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From: "Roy C. Lackey" <rclackey@stic.net>
Subject: (urth) Re:Feeding Nessus
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 1999 16:26:04 

John Bishop wrote:

>1. Gyoll is a big river, which implies a big valley upstream,
   and allows river transport of bulk cargo like grain.  So
   a large urban population could be fed, even if local productivity
   is low.  There's no mention of significant food shortages
   that I can recall.<

>3. How big is Nessus anyway?  Much of it is ruined and largely
   abandoned, and the actual population might be quite small.
   I envisioned it as being a large, circular ruin, with small
   populations living along the river and nearby.  And that
   population doesn't extend the full length of the urban shoreline,
   as we are told that the abandoned downstream portion of the
   city is huge.  Indeed, we are told the population is declining,
   and has been so for some time.<

In the fiacre, traveling to the House Azure (I, VIII, p-72) Sev comments:

    "These windows are all dark. I don't think there's anyone in this part
of the Citadel at all." Roche answers:
    "Everything's getting smaller. Not much anybody can do about that. Less
food means fewer people until the New Sun comes."

So, due to the encroaching ice and shorter growing season, the population of
Nessus is not as large as it once was, but even the inhabited portion of the
city is still vast. The Citadel, which was once north of the city, is now on
the southern fringe of the inhabited portions of Nessus, in an area now
decaying. The living heart of the city is well north of the Citadel, as
noted by Cyriaca (III, VI, p-41). And, though Nessus is not as densely
populated as it once was, the population is huge. The lochage Sev met on the
bridge the night he left the Citadel asked (I, XIV, p-116):

"How many people do you think there are in Nessus?"
    "I have no idea."
    "No more do I, Torturer. No more does anyone. Every attempt to count
them has failed, as has every attempt to tax them systematically. The city
grows and changes every night, like writing chalked on a wall. Houses are
built in the streets by clever people who take up the cobbles in the dark
and claim the ground--did you know that? The exultant Talarican, whose
madness manifested itself as a consuming interest in the lowest aspects of
human existence, claimed that the persons who live by devouring the garbage
of others number two gross thousands. That there are ten thousand begging
acrobats, of whom nearly half are women. That if a pauper were to leap from
the parapet of this bridge each time we draw breath, we should live forever,
because the city breeds and breaks men faster than we respire. Among such a
throng, there is no alternative to peace. Disturbances cannot be tolerated,
because disturbances cannot be extinguished. Do you follow me?"

Also, on the night Sev and Dorcas saw the tent cathedral of the Pelerines go
up in the sky, she asked (I, XXXII, p-245):

    "Do you think," she asked, "that anyone saw it but us?"
    I had not considered that, but I said that although the suspension of
the building had endured for only a moment, yet it had taken place above the
greatest of cities; and that if millions and tens of millions had failed to
see it, yet hundreds must still have seen.


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