(urth) Lake of Birds

Bruno de Albuquerque Furtado meuemaildobruno at gmail.com
Sun May 20 11:42:18 PDT 2012

"There are no Roman citizens wandering around after all, and the Romans did
not pick averns."

That is certainly true, but it could also be that Severian and the others
cannot see the Romans for the same reason that the missionaries in the
Jungle Garden couldn't really see Severian and Agia. Or maybe Severian
could see Roman citizens, just didn't tell us about them. If there were
actually more than one old boatman poling the lake, it could be that there
were more than two, and that some of them were actually Romans. As for
ancient Romans not picking averns, even though our primary sources about
ancient Rome are plentiful, we can never be sure. Anyway, those are all
only speculations.

"The pipe still has to have a purpose. Surely Wolfe did not include it
simply because he was worried his readers would complain if he didn't
explain the lake, nor to demonstrate the builders' skill in hydrology."

As little as I know about Wolfe, I feel you must be right. But maybe the
pipe's purpose is only to give Juturna a way into the Lake, although I
think it would be very much like Wolfe to give us such an early clue about
the workings of time in Briah. It is obvious that he went to great lengths
to make his readers identify this part of the Botanic Gardens with Lake

"I want to add that the BNS Cumaean is old and creepy, while the Sibyl is
portrayed as young and beautiful, even if she is the oldest and least
beautiful of the Four Sibyls."

Right, but according to Wiki

[Cumean Sibyl] "Although she was a mortal, the Sibyl lived about a thousand
years. This came about when Apollo
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo> offered
to grant her a wish in exchange for her virginity; she took a handful of
sand and asked to live for as many years as the grains of sand she held.
Later, after she refused the god's love, he allowed her body to wither away
because she failed to ask for eternal
Her body grew smaller with age and eventually was kept in a jar (*ampulla*).
Eventually only her voice was left (*Metamorphoses* 14; compare the myth of
Tithonus <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tithonus>).[3]<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumaean_Sibyl#cite_note-2>

This calls to mind the Mandragora Severian finds in his suite in the
Citadel, around the final pages of TCotA. Also, when Severian meets the
witches in the Stone Town, the Cumean makes it clear she is quite old,
though not as old as the mind she reaches for.

"And then there is her serpentine appearance."

I can think of one reference to Greek mythology that could shed some light
on that appearance. It is said that the Sibyls are sisters, and, according
to Wikipedia:

[Delphic Sibyl] "The *Delphic Sibyl* was a legendary figure who made
prophecies in the sacred precinct of Apollo<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo>
 at Delphi <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delphi>, on the slopes of Mount
Parnassus <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Parnassus>. According to a
late source, her mother was
daughter of Poseidon.[1]<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delphic_Sibyl#cite_note-0>
[2] <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delphic_Sibyl#cite_note-1> "

So their mother is supposed to be Lamia who, in her turn, is identified
with snakes and prophecy.
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