FIND in
<--prev V211 next-->
From: "Don Doggett" 
Subject: (urth) The Book of Typhon Part One - Severian's ancestry
Date: Sun, 24 Nov 2002 23:13:38 -0800

Howdy y'all,

A few posts back, someone wrote that they wished there was a Book of Typhon
and a Book of Piaton.  Well, I don't know about the second but I'm beginning
to believe that the entire Sun Cycle might be the first.  I wonder if Typhon
(excluding Pas) is not the best concealed major character in fiction ever.
And while my reading of King Jesus pointed me in this direction (rightly or
wrongly),  I don't think it's necessary at all to my speculations.  On what?
Severian's ancestry, to start.
    Let me start by saying flat out that I don't believe that Dorcas is
Severian's grandmother or that Ouen is his father.  To me, that is such a
big red herring that we could all eat fish taco's for a month.  It's always
bothered me and I'll state the simple reason why.  Incest.  I cannot believe
that Wolfe would have his main character commit incest, knowingly or
unknowingly, and especially without any good reason.  And there is no good
reason (unless you want to establish Severian as Antichrist, which I don't
believe) for Severian to sleep with his grandmother.  If she was his mother,
there's the Oedipus parallel.  If his sister, there's the marriage of
Pharaoh and his Sister (and other parallels I can't think of).  If his
daughter, there's the story of Noah.  If someone can point out a
mytho-symbolic instance of grandson-grandmother incest then I will rethink
this.  Otherwise I will never be convinced.
    Especially when there are two better alternatives which fit much more
snugly into Severian's mythos.  There is the obvious Jesus parallel where
Joseph/Ouen is the "father" (though God is the real father) and
Mary/Katharine (which means "pure") is the virgin/pelerine mother.  There is
also the Arthurian parallel where Sir Hector is Arthur's "father" through
the intervention of Merlin/Inire? and the real father is Uther the King
(Monarch).  Either fit better than the Dorcas and Ouen alternative.
    Before I get too deep into this, let me say that I have a lot of puzzle
pieces and a fair amount of them fit together, but I don't have a
comprehensive picture and I'm confused by some things.  Mainly I'm confused
by the relationship between Ymar and Severian, and because of this I'm
unable to make the precise connection I'd like between either Ymar and
Typhon or Severian and Typhon.  That said, I'm sure there is a strong
familial connection between the three and I'm equally sure that the Sun
Cycle is also a very complex dynastic novel in addition to it's other mind
boggling functions.  What I'm saying is any help would be appreciated.
    There are four things that tie Ymar to Severian strongly in my mind.
The first is that they are both sheltered by the Guild.  The second is that
they both go on to be Autarch and travel to Yesod.  Third is the anecdote
about Ymar following the dog (which I think is the real point of Severian's
relating it, in spite of his elaborate attempt to explicate it's meaning),
and the fourth is in Ymar's title: the Almost Just.  As in James the Just,
brother of Jesus.  I also discovered that ymar is supposedly Hebrew for ox,
though I have no idea what relevance that has.
    One or both of them is Typhon's son.  My reasoning for this is in the
Tale of a Boy Called Frog.  In this tale, Spring Wind/typhoon/Typhon fathers
twin sons with a princess whose father had given her over to an order of
virgin priestesses (hmmm?).  I would add that Spring Wind is the son of
Early Summer and the juice of a red flower (fire? a rose? the old sun?) "No,
I was not born as I am, or born at all, as you meant it."    The sons are
set adrift on a stream (the brook madregot?) One of the sons is taken in by
wolves and sheltered by the Black Killer (the Guild?) and goes on to rule.
"Here is the red flower.  In his name I rule."  Severian's coat of arms
contains the red flower, as does the mausoleum of his boyhood.  This implies
some sort of dynastic tie between the two.  And Severian's memorial stone in
"Urth" says "by Right the First Man of Urth"  By right of what?  No one
knows whether he's the one to bring the New Sun.  Maybe it's by right of
blood, by his tie to the Monarch.
My problem is, is this Severian the story is talking about or is it Ymar?
Are they brothers?  Are they the same person?  Is one a clone of the other?
If Severian is this son then it seems likely that Katharine and Kypris are
one and the same.  If Ymar is the son then Kypris is surely his mother.  My
pet theory is that Ymar is Typhon's son and Severian is his (Ymar's) clone.
This allows Katharine to give a virgin birth and allows Severian to be his
own father.  This dynastic theory also meshes nicely with Greek mythology,
which as Peter Green states in his introduction to Apollonius of Rhodes
Argonautica (univ. of california press, p.22) ". . . has as background a
complex genealogical web of intertwined family relationships. . ."
    Whatever the answer, the one thing I am absolutely positive of is that
Dorcas is in no way an immediate member of Severian's family.  Which brings
another question.  Does he know his ancestry? (I think yes.  Valeria most
likely told him.)  If he does, why is he hiding it?



<--prev V211 next-->