(urth) Sulpicius

Roy C. Lackey rclackey at stic.net
Sun Oct 3 23:38:26 PDT 2004

In the early hours of Severian's autarchy he was told by the aquastor
Malrubius that his immediate predecessor,  the Old Autarch Appian, had been
the only ruler since the first autarch, Ymar, to represent Urth at trial in
Yesod. (IV, p.214)

At another time, when Sev was trying to recall something, he began "to
search those veiled lives that lie behind the last, memories that I have
scarcely mentioned in this narrative, that dim as they grow stranger and
stretch backwards, perhaps, to Ymar, and behind Ymar to the Age of Myth."
(V, p.294)

I am interested here only in the thousand years between Ymar and Appian.
Appian, just before his death, told Sev that he contained "hundreds of
personalities. . . .We are many lives." (IV, p.202)

Now to my point: Ultan spoke to Sev of ". . . the room we of the library
have maintained for three hundred years against the return of the Autarch
Sulpicius (and into which, in consequence, no one ever comes) . . ." (I,

So, where did he go? Elsewhere on Urth? Off planet? The Corridors of Time?
We know from the above that he didn't go to Yesod. The only things that are
clear are that when he left he was autarch and that he didn't come back. Had
he come back, there would have been no point in preserving the room for
three centuries and, anyway, he should have been long dead. In any event,
the autarchy survived him. Even if we posit that he just disappeared
inexplicably, dead or alive, how was the chain of autarchial succession
maintained and, more importantly, the seemingly unbroken links of memories
that stretched from Ymar to Sev?

It would be easiest to assume that Wolfe just screwed up somewhere, but I
doubt that he did. Of the relatively few things that Ultan might have said
or did say in his only scene in the Urth Cycle, why did Wolfe put those
words in his mouth? It doesn't serve the larger plot in any way that I can
see, but G.W. must have had an answer. I don't.


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