(urth) Spring Wind

James Wynn crushtv at gmail.com
Mon Sep 27 08:21:32 PDT 2010

>> Me-
>> while I agree
>> that there is an intended to connection between Spring Wind and Mars--
>> the connection between the terms March and Spring Wind is not nearly so
>> sweet as the alias for Juno and Rhea. The name has been retrofitted,
>> presumably for another purpose.[snip]
>> When I read all the names together, it tells me that Spring Wind is the
>> odd man out. There are other features of the story of Romulus's birth
>> that don't quite fit either. One must ask...why not?
> Andrew Mason-
> I think March is quite strongly associated with winds ('March winds,
> April showers..'). Given the need to find a name for Mars which isn't
> _too_ obvious, and fits in with 'Early Summer' and 'Bird of the Wood',
> it doesn't seem too suprising to me.

Let me try to deconstruct just how much worse "Spring Wind=Mars" is than 
the other two. June is ACTUALLY named after Juno and, assuming you 
didn't have a parallel month, it could be literally translated "Early 
Summer". Rhea Silvia could reasonably be literally translated Bird of 
the Woods. The bird in question was ACTUALLY named for the goddess.

March comes in the Spring. That's it. It's sometimes described as a 
windy month? Okay. But the name "Mars" is not in any way associated with 
the WINDS of March. The character's name was not Windy Time or Early 
Spring. It is Spring Wind. "WIND" is the relevant cognate. "Spring" is 
the qualifier. In contrast to Juno and Rhea, Mars' alias sucks.

For Typhon, Wolfe could have logically gone with Great Wind (Chinese 
"taifeng"). After all, typhoons come in Autumn as well. That would have 
worked. But, as you pointed out Wolfe, wanted the name to be connected 
to Mars. Thus "Spring Wind". Very nicely done.

>> Once again, Shere Khan to smilodon is a pretty tight fit. A god to
>> /merely/ someone on another planet? Particularly in a science fiction
>> story? Not so tight.
> Not merely someone on another planet, but the son of the ruler of that
> planet. And in any case, I don't think the word 'planet' is used; it's
> a mountain beyond the shores of Urth, which to me conveys a sense of
> mystery. During the first empire, when people were jumping between the
> stars all the time, perhaps another planet wouldn't convey this sense
> (though at that time, if we can trust Cyriaca, they weren't interested
> in mythology anyway). But at a later period, where contact with other
> planets isn't a regular thing, why not?

  In mythology, "mountain" typically refers to the heavens overhead. 
Same with "tree" (which Wolfe refers to in Quetzal's story about Al Lah 
and Aman). Anyway, Severian seems to strongly imply to Little Severian 
that the mountain is another planet (a great rock in the heavens), 
unless you think Hethor's slug came from another dimension.

>> The Story of Frog is in chapters 17-19.
>> That's a lot of space given to a lark. And as a pure free associating
>> confabulation of myth and literature, it's not an especially good lark.
> I don't see it as just a lark. I am happy with the idea that it has
> application to the events in the books; what worries me is the idea of
> it as an encoded representation of those events, from which it's
> possible actually to reconstruct them. We can't know in advance which
> bits of it relate to events in the books and which don't - I can't
> believe (and I don't think you're saying) that _everything_ in it is
> an elaborate allegory of Typhon, so we have to guess at which bits
> apply to him (or Severian, or whoever).

No. This is an elaborate, rather occulted, _telling_ (not allegory) of 
the deeds of the SON of Typhon. How do the sons of Typhon relate to 
Severian? That's for the reader to figure out.

I have no doubt in my mind that if Wolfe had written out  this story in 
plain terms, we would see a cognate for every little thing in story. 
Because, essentially, the story is "true" even if Wolfe didn't bother 
detail every little bit. I think it is impossible to divine (from this 
particular novel) things like Spring Wind's mother's real name or that 
of Bird of the Woods. Nor the name of the planet where Typhon was born. 
That's not the point. Bird of the Woods is a straightforward translation 
of the name of the mother of Romulus and Remus and her role is no more 
significant than Rhea Silvia's.

HOWEVER that doesn't mean there wasn't a such a person as Bird of the 
Woods whose circumstances were fundamentally as described. The tone of 
the actual events would be different however, than the telling. I 
reiterate: this is NOT a retelling of the story of Romulus and Remus. 
Nor is it Kipling's Jungle Book story. Romulus kills his brother. It was 
not his followers who killed him. And Mowgli had no brother. The 
mythological elements that the reader can easily recognize merely 
confirms that the mythology is "true" as well. We recently discussed the 
Emerald Tablet here.

"2. That which is below is like that which is above that which is above 
is like that which is below ."

That concept is a subtle backdrop that reappears in Wolfe's fiction. Or 
as Green put it in "There Are Doors":

> I like the idea of these very ancient stories, going so far back that
> their origin is lost - where we, the readers, can see their origin,
> and also see how time has changed them. I think it would spoil them
> rather to link them too closely to actual events in future history.
> (In the same way I don't like the thought that Holy Katharine is an
> actual character in the history of the Commonwealth; I think she is
> the Catherine of Christian legend, her story having been preserved and
> changed.)

Well, that's a philosophical issue. I can't convince you to change your 

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