Vol. 2 | Chapter One: Kashan Castle (ii)

The Nimruz Mountains slashed across the region slightly south of central Pars, stretching two hundred farsangs from east to west…


Notes under the cut:

Yet another section with seriously lengthy notes —

1. Well, that explains Narses.

I talked about the sahrdaran term back in Chapter 2 of the first book, but it’s worth remarking on again. (edit: “shahrdaran” may be the better transcription for this, see comments.) The in-text translation is 諸侯, which as I’ve said is often translated awkwardly into English as “dukes/princes” but originally referred to the warlords of the Chinese Zhou dynasty (my pet period of interest). Of course, the term morphed as time went on, and as it was adopted into Japanese, pretty much turning into a generalized term for ruling aristocracy. i.e. “feudal lords” is another viable translation of the term; however, for various reasons I won’t go into, it’s not a translation I support. (Long story short, “feudal society” is a terrible generalization of various historical political infrastructures across different cultures.)

Having said that, I should note that there is another term that the text often uses in a more general sense, 領主. Now this term does translate better into “feudal lord,” but I’ve been translating it as a simple “lord(s)” or “territorial lords.”

Anyway, all that is why I originally translated, and continue to translate, 諸侯 as “governors” (it is a solely plural term, and in Arslan ONLY used in this specific context). Which is what sahrdaran essentially were IRL. The term referred to landowning nobles — local rulers in their own right. To grab the relevant passage from the source that I also link to in the glossary (discussing the four classifications of Sassanid aristocracy):

Members of the first group were called by the (singular) title sahrdar in Middle Persian and ‘ruler of the peoples’ (despotes ton ethnon) in Greek. They comprised local dynasts and those sons of the ‘King of Kings’ to whom he had entrusted the government of key parts of the empire. The group ranked second (mpl wispuhran, grl hoi ek basileon) comprised members of the royal clan who did not belong to the ruler’s immediate family (‘princes of the blood’ in more recent parlance). The third grouping (mpl wuzurgan) was made up of the heads of the seven most important noble families – the Waraz, the Parthian clans Suren and Karin, the Spahbed, Mihran, Spandiyad and the ‘lords of Andegan’. Last came the azadan, or rump of the Iranian nobility.

This section more or less confirms that my instincts were correct, and that sahrdaran in Arslan-verse are pretty much the same as their RL equivalents. They own territories and are allowed their own standing armies.

The only qualm I originally had about the “governor” translation was that I didn’t know how I would deal with the more commonly known term in English, satrap, if it ever came up. As it turns out, satrap DOES show up in later volumes. But, knowing the context, I have a pretty good idea how to handle it now.

2. Honorifics/titles are still annoying to deal with: Farangis is now using -kyou (which I also discussed back in the previous book) for Dariun and Narses, but I decided to stick to “Sir” (which is what I had translated her slightly sarcastic -dono for Giv, which, as you may recall, had been in response to his use of -dono for her). She no longer uses an honorific for Giv. (Giv is still using -dono.) What this says about their respective relationships, I will leave up to reader interpretation. 😛

However, the -kyou that is used for Hojir in the narrative I kept as “Lord.” (It would feel kind of weird to see -dono in omniscient narration. Hojir’s spoken Lord for Dariun, otoh, is a -dono, which makes sense because they’re technically social equals.)

3. Speaking of which, Hojir’s name in Japanese is rendered ホディール (ho-dii-ru). In my opinion though, ディ in this context is very likely a substitution for ヂ (dji, a sound no longer really distinguished from ジ/ji in modern Japanese and used only in like one word). I could be wrong, but since there’s a Shahnameh character named Hojir (also spelled Hedjir, Hejir, etc.), and “Hodir” is a Norse god…

(Why not ホジール instead? Probably because ジー is often interpreted as a voiced s, frex German Sieg.)

4. Not really sure what kind of armor the Lusitanians were wearing (there is no explicit terminology, just “chest armor”, so I had to improvise a bit here to make it understandable), but the implication is that it’s not full plate. Maybe obvious considering the role archery plays in the series. We already had hints about this on the Parsian side in the previous book during the final Qaran showdown; my guess is that the cavalry on both sides mostly use mail + scale armor + padded vests, with only select pieces of plate for the elite. See also: cataphracts. Feel free to chime in, armor nerds.

5. Fort(ress) vs. citadel vs. castle: The terms in English are more or less interchangeable, actually. The Japanese term used is 城砦 (jousai). Citadel is a pretty standard translation for this. However, citadels are historically city centers — and Kashan is isolated up in the mountains. The difference then between “fort” and “castle” is that the latter has connotations of being a fortified noble residence while the former has more strictly military connotations. You may remember if you were paying attention that I listed this chapter as “Fort Kashan” for a long time… but Hojir’s lifestyle seems comfy/settled enough to call it Kashan Castle while describing it as a mountain fortress, and in fact the text does occasionally use a term that translates better as castle when referring to Kashan.

6. Apparently there’s a considerable difference between American sherbet/sorbet and UK sherbet/sorbet. Well, fortunately for us, what Arslan gets here is neither: sharbat. Strictly speaking, Tanaka uses “sharbat” for the drink and “sherbet” for the dessert, but since in context they’re basically the same thing (and “sherbet” introduces ambiguity) I decided to stick with one term only. This isn’t as redundant as it seems in Japanese because “sharbat” is accompanied with kanji translation while “sherbet” is a standard loan word (Japanese meaning = US meaning, more or less, or what other countries call sorbet).


4 thoughts on “Vol. 2 | Chapter One: Kashan Castle (ii)

  1. M.A.KH says:

    Thanks for update.
    Em i think the correct spelling will be shahrdaran because it actually means “city owners” or “city keepers” shahr means city.

    • M.A.KH says:

      And also i think by “hojir” you ment “hajeer (هژیر)” .
      Hojir(هوجیر) if memory serves me right about my arabic lessons is an arabic name.
      But all in all great translation.
      Some questions what is nabit?
      What is sherbet (sorbet) is exactly?
      Thanks in advance. 🙂

      • T. E. Waters says:

        Hm, “shahrdaran” makes sense. I think probably the older texts chose to spell the starting sh with s only. I’ll go back to tweak that when I have time.

        “Hojir” vs “Hajeer”, yeah probably! This was one of the names no one seemed to agree on a spelling for. I think I’ll keep it as Hojir for now though since the spelling is weird (edit: I meant the transcription in Japanese), but thanks for the note.

        nabid seems to be Arabic — some sort of wine with lower alcohol content, but I also saw it used to just mean wine in general.

        Sherbet in the US usually refers to fruity ice cream! Well, not ice cream exactly, but basically frozen dessert with dairy content.

  2. doso says:

    thanks again for the chapter!

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