(urth) Two (hopefully) quick questions

thalassocrat at nym.hush.com thalassocrat at nym.hush.com
Sat Jan 5 00:55:32 PST 2008

On Sat, 05 Jan 2008 07:49:23 +1100 Eric Ortlund 
<eortlund at briercrest.ca> wrote:
>1) When Severian meets Dr. Talos toward the end of Citadel, he 
>goes out
>of his way to emphasize to the reader that the coin Dr. Talos 
>gives him
>is the same kind as that which was given to him by Vodalus.  This 
>the feel (to me, anyway) of one of those Wolfian epiphanies which 
>implied but which is supposed to break over the reader . . . but 
>I'm not
>being epi-phanized.  What is the point of emphasizing that the two 

>are the same?  That Vodalus and Baldanders are both bad guys - 
>both in
>league with Abaia?  That seem the most obvious inference to me, 
>but the
>reader knows that already; that doesn't need to be emphasized.  
>That Dr.
>Talos is trying to draw Severian into his own cause, just as 
>Vodalus did
>with his coin?  That Baldanders and Vodalus are somehow in league 
>each other?  All of the answers I come up with fail to match the 
>size of
>the epiphany I think is being suggested.  (I've been trolling 
>old posts, but can't find anything about this.)

Remember that Sev saving Vodalus is the key event in the whole 
story: without it, nothing else would have followed. So says Sev; 
and this is why he starts with it. 

In his recounting of it, Sev identifies taking Vodalus' coin with a 
soldier taking the "King's shilling", the formality which binds the 
soldier's loyalty. Taking it, Sev becomes a "Vodalarius". So on one 
level, I think, the falsity of the coin points to the falsity of 
Vodalus' cause. And also to the essentially false basis for the 
loyalty, which of course didn't last. 

Finally, given my "Sev2 as cosmic error" reading, I also take it as 
a little marker that the event itself was "false" in that sense.

I don't think it's supposed to uncover any particular plot element, 
though. Vodalus I guess hands out fake coins both to save money and 
also as a little attack on the soundness of the Commonwealth. We 
know that he has spies watching Sev and Dr Talos' troupe, so no big 
surprise if one those spies was in the audience & dropped a fake 
chrisos while fleeing from Baldanders.

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