From: "Alice K. Turner"
Subject: (urth) Gnostic Wolfe Date: Wed, 23 Oct 2002 20:25:11 -0400 Not answering anyone completely because it's just too hard to do multiple answers on the Digest now (hi, Ranjit!) but Wombat asked why Middle Eastern mythology rather than Hellenic or Norse? An easy answer would be that neither ever had a goddess as fierce and treacherous as Inanna/Ishtar could be, and that we meet in the series. (Though indeed the Celts had some.) But, aha, that is a canard. The mythology, as Typhon/Pas planned it, is indeed Hellenic. In Greek mythology nearly all monsters are female, though there's an occasional male with eye problems, like the Cyclops or Argus--or Typhon himself, whose problems were explosive rather than ocular. I think Wolfe probably read Gilgamesh, if not other Middle Eastern myths, and got some input into vengeful female deities. He certainly used the Gnostic Demiurge, who was Middle Eastern, in another tradition. And the shorter works point to some interest in Native American myth. But the Plan of Pas wrt the Family is based strongly on Greek myth, particularly on Hesiod's account of who begat whom: the children of Echidna and Typhon, with a borrowing or two from here and there. There's a nasty sense of humor at work in the Plan of Pas as his uploaded offspring act out their assumed roles, as if in a charade. Wolfe is in no way sympatheic to Pas as Demiuurge. So: Sophia. Wombat and I puzzled over the extended and rather out-of-whack fictionally, baby Scylla sequence in the last SS novel, wondering if this could be a last-ditch attempt to drag a Sophia figure in (sorry, Wombat, I am paraphrasing, and possibly mis-phrasing). But, as he says, it seems rather strained, whether or not this is true. And perhaps that is what is meant by an anti-Gnostic view--because in my own view Sophia is an extraordinarily sympathetic, if terribly mistaken, figure. And that is not what Wolfe has given us, in either aspect of his Scylla. Finally, interesting that this St. Francis's job is the slaughter of animals. -alga --