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From: Michael Straight <straight@email.unc.edu>
Subject: Re: (urth) Re: Digest urth.v004.n021
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 1997 15:52:36 

[Posted from URTH, a mailing list about Gene Wolfe's New Sun and other works]

Spoilers for Soldier Series...

On Tue, 16 Sep 1997, Alice Turner wrote:

> >His real name is Lucius; he is a Latin; he was cursed by the Great
> >Mother Goddess for messing up her temple during a battle; "Latro"
> >means both "mercenary" and "pawn" (game piece), and Lucius is
> >definitely both; and, in the interview words of Gene Wolfe, Lucius
> >has a truly magic sword--"It cuts things." <g>
> Plus, there are a lot of real people and real events in the books. Latro's
> nearest and dearest are fictional, of course, but the "important" periphal
> characters, politicians, royalty and such (as opposed to farmers and the
> like), are not. Latro gets caught up with these people, never quite
> understanding his role. The gods are the Greek versions; though Latro is
> Roman, this is early enough so that the Romans had not yet adopted (and
> adapted) the Greek pantheon---and of course the gods would necessarily be
> local, anyway.

I have a friend who is a Classics professor who specializes in this time
period.  I thought he might enjoy these books, but when I described it to
him, he said that Latro's chronology doesn't work.  At the time of the
events of the novel, the closest thing to Latin in the world was a dialect
spoken only by a few farmers in a ten-mile radius somewhere near what is
now Rome, and even then, who knows how close it was to what we know as

The best I could think of to make it work is that Latro is somehow one of
those farmers impressed into military service or gone off to seek his
fortune as a mercenary, except isn't it implied that the language of the
people Latro rescues at the end (Phonecians?) is the same Latin he's been


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