the Nedic case-ending *-um. This word is often translated as “god-cloak” or “god-skin,” but as the word *mid- or *mind- is derived from a verb, it should be translated as “wearing Anu.” So why is Anumidium associated with Lorkhan and not with Anu? While I cannot answer this question, it is clear that much of the original meaning has been lost or misunderstood.

Other derivations of Anumidium, such as “new doom” or “doom walker,” are fanciful and based solely on a lazy pronunciation of the word in modern Cyrodilic. A-new-(mi)-doom.

Ada-Mantia has a very similar, but less linguistically confused meaning. *ad- is the Aldmeris root for an unspecified “god” or divine being, although it is less often used in a way that may mean “first, foremost.” *man(d)- is the Aldmeris noun form of “cloak, skin.” Of course this root can also be a pronoun similar to “who” but the use in a compound word and the plural suffix preclude this possibility. So taken altogether, Ada-Mantia means “god cloaks” or “god skins.” What could this name possibly mean? Perhaps it is related to early myths of The Tower holding up the tattered cloak of Oblivion. Usually these myths appear to refer to the constellation of The Tower and not, for instance, the Adamantine Tower, but the two may have both been confused in some way with the celestial pole. Why would the Adamantine Tower have such a similar sounding name and meaning to the Anumidium? This is a puzzle that must wait for another day, although it is clear that that name of the tower itself predates the use of the word “adamantium” to refer to the grey metal used so heavily in the tower’s construction.

So what can we learn from this etymology? I believe the intent of the Dwemer was to wear the metaphysical cloak of Anu, not to become the skin of a construct. It is not clear to me why a physical Anumidium was necessary, but this is a question far outside my own specialty.

So what can philology tell us about The Egg of Time? Unfortunately, it cannot decipher the text as a language. However, it can definitively prove that the text is not in the Dwemer language. The letters do not form any known words or any roots of known words. A few words of Dwemeris are known, and if The Egg of Time contained any element of the Dwemer language it should be recognizable. As nothing in the text is recognizable, the letters do not represent the Dwemer language. Additionally, the brevity of the text indicates that it cannot be a complex message.

So what could the letters in The Egg of Time mean? Could the letters represent something else, such as musical notation? After all, Kagrenac was described as a tonal architect. There are no known examples of Dwemer musical notation, but we know that they had instruments and song.

What song could possibly be so important to be recorded in The Egg of Time? There are several possible uses of musical notation in this context. Perhaps the text indicates the musical notes required to construct or activate the Anumidium. Could it be the very song that let the Dwemer escape Nirn and mortality itself? Could the secret of how the Dwemer defied the gods be hidden in these notes?

Reconstructing musical notation itself would be a difficult and lengthy project, but perhaps the most important research ever conducted. A good starting assumption would be that each regular letter has a value. Perhaps the Dwemer used different letters to represent the same note, but with different durations. Blank spaces in the grid could indicate a sustain or a moment of silence. Some of the unusual symbols, such as the horizontal bar, may indicate an accidental. Or perhaps the non-alphabetical symbols represent a change of tempo or key.

What further interpretations does this suggest? Why does Kagrenac strike the Heart of Lorkhan? Perhaps the Heart rings with the tonic of Mundus. With this tone as a guide, the tonal architects could sing the song that freed them from the stifling bonds of Nirn. What purpose does Anumidium serve? Perhaps it is a resonant chamber in either a physical or metaphorical sense. And so, finally, what happened to the Dwemer? They sang the song of freedom, ascended to the Aetherius, joining-becoming the et’Ada, completing the cycle. In the unchanging bliss of eternity, time is not as we see it, and the Dwemer are there alive and dead, our descendants and creators. Even now they look down upon us prisoners from their lofty heights beyond the tattered cloak of Oblivion, peeking through the holes of the sky with pity.

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