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From: "James Wynn" 
Subject: RE: (urth) Typhon and Severian
Date: Mon, 10 Mar 2003 12:54:06 -0600

Crush says:
>Having not read 'King Jesus' my problems with the
>Herod-Jesus/Typhon-Severian analogy is mythopoetic:
>I do agree that Typhon takes the thematic role of Herod at times - I
>decided with Typhon's meeting with Severian in 'Urth of the New Sun' more
>closely parallels Herod and Jesus or Herod and John the Baptist.

Chris shakes his head and says:
I have trouble agreeing with this, since Typhon's role with respect to
Severian is solidly and beyond question related to Satan's role with Jesus.
The resemblance to Herod is going to be, in large part, a matter of Herod
resembling Satan at times...

Crush responds:
I'm not sure what part you don't agree with, but I'll take a shot at an
answer to the best of my ability.

As do mythological characters in Graves' works, Wolfe's characters
frequently (usually) carry multiple thematic roles. So, yes, Typhon's and
Severian's meeting in Sword of the Lictor (?) is thematically the Temptation
of Christ. Typhon holds Severian by the heel and Severian "crushes" Typhon's
head (Gen 3:15). But these roles occur because Typhon/Python/Set/Satan is
the serpent-enemy of the Sun (Apollo, Horus, Christ, etc.).

IMO Typhon's name is the strongest argument that he had something to do with
the dimming of Urth's sun since this would establish Typhon's and Severian's
relationship as Set and Horus.

But I don't see how Herod is thematically the enemy of the Sun. Herod the
Great maybe (the one who killed the infants in Bethlehem), but not the Herod
of the trial of Jesus. This Herod is curious about Jesus. He is vaguely
worried that he might John the Baptist resurrected, and he'd like to have
Jesus perform some miracles on command, but that's the extent of it. Just as
Pilate is suspicious of the Sanhedrin's motives for trying to get him
personally involved in Jesus' prosecution, Herod is suspicious of Pilate's
motives. Neither the Sanhedrin, nor Pilate, nor Herod, are good stand-ins as
the Devil. None wish to be openly identified as Jesus' executioners. All
three are in a crisis of choices over which they cannot freely act nor
(except for Herod) freely extricate themselves. None act with knowledge of
the full significance of their actions.

The thing is that Wolfe might have written the Herod-Typhon parallel for
reasons not directly connected to Typhon's name or even 'King Jesus'. For
example, in "Calde of the Long Sun", Silk and Loris have a conversation at
Blood's house that parallels Jesus' and Pilate's. Why? Loris and his cousins
take many other thematic roles in the Long Sun as serpent-enemies, but I
have trouble connecting any of these roles to Pilate.

So, does Typhon's Herodian similarities mean that he has the same
relationship to Severian as Herod did to Jesus in 'King Jesus'?
Is there a genuine Typhon-Herod connection even if it is only in 'King
Jesus'? Don's quote from 'King Jesus' had **Jesus** with a Typhonic beard,
not Herod.

I don't know of a Herod-Satan association. If there were one, then I'd be
much more prepared to accept Don's theories.

-- Crush


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