(urth) Short Sun blog

Lee Berman severiansola at hotmail.com
Fri Sep 24 23:40:42 PDT 2010

Some interesting thoughts being thrown around about these characters.
Typhon not only refers to Urth as "this world" a couple times, he also
calls the sun "this sun". Not proof positive but to me he really doesn't 
talk like a native. Then there is his name. In origin, it seems 
closer to Erebus than any other character. If Erebus has an Urthly, human 
origin I could see the same argument for Typhon. If not, not.  I think the 
naming similarity locks these two characters together in origin and essence, 
whatever they may be.
Has been posted more than once before but maybe okay to do it again. In the 
McCaffrey interview Wolfe says:
I also gave the people and other beings in the book real names ( "Severian," 
"Vodalus," and "Agilus," for example, are all ordinary, if now uncommon, names 
for men.....As for the monsters' names, I simply named them for monsters.
Someone earlier noted that Baldanders' name implies a milder form of monstrosity 
and I agree. The original protean meaning is of a being who is transforming, "soon
to be another". I can see him, perhaps, as being originally human, but changing 
into a monster. But the names Erebus and Typhon convey essential monstrosity for 
>David Stockhoff- Wolfe gives us no hints whatsoever about the source of any 
>mental powers Typhon might have---he doesn't need to, because Typhon doesn't 
>particularly have any. But we know that mental powers are possible (Mucor, 
>the Mandragora), 
Typhon could have taken Severian to the mountaintop to access ESP machinery
but seems to me his primary goal was to take Severian to where there was food. 
Severian hears Typhon use a word of power to command the flyer but he doesn't
hear anything similar as Typhon looks all the way to the battle at Orithiya 
and forces Severian to see through his own eyes.
I think Mucor is a very relevant name to bring up here. She is human in origin but has 
superhuman, even god-like powers of projection and human possesion. But perhaps because 
she is human in origin (like Baldanders?), she can't be given a greek mythological name 
like the other gods (I think it is more than just that she isn't part of Pas' family). 
She is Vironese but she doesn't get a plant name, perhaps because she isn't really human. 
So she  ends up with a name from a different biological Kingdom, mucor being a sort of 
fungal mold. Foul, parasitic and always intruding where it isn't wanted.
The Mandragora has been mentioned already. He has a rather authoritarian personality
(given his circumstances) and his almost successful attempt to manipulate Severian via 
the Thecla portion of his mind might associate him with Typhon as I think his telepathy 
and clairvoyance and name do.
Dave Tallman asks: 
>Why would a clone of Typhon be stored in the Autarch's visiting room?
Well, Severian does list the Mandragora among the "treasures" of the room.
Wikipedia says- 
>Mandragoras are thought to be little dolls or figures given to sorcerers by the 
>Devil for the purpose of being consulted by them in time of need;
Devil, hm...Anyway, I can imagine an autarch (or the "sorcerer" ruling behind the autarch) 
finding an advisory use for a helpless being with the power of clairvoyance. 
Dave also asks:
>Why did the Mandragora ask about a memory of Severian being in a basket as a child?
>My theory is that the Mandragora is a spare clone brother of Severian himself. Two 
>clone embyros could have been transported downriver in a basket to the Citadel (possibly 
>by the Cyriaca of the previous iteration) and sent back in time to be implanted in Catherine.
Another fantastical theory to explain this could be based on  Dorcas having a basket ("not small
yet not large either") with her as she mourns the boatman. Perhaps Severian impregnated her with 
himself, and some time travel trick ensued.
Also regarding the screaming baby memory, Severian says he remembers being "encircled by brown walls". 
I think the Matachin Tower cells have walls of gray. Typhon's room is circular but has shiny metal
I really don't have anything close to a good answer for this one. Maybe someone else does.


More information about the Urth mailing list