(urth) Thecla's genealogy folio

Rex Lycanthrosaurus lycanthrosaurus at fastmail.fm
Fri Oct 6 20:59:26 PDT 2006

Roy Lackey writes:

>Three of the books, as I outlined in my previous post, concern the Conciliator to a greater or lesser degree, so they necessarily have something to do with Severian. It's the folio with the genealogical charts that bugs me. I suppose I could fall back to the position that, since Severian comes to possess Thecla's memories and personality, anything that was important to her had something to do with him, but that's too easy and I can't make myself believe that's all there is to it. No, I think that Wolfe is suggesting that Severian and Thecla are blood relatives.<
>All of the attempts to link the two that I am aware of have speculated that they share a common parent, one that appears on stage in NEW SUN or is at least mentioned, however obliquely; that or they are related by someone only a generation or two removed from them. Maybe so, but I have yet to be convinced.<

Meh. As far as I'm concerned, we can not even begin to address any
possible genealogical connection between Severian and Thecla until we
riddle out at least some of the latter's bloodline. Unfortunately, as we
all know, she has only one named relative: half-sister Thea. This in
itself makes the problem somewhat more complex since we must now try to
figure out whether the parent Thecla and Thea share is their mother or
father. Since I have no idea who the father(s) might be, I will instead
attempt to pinpoint a possible candidate for mother--in my scheme the
one parent both siblings share.

First, some basics. Thea and Thecla are exultants; it therefore seems
likely at least one of their parents is an exultant. If it's their
mother, she may be part of the autarch's seraglio of hostages--we do,
after all, learn that Thecla is a member of the powerful northern clan;
ergo, her mother's possible confinement at the Well of Orchids. Plus she
must also be older. This, by far, eliminates many of the Chatelaines we
meet or hear of in the narrative; most are contemporaries of the two
half-sisters. (E.g., Domnina, Josepha, and the non-khaibit versions of
Barbea and Gracia). Many of the other female exultants we meet are
members of the Pelerines, who are celebate, and therefore also excluded.
Among those remaining, who may be old enough and receive mention, I
include the following: Leocadia, Nympha, and Lelia. But is there
anything to connect any of these three exultant women to Thecla?

There, in fact, is, and the connection may be a tip of the hat to one of
the writers Wolfe claims to admire: the Russian emigré Vladimir Nabokov,
who was as reknown in Lepidopteran circles as he was in literature.
Thecla, of course, as mantis's LU reminds us, is a genus of delicately
colored butterflies, the hairstreaks. But what those of us who've
collected butterflies in our youth also may or may not remember is that
there's a butterfly named Empress Lelia--a rather unlikely coincidence
in my opinion. So is it possible that the two exultants are mother and
daughter? Thecla, we remember, has been prophesized to someday occupy
the throne--who better than someone who's the daughter of an "Empress"?
'Thecla' and 'Lelia' also observe Borski's cryptonymic association and
there is an orchid named after the same Roman gens from whence Lelia
derives. It seems equally apt that the name Lelia occurs only once and
the end of a somewhat Byzantine and bizarre sentence; Wolfe, I believe,
is particularly deceitful in this manner. And look exactly how her
mention reads: "[Hethor] clutched his cap (reminding me of the morning
when he had found me camping on the grass by Ctesiphon's Cross) and
said, "I am the slave of my master, far-traveled, m-m-map-worn Hethor am
I, dust-choked and doubly deserted," looking at me all the while with
bright, deranged eyes, like one of the Chatelaine Lelia's hairless rats,
rats that ran in circles and bit their own tails when one clapped one's
hands." The rat biting its tail seems a castration image and may support
the notion that the penultimate autarch is Thecla's father.

But as for how Lelia and someone from Severian's family are related, I
know not. Perhaps all of the 1,492 Exulted Families derive from a single
remote ancestor--the same way all of us are descended from King Arthur.
They are, as Jonas tells us, the most recent to arrive on Urth and thus
may not be as genetically diverse as the general populace, especially if
prone to intermarriage.
  Rex Lycanthrosaurus
  lycanthrosaurus at fastmail.fm

http://www.fastmail.fm - I mean, what is it about a decent email service?

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