Impact of the Ark Myth on Society
How does the Ark Fantastic relate to the Animal Kingdom? Why is it central to their society and our game? Well, the entire caste system of the Animal Kingdom is derived from the ancient Ark myth. Let’s briefly go over it again:
In the past, there was a flood and an ark housed all the animals whose ancestors are alive today. The journey to stay alive on the ark during the flood was perilous, but possible due to the guidance of the lions.
The other noble cats ruled over wings of the ark, the steward animals kept peace aboard the ark, the commoners were the hardworking animals who kept the ark afloat, and the vermin were the no-good scoundrels who didn’t do anything right. Once the flood subsided, the ark reached land and animals spilled forth and formed what is now known as the Animal Kingdom.
That’s the long-short of it. There are many scholastic debates in modern ark-lore, for example – what was the world like before the flood? Did the lions build the ark or did the world begin with the flood and all the animals on it?
If the world didn’t begin with the flood, then how did it begin?
The orthodox view is that the ark myth is also the creation myth and that the flood was the beginning of time, a primordial eternal sea of nothingness with an ark with all the animals being the only point of life. There are others with opposing beliefs – that the world is eternal, and it had no start, nor will it have an end.
They hold that the Animal Kingdom existed before the flood as well, and the flood was just a moment in history that happened, and perhaps another flood will happen again, or many.
Leaving scholastics aside, what does it all mean in the context of society? Well, the story is seen as both a historical truth and as an allegory of which species are good at what in society – lions are excellent rulers, other cats are great as administrators, the species belonging to the steward caste are great at overseeing the commoners, and commoners are good workers, while vermin are good for nothing.
The caste and the hierarchy
There have always been dissidents to this idea of course – animals who believe the myth is fake and/or that animals should follow a different hierarchy or none at all. During the course of known history, there were many uprisings and revolts, but none succeeded in breaking the unified and strong Animal Kingdom and its lionese rule. The belief in the caste system is so engrained in the populace for countless generations that it is difficult for animals to imagine a different hierarchy.
Now, if the myth were to be put in question, what would happen? This happened a few times in history – when the southern continent was discovered, it confused the scholars at first. Didn’t all the animals from the ark later embark and form the Animal Kingdom? Where did these animals come from? Are some animals found here not mentioned in the ark myth?
The problem with these questions is that it is difficult to answer them without having the original ark myth to compare. The original ark myth was of course lost in translation from the forgotten ancient lionese language of 2000 years ago, but the modern translations were also prone to historical inaccuracies.
For example, it makes sense that animals that haven’t been seen or heard from for centuries would not appear in modern ark myth. That would explain no mention of monkeys or alligators from the southern continent in the modern translations of the ark myth. The modern ark scholars point to older non-translated texts in ancient lionese which hold many more species names in the ark manifest than are in the current translation.
Big moment of disbelief
Another big moment of disbelief in the ark myth happened when king Michaël’s finding of the ancient Ark landing site was proved to be a forgery by scam artists. This put a stain on ark-seekers that persists to this day. However, it is not easy to sway the opinion held by so many for so long. Not by evidence, anyway.
What has started to happen recently is that certain factions have started to question the myth in order to back up their political and philosophical ideologies. Some say that the ark is a fake story to keep the hierarchy in place, a helpful tool that helped the lions to “divide and conquer” the rest of the animals.
This is not said out loud and certainly not printed on paper, but the sentiment grows stronger, especially amongst reformists seeking a democratic rule of the Kingdom and revolutionaries seeking to bring about anarchy.
The problem, however, is that none of these have so far provided a compelling counter-narrative. If not with the flood, how did the world start? Why is the Kingdom the way it is, and what is the natural order of things anyway, if such a thing exists?
The status quo?
In the end, perhaps it will be shown that these minute and deep questions do not matter much. Not for a faction whose leader can boast of great charisma and rallying skill, nor for a faction composed of castes tired of being trodden down.
Or maybe most animals will see that the status quo of this enlightened monarchy is not so bad, and fear of unknown change is greater than the allure of hazy promises.
But perhaps, in a chaotic social situation the Kingdom has found itself in, just perhaps, a single scholar could tip the scales ever slightly in one’s favor, and change the course of history? That’s what the game is essentially about.