(urth) Sulpicius

Jason Willard funesmem6 at msn.com
Mon Oct 4 09:42:49 PDT 2004

Hello!  I've been lurking here for a while:  but as most here have re-read all of Wolfe _at least_ once, whereas I've only read most of Wolfe _once_, (and my science skills are non-existent) I've been shy about writing.  But, I've just finished re-reading SotT and CotC and have been doing a lot of research.  A lot of it into dead ends, I'm sure.

But I was struck by the passage in Ultan's library about Sulpicius as well, and as there is/was a Sulpicius Severus (as well as another Sulpicius, a saint, with whom Sulpicius Severus, from my understanding, is confused), and as as Severian means a follower of Severus (although OED refers to "the Monophysite patriarch of Antioch (early 5th c.)"), I have thought for a while that there must be a connection between these two autarchs, Sulpicius and our hero Sev.  I have also wondered if Wolfe hasn't set up some elaborate verbal joke on the Pelagian heresy.  According to W2, 'Pelagian' is "a follower of Pelagius";  'pelagian' (little 'p') is either an adjective meaning "pelagic" ("the pelagic argosy sights land!") or a noun:  "A pelagic animal."  (Like an undine, or something bigger?)  Also, as the Oxford Classical Dictionary notes in its entry for Severus, Sulpicius, "In old age he seems to have passed through a period of Pelagianism."  Could it be said that Severian has passed through a similar period in his allegiance to Vodalus?

I'm also intent on reading (Time!  I need more Time!!!) Severus's history.  (Yes, he is, importantly, an influential writer, as Severian is.)  His history, again according to the OCD, is "a universal chronicle to AD 400 which is an important source for the history of 4th-cent. events ... The whole book is an interesting attempt to present a 'breviarium' of history from the Christian point of view:  it uses Christian chronographers ... but also pagan writers."  I'd be very surprised it Mr. Wolfe hasn't come across this work at some point.  Or, perhaps, this is yet another dead end.

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Roy C. Lackey<mailto:rclackey at stic.net> 
  To: urth<mailto:urth at urth.net> 
  Sent: Monday, October 04, 2004 1:38 AM
  Subject: (urth) Sulpicius

  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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