(urth) Lake of Birds

Bruno de Albuquerque Furtado meuemaildobruno at gmail.com
Sun May 20 16:53:21 PDT 2012

Personally, I tend to agree with Dave Lebling, in that the Cumaean is the
Sibyl of Cumae. Gerry's claim that, if the old witch was alive in ancient
Rome, she wouldn't really need her "friend" in Formalhaut, is very
compelling. It is not required, though, that the Cumaean be continuously
alive since antiquity, in order for her to be the Sibyl. If the Botanic
Gardens function as a gateway in space-time, the witch could simply pass
from antiquity to the very far future without needing to be alive all this
time. Therefore she might have "missed" the Apu-Punchau period, and not be
able to raise him. It is also possible that, since Severian was probably
the "real" inspiration behind the Incan god Inti, he might have become
Apu-Punchau in a mythological age much earlier than the beginning of the
Incan empire, and therefore maybe even before ancient Rome.

As of Severian's relation with the Cumaean, I'm inclined to believe that it
goes deeper than the obvious. First, because she is clearly one of the
witches from the Witches' Tower, and therefore belonged to what seems to be
the guild closest to the torturers in the citadel, if that indeed is a
guild at all, which I doubt. Second, because although Severian is obviously
a Christ figure, he is also a Sun God, what with his being a sun, taking
power from a sun, and all that. He may be particularly identifiable as
Apollo, for his good looks, sexual appetite, healing powers, and love of
tales. I also seem to remember something about the torturers apprentices
having sex with the witches, though I don't recall where it was written.
But not Severian. He did have a strange encounter with the witches, while
still an apprentice, but it was not sexual. All that resonates beautifully
with the legend about the Cumean Sibyl, in which Apollo gives her longevity
in exchange for sex, but withholds youth when the prophetess refuses to
sleep with him, eventually making it necessary for her to live in a jar, on
account of her withered body. Didn't the Mandragora say that it was the
Autarch who created it?
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