The Presbyterate and Prester John


I had a thought of late. Most of us are aware of some kind of association between the Elder Continent and something (or someone?) called the Presbyterate. But the continent remains elusive, with more things hinted at than actually stated outright. Which got me thinking of Prester John, a medieval legend of a Christian King who was hidden somewhere on the, depending on the legend, East or South of Muslim countries. There were other legends - those of men with their heads in their torsos, etc., all neatly documented in Umberto Eco’s Baudolino - that had to do with bizarre forms of men who lived in this kingdom.

Now, I’ll admit this seems more like a source of inspiration than something that we can decode for further hints of the Elder Continent. But I do like the parallels: a hidden, far-off country with strange versions of men. The names tie together nicely as well - both are forms of Presbyter, an elder or minister in the church. Indeed, the root word πρεσβυτηρος (presbuteros) means elder, which comes from πρεσβυς, presbus, old man.

Should we be talking about the Presbetyric Continent, then?

I have no clue about the accuracy of the hypothesis, but here’s another point to consider: I think I remember some of the accounts describing Prester John as impossibly old; like he achieved immortality, or, more probably, like “Prester John” ceased to be a personal name to become more of a title (a bit like the Dread Pirate Roberts, in fact XD). So technically he was old too ^^

(By the way, I read Baudolino too. Quite entertaining!).

That book is one of my favourites, so I was aware of this. I think I wrote a post about the Presbyterate somewhere in that long “Fallen Cities” thread.
I’m quite certain the Prester John legend is the inspiration for the Elder Continent. How far the parallels actually go remains to be seen as we still don’t know enough about the Elder Continent.

I know this thread is old, but I just found this text from the Presbyterate Diplomat Petpanion in the 2013 Feast:
“I had a promotion to the Mortality College, and then I was intemperate. Now I find myself adrift here in this silly little civilisation. I get so bored. Can you help with that?”

If I remember correctly, there was an early (lower-level) storylet involving creating outlandish stories for people, and the failure involved creating a story about someone visiting from the court of Prestor John and everyone takes it much more seriously than you expect.