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From: m.driussi@genie.geis.com
Subject: (urth) Forgotten Names
Date: Sat, 28 Mar 98 19:21:00 GMT

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

Reply:  Item #2316394 from URTH@LISTS.BEST.COM@INET#


Right re: Dux Caesidius.  He died the year before Severian returned
to Urth (and there was that dead assassin in the Second House; are
these two deaths related?).  In addition to the Claudius theme, I
believe the scenario shows us that Severian hasn't fully learned the
lesson of the Storm on Gyoll south of Os, which was raised because of
his jealousy regarding Burgundofara and Captain H.  That is to say,
the same sort of thing happens--Severian's "ID Monster" raises the dead
assassin and allows it to kill Valeria for her infidelity, but in
this case by way of a familiar (to Severian) mechanism exactly that of
judge (who hands down death sentence, but doesn't execute it) and
torturer (who executes but doesn't judge) which leaves two people
"guiltless" (persons one step removed) and one person dead.

(Wasn't "Duxbellorum" one of historical King Arthur's titles?)

To which I'd like to add a new speculation regarding Holy Katharine,
patron saint of Severian's guild.  I remain puzzled as to Severian's
rather quick and callous murder of Prefect Prisca (V, ch. 36), a move
we know was instrumental in breaking the guild of jailers into the
guild of torturers and the guild of witches (attributed to Ymar).  I
have failed to find any case of Jesus doing something like this
womanslaying, nor any clear mythic link.  Yet it just might be that
this tyrannicide is transformed into the yearly atonement ritual for
Holy Katharine.

Re: planets.  I now tend to think Abaddon is the word for "subspace"
(which makes much more sense).  Don't forget "Serenus" aka Jupiter
aka "Bethor."

Re: G17.  Perhaps they have "Correct Thought" versions of politburo
titles?  (Since GW has said G17 comes from soviet politburo.)
"Number 2 is dead--long live Number 2!"

Re: carbon dating personal names of Urth.  The paradox of our world
where such modern sounding names as "Catherine" are applied to such
ancient saints, and saints of several centuries later have such
unusual "ancient"-sounding, exotic names.  As alga pointed out, Jonas
is an Old Testament name, suggesting (perhaps tentatively) that this
character comes from a pre-Conciliator period (let alone the whole
issue of how the biblical "Jonah" story shapes the Urth adventures of

So "modern" names can be ancient and "ancient" names can be modern,
depending on the overall theory (i.e., "the what's-the-point? point"
in vernacular) in play.

How about names for the quarters of Nessus?  My newest theory is that
"Algedonic Quarter" is the Latinate officialese form given to a dead
(but not yet forgotten) quarter, referring in this case to the
torturers and the prostitutes to be found there.  The people
of a living quarter refer to it by some landmark: their use of the
term "Old Citadel" implies there is a "(newer) Citadel" (presumably
the citadel of the archon of Nessus); Dorcas goes home to "Oldgate,"
which is now a nameless ruin but had a living name when Dorcas was
first there forty years earlier.

So across the river from the Algedonic Quarter we have the khan of
Night and a lion pit as two famous features.  What might the Latinate
name of that quarter be?

Dead languages: on Urth we have quasi-Latin and pseudo-Greek in some
use, both using alphabets; we also have a "crimson teratoid sign"
referred to as "a glyph from some tongue beyond the shores of Urth"
(II, ch. 18).  What language analog does this belong to?

"Glyph" is used to describe elements of written Hebrew, I believe. But
the hierodules, who use Hebraic terms for planets, seem to describe a
sigil of "snake biting its own tail" as the symbol for Urth (III, ch.
33).  True--a culture can use both symbol and glyph; or there could
be two different cultures.

Hard to say.  I should probably re-read Borges's THE BOOK OF
IMAGINARY BEINGS, which Wolfe cites as the origin of Baldanders; maybe
there's an answer therein.


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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