(urth) Urth Digest, Vol 73, Issue 45

Roy C. Lackey rclackey at stic.net
Thu Sep 23 22:49:18 PDT 2010

Andrew Mason wrote:
> I has assumed that Typhon created the Empire - that seems to be
> Cyriaca's view (or that he tried to); that the ruler she's talking
> about is Typhon is supported by his bringing the books to the Citadel,
> which is explicitly ascribed to Typhon in _Urth_.

Yes, her story seems to link him to the library at the Citadel, and the
physician who looked in on Severian there after the "earthquake" lends that
some support. But Typhon had dreams of a Second Empire, as her tale
specifies. The First Empire had covered the whole galaxy and maybe others.
The old spaceships at the Citadel in Typhon's time were rusting relics of
any earlier wave of spacefare; the Citadel is even referred to then as the
"old port". Typhon evidently ruled some undetermined number of planets, some
of them probably outside of Urth's solar system, but such planets as he
ruled paled in comparison to the First Empire.

> But actually I agree with you; if it's just Typhon by himself,
> arriving from the stars and trying to stir up Urthians to an interest
> in them, there's no inconsistency. What worried me is the image some
> people have, I think, of Typhon as ruler of a galactic empire, with
> people coming and going all the time, which would leave it very
> puzzling what point there would be be in sending out a Whorl. Whereas
> I would argue that though _New Sun_  clearly says nothing about actual
> Whorls, it does paint a picture of Typhon as trying to recapture the
> long-lost stars, and sending out a once-for-all expedition to them.

I don't think anyone has claimed that Typhon ruled a galactic empire, and he
didn't. But it is also true that humans were already spread all over the
galaxy, at a minimum. As Apheta told Severian: "Because your race is
important to us. It would be far less laborious if we could deal with it all
at once, but you are sown over tens of thousands of worlds, and we cannot."
(URTH, chap. XIX, p-135)

Typhon's _Whorl_ expedition was more of a gesture than anything else, a
one-finger salute to the universe and a sop to his ego. It had absolutely
nothing to do with preserving the human race or spreading it around the

BTW, in another thread, it is true, as others have pointed out, that Typhon
was the first to carve one of those mountains into human likeness. When
Severian was taken to meet Typhon on the mountain, he stepped out of the
flier and saw: "All around us ragged, faceless peaks loomed through pent
clouds. We were among mountains, but mountains that had not yet put on the
carven likenesses of men and women--such unshaped mountains, then, as are to
be seen in the oldest pictures." (URTH, chap. XXXVIII, p- 271)


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