(urth) Catherine, Cyriaca and baby Severian

b sharp bsharporflat at hotmail.com
Fri Oct 20 06:44:25 PDT 2006

Regarding Catherine, Roy writes:

>I think it would be rather strange that the torture and death of a woman 
>who looked just like the >maid who annually played Holy Katharine would 
>have gone unnoticed and unmentioned by >Severian and every other member of 
>the guild. Besides, the torturers buried their "clients in the >lower 
>reaches of the necropolis". The woman whose body was taken by Vodalus was 
>buried >higher up the hill, among the statuary.

Apprentices routinely asked older journeymen about their parentage but were 
told little.  If Severian's mother had escaped from the torturers and then 
was returned 20 years later for execution  then we can be sure it would be 
kept secret, especially from Severian.  Severian doesn't recognize the woman 
in the coffin as a client.  Perhaps it was a private torture/execution 
conducted by Master Gurloes as directed by the voices he talks to at the top 
of the tower.

Is Roy is arguing that the woman in the coffin isn't a torture client 
because of where she is buried?  Are we to think that Thecla was buried down 
in the lower reaches of the necropolis?  Exultants were usually buried in 
private mausoleums.  Where would you bury an exultant who was missing for 20 
years then secretly tortured to death?  I think the upper level of the 
necropolis is a good compromise.

If Catherine did escape from the torturers, who helped her?  I'm tempted to 
say Palaemon.  It would explain why he was banished from the guild for a 
while and why he is so attached to Severian.  Roy's dratted time frame 
arguments stand in the way, unfortunately.  Winnoc says he was flogged by 
Journeyman Palaemon 30 years previously.  I don't think Severian is 30 and 
even using time travel and Path Of Air devices I can't make the scenario 
work.  I still like it, however ;-) so I woudn't mind if someone can make it 

on Cyriaca, Roy writes:

>I just don't see any text-based connection that links Cyriaca with the 
>twins, but there are some >things that weigh against a connection. Cyriaca 
>was apparently a postulant traveling in the >southern part of the country 
>with the Pelerines at her time of menarche. Sometime in her last >year with 
>them before making her final commitment, she ran away from the order (sound 
>familiar?) >and went home. The Pelerine outfit she wore to the archon's 
>party still fit her, so she must have >been full grown when she left the 
>order. So she must have spent several years with them.

Wolfe has made it clear that Thecla's four books are clues.  I consider 
Agia's four weapons to be parallel to that.  Two of them (athame and 
lucivee) connect her to the sorcerer's cult.  The other two I believe 
connect her to Cyriaca. They are the crooked blade of Thrax and the 
misericorde (battlefield mercy killing blade, a Pelerine tool I think).

Cyriaca says she could be Severian's mother if she conceived him a year or 
two after it was possible.  If Agia is a few years younger than Severian 
then Cyriaca conceiving twins soon after leaving the Pelerines is in the 
proper time frame.  Cyriaca left the Pelerines because she wanted to be with 
men so a pregnancy isn't surprising.
Cyriaca is currently used to being served by maids but she tells Severian 
she can dress hair and sew.  Perhaps she learned these skills as a postulant 
but it might suggest her high status was acquired later in life. If her home 
was Nessus, it can be imagined that an armiger visiting from Thrax "rescues" 
her from a dreary life as a used clothing shop girl and brings her north to 
his estate, only to treat her cruelly thereafter.  Borski has suggested 
Sieur Racho, who often visits Nessus, for this role.  Her baby twins are 
then left in Nessus to be raised by the shopowner, surrogate mother, 
Grandma, who later dies and bequeaths the shop to Agia and Agilus.  Being 
from a shopkeeper family of the optimate class, Cyriaca could have gained 
entrance to the Pelerines, as Ava did.  Cyriaca maintains a secret 
correspondence with a Pelerine friend.  Perhaps with her daughter also.

I think Roy makes a good argument for Severian not being born in the Citadel 
but rather arriving as a small child.  He worries about the nursing in a 
cell memory conflicting with the memory of playing with pebbles.   In a 
non-baby formula/baby food  society, it is likely a child would still be 
nursing at an age old enough to play with pebbles so I think those two 
memories are compatible.

I willl take issue with this statement:

>Early on, Severian said that his earliest recollection was of "piling 
>pebbles in the Old Yard." That >isn't true, and he knew it wasn't true when 
>he wrote it.

We know that Severian's memories are not actually perfect.  That may have 
been the earliest memory he had at that point in his life in the story.   He 
is able to add memories later in the story when properly stimulated (the 
mandragora and Thecla are very intrusive stimulations).  Severian manages to 
add a vague memory of his mother and nursing in a cell and feels elated, "at 
having reached back at last to her, after so many fruitless attempts."   
There is no mention of Severa in these added memories but I'll forever 
wonder about Thecla being added to his pebble piling memory.


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