A Crown of Feathers

A book, written by Persiflex, known only from fragments. A Crown of Feathers is about an approach to problems, especially to situations of conflict, which the author claims to be all-powerful. The approach depends on inducing one’s opponent to move, and then using his momentum to his disadvantage. One is supposed to take control of one’s opponent by influencing the situation he perceives, never to be where one’s opponent is striking at, and always to frustrate purpose, not action. One must keep one’s opponent moving, so that he always has momentum to exploit. The concept of momentum includes physical momentum in physical fights, a supposed psychological analogue in more abstract conflicts between individuals, and an analogue in the behaviour of groups.
The principles of a Crown of Feathers are called "pankration", and when applied to hand-to-hand combat result in a system for fighting which resembles aikido, relying on circular movements to frustrate the purpose of an enemy’s blow, and not on blocking the blow. Many of the surviving fragments of a Crown of Feathers have been preserved by students of pankration as a martial art. Others have been preserved by military writers. Persiflex’s advice on situations of non-violent conflict have been lost. Allusions to a chapter on the struggle against fate are no more than tantalising mirages.

From A Crown of Feathers:

If you would be where the enemy is not, induce him to rush at you and step aside.

Never let yourself be crushed between the enemy and his goal.

The battle is fought in the mind of the enemy. An enemy who thinks he cannot lose is already half beaten.

By use of the principles by which one swordsman beats ten, a thousand men can defeat a myriad.

The mystery of steel is that flesh is stronger, the mystery of flesh, that the mind is stronger. And yet the mind is feebler than the gentlest breeze.

A Crown of Feathers was originally three volumes. The first alone has survived intact, and about one fifth of the second volume survives as disconnected quotes in secondary sources. None of the material of the last volume has survived.

The significance of the title is unknown.


Copyright © 1991 by Brett Evill. All rights reserved.