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From: danrabin@A.crl.com (Dan Rabin)
Subject: Vironese names, _talus_, and Quetzal-queztions
Date: Thu, 28 Nov 1996 19:49:27 

[Posted from Whorl, the mailing list for Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun]

About `Xiphias':  The scientific name for the swordfish is _Xiphias
gladius_.  `Gladius' is Latin for a short sword.

More on names:  Here's a relationship that Wolfe doesn't seem to do
anything with:  The Prolocutor's robe of office is dyed with mulberry, and
SILKworms eat mulberry leaves.

>Talus -- either an ankle bone or a sloping pile of debris.  I can't
>figure it out.  Any ideas?

It's probably a Latinized form of `Talos', as in Dr. Talos from _The Book
of the New Sun_.  Michael Andre-Driussi says in _Lexicon Urthus_ that
`Talos was the miraculous bronze (or brass) man who defended Crete for King
Minos by hurling stones or fire at strangers, or by scorching them in his
red-hot clasp.'  This sure sounds like a _Book of the Long Sun_ talus to

>'ishsh -- in Exodus, after Silk & Co have been captured by the
>Trivigauntis, they're waiting to be taken up to the airship as soon as
>they lower the "'ishsh."  What's that?

It's probably the bird-cage-like hoist that the airship lowers to bring
passengers and goods aboard.  I don't know whether the Trivigaunti terms
are intended to come from some known Earth language.  There is also an
issue of whether the word is a local Trivigaunti term used in the Common
Language, or whether it comes from the local aristocratic language which is
Siyuf's mother tongue.

>Incus -- a bone in the inner ear.  (Patera Jerboa thought it might be
>some kind of creature that sneaks around stealing eggs from nests.  (A
>jerboa is a leaping rodent with a long tail.))

It's Latin for `anvil' as well.

I thought it was amusing that all the members of the Ayuntamiento bear the
names of lower primates: Loris, Lemur, Potto, Galago, Tarsier.  Potto
comments on the fact that they're all related.

>How did Quetzal
>get on the Whorl, anyway?  Did he or one of his ancestors advise Pas
>back on Earth, telling them where to find a habitable planet?

I want to know that, and a lot more!  What motivated an inhumu to do the
good deeds that Quetzal did while also satisfying his need for blood?  Why
did he become Prolocutor?  Why did he proscribe human sacrifice?  Why did
he try to prevent theophanies?

There's also the question of the correspondence of Green to St. Anne in
_The Fifth Head of Cerberus_.  That's the planet with the shape-shifting
aboriginal race that might or might not have imitated humans.

Wolfe remarks in an interview that he regards _The Book of the New Sun_ as
happening in the remote past, but I don't know what this means for the
relative timing of the Whorl's arrival and the events of _Fifth Head_.

  -- Dan Rabin

Whorl Web: http://moonmilk.volcano.org/whorl/
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