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From: raster@highfiber.com (Charles Dye)
Subject: (urth) "a score of years, like dogs."
Date: Sat, 11 Jul 1998 13:17:59 

m.driussi@genie.com (mantis) writes:

>The quote raster mentions (ch. 34 in URTH) has a context: Severian
>still thinks he has returned to his era (he doesn't guess he is in
>Typhon's); he has a sense of failure (since the white fountain cannot
>arrive to his era in time); and he is wondering about this "Monarch"
>people are talking about, thinking that Inire wouldn't do such a
>thing.  (In a real sense, a presentiment of what he will find when he
>gets closer to home-time.)  (We will skip over all possible excuses,
>like: Severian, hearing a masculine title "Monarch," envisions the
>first =male= candidate of succession, Inire, rather than the first
>candidate, Valeria.)

I think he's aware that he's Billy Pilgrimmed.  He just doesn't have
any idea how far.  Certainly the planet isn't the way he left it.

>Of course I may be over-reading raster (throw me a bone!), but the
>suggestion is (I believe):
>     Severian's Reign from 1 S.R. to 10 S.R.
>     Inire's Regency from 10 S.R. to ?? S.R.
>     Valeria's "pseudo-autarchy" from ?? S.R. to 50 S.R.
>     Severian returns 50 S.R.

Oh, I'm nowhere near that precise :-)  But yes, I think Inire was
left at the wheel; then at some point, Valeria found a reason to take
over.  Perhaps Inire died.  Or perhaps her remarriage made a new
Autarch look plausible.  Or maybe just because Sev has been gone
so long -- as you point out, this is expected to be a short trip,
making a regency reasonable.

>  [Snip Oddyseus.  Though I'm sure you hit a homer there.]
>With that out of the way--Inire as regent: what a dumb idea!  Poor
>little wry-neck Inire, ancient and twisted!  They only live a score
>of years!  (That's 20, for you ultramoderns--so Inire is what, 19 or
>21 already?)  Serving autarchs since Ymar, skipping through the
>corridors of time!  All reinforcing the notion that the trip to Yesod
>was thought to take less than a year.

Honestly, I don't think it's such a dumb idea.  You're suggesting that
Inire pops in on each Autarch's reign for a month or two (A day or two?
How many Autarchs?) to render pithy advice.  Oh, it's possible, I
suppose, but it just doesn't feel right to me.  Judging by his first
letter to Severian, I see an individual who is deeply immersed in
the day-to-day politics of the Commonwealth and the war with Ascia.
He was present in the previous Autarch's reign long enough to gain
a devoted servant in Rudesind, long enough that Thecla couldn't be
certain that he wasn't actually pulling the strings.  He has his own
personal suite of apartments, rather than being assigned a room in the
BOQ.  If my guess is right, Inire has more experience running an empire
than any human being.

Here are a few not-so-random quotes:

"... old Father Inire, alive so long beyond the span of his short-
lived kind ...."  -- Severian, IV-38

"Growth has its disadvantages, though for your species it is the
only method by which youth can be reinstated."  -- Ossipago, III-34
(Note the qualification!)

"She cannot.  She is very old, but this city was devastated whole
ages before she came to be."  -- Merryn, of the Cumeaen (who in
turn finds an older friend!) II-31

Also, Severian says that he's certain the Hierodules come in different
colors and flavors.  Can't find the reference, but I'm sure someone else
will remember where it is.

   *   *   *
     *   *   *

Now for some wild speculation.  Imagine you're a scientist, a
biologist with a very rational and materialistic viewpoint.  You are
visited at infrequent intervals by mysterious colleagues who obviously
know far more than they tell.  You have a special interest in youth
and the process of aging -- it's your life work! -- and you slowly
come to the uncomfortable realization that your guests are getting
younger with each visit.  They also have an odd habit of forgetting
conversations, details of their previous visits.  How do you explain

Of course, your "friends" must represent successive generations in a
single family.  (Whoa, deja vu.)  From the intervals between visits,
you can figure the length of a generation; and from there, it's easy
enough to estimate lifespans.  In short:  Baldanders' statement of
the Hierodule lifetime may be based on a wildly faulty assumption.

>IF Valeria's reign is from 10 S.R. to 50 S.R., then the argument
>boils down to simply the use of the term "regency" (as committed by
>Feeley and myself) rather than some more-accurate-but-not-yet-
>specified word.

I don't think Wolfe uses the word, but I like it anyway.  I get the
impression that Severian has left Inire at the helm; and the faint
madness-of-the-monarch resonance fits in too.  Why Inire rather than
Valeria?  First, he has had umpteen centuries experience in the
management of the Commonwealth.  Second, while Valeria has the
bloodline, that doesn't necessarily make her a leader.  She seems
pretty peevish in "Urth," though I guess that's understandable.  What
with the world ending and all.

Finally, Valeria is queen (ahem, autarchia) only by dint of being
married to Severian.  She doesn't rule "in her own right."  She
can't succeed to the Autarchy legally.  Come to think of it, noone
can truly claim the throne while Severian is alive.  Or if his
body is lost at sea.  I think the Commonwealth is forced into an
indefinite regency until the New Sun comes!


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

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