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From: "Greene, Carlton" <CGreene2@hunton.com>
Subject: (urth) The Conation of Catodon; Severian's skull (long)
Date: Thu, 21 Oct 1999 20:38:16 

In TUoTNS (at 306 Tor Hardback), Juturna the undine explains to Severian
that Abaia's a good guy whose been trying to help out the people of Urth all
along.  When Valeria asks "When has Abaia sought our good?", Juturna replies

"He might have destroyed you ... He's tried to tame you instead.  Catch
Catodon ... cast out his conation.  What good?  Abaia would make of us a
great people."

Webster's defines "conation" as an attempt or, alternatively, as
inclination, instinct, drive, wish, or craving.

So who is Catodon and what exactly was he attempting or driven to do?  By
saying "cast out,"  Juturna suggests that Catodon has already performed some
specific acts as part of his attempt that must be undone.

It is interesting also that Juturna says Abaia would make of "us" a great
people.  Are humans and the brides of Abaia born of the same stock?  The
existence of Idas certainly suggests this is so.  Also, Baldander's growth
and eventual migration to the sea suggest a link between humankind and
beings like Juturna.  I have also speculated earlier that some of Typhon's
family (Scylla, e.g.) may have remained on Earth, growing monstrous in a
gambit to achieve immortality a la Baldanders (I do not know if this has
been suggested before).  

One other interesting tidbit.  Many people on this list have discussed the
various "alternate Severians" -- the branchings that substantiate in part
Severian's claim that he is "rooted in eternity."  In this regard, I was
fascinated by the skull Sev finds at the bottom of the Gyoll after the
Flood. (see p. 333)  Sev speculates that it is the skull of a boy apprentice
who died many years ago (the skull is yellowed with age), and that the boy
died for Severian so that he might cheat Gyoll of his own death (i.e. his
death by drowning in Book 1).  Sev. places the skull at the gate of his
mausoleum in the (submerged) Necropolis.  

Given other events in TBoTNS (Sev's death in Sidero, e.g.), this leads me to
believe that Sev has found his own skull, and that he did in fact drown that
day in Gyoll when he swam among the nenuphars as a boy, resurrected and
"copied" as he was in the Sidero/Apu Punchau events.  

One last, odd wrinkle: Sev's conversation with Juturna in the audience
chamber of the House Absolute.  Sev says of Juturna: "She saved me once when
I was a boy" and then to her "Do you remember that?"  Juturna replies "No.
It hasn't yet occurred.  It will, because you spoke."  

What does this say about Juturna's actions throughout the novels?   We now
have reason to think that they were motivated in part by her encounter with
Sev before the Flood.  Why does she help him knowing the New Sun will come
(and Abaia be destroyed) if she does?  And earlier, what help does she think
she can bring to humans about to be drowned in the HA? (see 305-06).  Why
isn't Juturna concerned about Abaia's demise both just before and after the
flood?  Was she somehow bound to go back and save Sev because of his words
about it, but still hoped to manipulate him in Abaia's favor in the past?

Just a few thoughts.  My apologies if "Sev's skull" has been dealt with

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

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