(urth) Domnicellae

b sharp bsharporflat at hotmail.com
Wed May 31 04:33:44 PDT 2006

Roy, good point. I think this is another example of Wolfe misleading us.  
And when he misleads us it is always to mask an important fact. In fact, 
noticing this deception was a big part of establishing Rule 2a. for me. (the 
mysterious relationship between Pelagia-Pega and Robert Borski's puzzlement 
over Josephina-Josepha were the others).

I don't have my books but I think I remember accurately.  When Severian 
first meets the Pelerines one of the acolytes or slaves objects to the tall 
leader "but, Domnicellae!"  Severian (and I until recently) thinks this is 
her title (as the "Domni- prefix might suggest) and later, thinking Cyriaca 
is a Pelerine, begs her for forgiveness, "shrive, me Domnicellae".  Cyriaca 
thinks this is a very clever and hilarious joke for a fellow masquerader, a 
faux torturer no less, to call her by the name of the leader of the 

In the Lazaret at Orithya (Oritheya? sheesh, sorry can't remember), one of 
the Pelerines mentions that "our Domnicellae isn't here" or something like 
that.  Again sounds like a title, but it could be a term of endearment among 
sisters.  Like, "however, our Mannea is here".

Later, though, Cyriaca makes it clear that the title of the leader of the 
Pelerines is The Mother.  Merryn also uses this term for the leader of the 
very closely related sisterhood, the Witches.  I think Cyriaca is first 
drawn to Severian (in small part) because of his cleverness.   He doesn't 
just say "shrive me, Mother" as a less clever jokester would do.  Cyriaca 
hasn't been a  Pelerine for a long time but she has stayed in touch.  She 
would know the personal name of The Mother.

Now, it could be assumed that Josepha is just a nickname for Josephina and 
Domnina the same for Domnicellae. I think this is why Wolfe included Pega 
and Pelagia in Urth, a book meant in part (I think), to clarify some of the 
puzzles in BotNS that Wolfe finally had to admit he made too difficult or 
vague to ever solve.

I'm sure there are those who would object that this is all conjecture. That 
they could just be nicknames and Pega-Pelagia is just a coincidence and that 
Domnicellae and The Mother are both titles for the leader, nullifying Rule 
2a.  For me the problem is this:  we are left with no names for any kaibits.

If the kaibits were comatose in tanks, hidden in some closet for the 
exultant women to go in and get their daily fix then I could understand 
their lack of names. But kaibits are living as regular people and 
interacting (more or less, lol) normally with other people including their 
mistress/cell donor. Thus they need their own names.  If someone has a 
better naming rule or list for kaibits then I am interested in hearing it.  
But this one seems to work pretty well and the option of leaving them 
nameless seems unacceptable.  Names are very important to Gene Wolfe.


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