(urth) Newbie - a theory and some questions.

maru marudubshinki at gmail.com
Sat Mar 19 20:57:36 PST 2005

Andrew Kertesz wrote:

> First, my theory – one that revolves around the issue of Agilus’ mask. 
> It’s nothing groundbreaking, and forgive me if this one has already 
> been floated, but I’m comparatively new to this ;)
> We know that the Cacogens are not a single, unified, race – for 
> example, the Heirodules Ossipago, Barbatus and Famulimus are 
> described, in Sword of the Lictor, as quite different from one annother:
> “One, if he had been truly a human being, would have been short and 
> stout. The other two were a good head taller than I, as tall as 
> exultants… The masks all three wore gave them the faces of refined men 
> of middle age, thoughtful and poised; but I was aware that the eyes 
> that looked out through the slits in the masks of the two taller 
> figures were larger than human eyes, and that the shorter figure had 
> no eyes at all, so that only darkness was visible there.”
> There are other references in the series which refer to the Cacogens 
> as “races from beyond the stars” – none of which I can find on a quick 
> flip through.
> If we accept that the Cacogens are not identical, or even unified, 
> then why not assume that Agilus is a member of another “race” of 
> Cacogen? It is possible that he differs from the three Heirodules (in 
> that his disguise is more efficient, his motives more opaque, and his 
> nature less trustworthy), yet is in other ways, similar to them. Like 
> Ossipago et. al, he wears a series of masks (as the "black ribbon" 
> indicates). However, he appears to wear his masks in a different fashion…
> The Heirodules wear, firstly, a “human” mask, which conceals a 
> monstrous mask, which, in turn, conceals their true (super) humanity. 
> On the other hand, when Severian fist meets Agilus, the shopkeeper 
> wears a death’s mask, which conceals a face identical to Agia’s.
> A pattern could be imposed on this:
> The Heirodules wear:
> 1)Human mask
> 2)Inhuman mask
> 3)Human face
> Agilus wears:
> 1)Inhuman mask
> 2)Human mask
> 3)?
> I think that Agilus’ “Agia” face conceals his true, inhuman face – 
> and, in this way, he is an inverse of the Heirodules - an 
> anti-Heirodule, if you will. In keeping with this, his role in the 
> narrative seems to be a negative one, or at least antagonistic.
> I don’t know how one could expand on this theory though… Is Agilus 
> openly against the New Sun (it seems like his sister is – but is she a 
> Cacogen too?) or is he merely a bystander who becomes caught up in the 
> story? I’m not sure, but I think the general conceit of the theory is 
> neat, at least.
Sounds like Raynor would like to chat wi' you : )

But seriously, if Agilus was a cacogen, and one that was opposed to the 
New Sun, wouldn't he be
associated with Typhon and the magicians with claws
(Side note: I actually own a pair of those weapons.
Wolfe doesn't mention that their primary use these days is for climbing 
vertically (usually paired with
a set for the feet as well.) not self-defense, though I understand the 
ninja made heavy use of shuko.
This suggests an interesting thought to me: the cosmogony is up=good, 
and the magicians seek
to gain power by putting the New Sun, thereby rising. Or climbing. Hmm....
But if you want to use them, you really gotta add padding. End digression.)
, since if he is indeed a anti-cacogen (insofar only as his goals are 
different. I don't think he would be a
creature even lower than Urthians. Doesn't seem fitting somehow) his 
goals would coincide with
the two previously mentioned groups.

Further, one would expect his execution by Severian to be fraught with 
significance, or at least far deeper
than meets the eye. Now, I'm not particularly sharp in that arena (I am 
told I missed essentially everything
in the BotLS) so take my words with some salt, but I saw no more than 
the usual human drama in it.

Finally, if your ideas hold up, Agilus would almost have to be a 
loathsome creature below humanity and far
below the cacogens we see directly, since the cacogens original mask 
though a lie, ironically turns out to
be the truth; by analogy, the 'inhuman' mask of Agilus would 'ironically 
turns out to be the truth', making hime


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