(urth) Cumaeans

David Stockhoff dstockhoff at verizon.net
Sat Feb 7 06:29:39 PST 2009

You're right:

*As he spoke, something shaped itself in shining air above the
open pages. It was neither a woman nor a butterfly, but it partook of both,
and just as we know when we look at the painted figure of a mountain in the
background of some picture that it is in reality as huge as an island, so I
knew that I saw the thing only from far off---its wings beat, I think, against the
proton winds of space, and all Urth might have been a mote disturbed by their
motion. Then as I had seen it, so it saw me, much as the androgyne a moment
before had seen the swirls and loops of writing on the steel through his
glass. It paused and turned to me and opened its wings that I might observe them.
They were marked with eyes.*


Message: 3
Date: Fri, 6 Feb 2009 12:53:00 -0500
From: b sharp <bsharporflat at hotmail.com>
Subject: (urth) Cumaeans
To: <urth at urth.net>
Message-ID: <COL109-W96E92BFD70636B56D876AD7C10 at phx.gbl>
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I thought the winged creature in the book was more angelic-looking than lepidopterous. 
I really don't remember it being "toothy".  There was a predatory butterfly sort of creature
Severian encounters on Tzadkiel's ship. Perhaps there was a mix-up of these two?
I am of the view that Father Inire, as an ancient god of the arts (Apollo)/alien analog, 
appears in various guises throughout the story, mostly as monkeys or monkey-like and/or 
artsy human characters such as Fechin, Isangoma, the boatman, the cowled cenobite, the masked
jungle guide and perhaps Rudesind.
If the Cumaean is Inire's fellow analog, ancient god of medicine/alien I expect her also to have
an animal alter ego and to appear in other guises. Aside from an incidental snake here and there,
her most likely alter egos would be the old leech/pedophile and Ceryx as they are all obsessed with 
raising the dead. Her attraction to young men could be a parallel to Inire's obsession with young
women. (so many greek gods seemed to share the same sort of pedophilia)
Moreover the mythical Cumaean Sybil had requested long life (1000 years) from Apollo in exchange for
her virginity (when she reneged on the deal, he let her live but shrivel). Apollo is, of course, also 
associated with prophesy. Also, Ceryx means "herald" and the Cumaean Sybil was known as an early 
herald of Christ.

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