(urth) Agilus and Agia

aaron aaronsingleton at gmail.com
Wed May 1 10:21:16 PDT 2013

I think I have read somewhere about the stripes being face paint, thus
related to the jungle sorcerers.  I also agree that Agilus is portrayed as
a wearer of masks and as a result, is not to be trusted.  Perhaps this was
Sev's way of hinting about the twins' true nature.  It also makes me think
of the masks worn by the Hierodules.  I cannot remember if any of this was
covered in UotNS as it's been so long since I read it.  It is a book that
begs a re-read, and a much under-appreciated work of Wolfe's.  I do
remember it being dense and heavy at times.

On Wed, May 1, 2013 at 11:45 AM, DAVID STOCKHOFF <dstockhoff at verizon.net>wrote:

> I find those points difficult to argue with. I also had not considered the
> misericorde-Pelerine connection---it seems strong.
> It reminds me that one of the things that makes BNS hard to sort out is
> that Wolfe's archaisms can hide correspondences. If one woman has a
> stiletto or a rondel and another a misericorde, we think at first read that
> the author is merely being pedantic. But the symbolism of the misericorde
> cannot be set aside. Wolfe used that term for its precise meaning: mercy. Terminus
> Est is also a misericorde of sorts, but Severian is a kind of misericorde
> for Urth. Several characters seem to have an unhealthy fascination with
> death, in sharp contrast with Severian's professional demeanor; is it much
> surprise that Agila and Hethor end up together?
> I think Agilus is definitely intended to be read as a wearer of masks. The
> ribbons stay on because he keeps them on, ready to put on another mask at a
> moment's notice. He wears a mask (with the same ribbons) under his
> septentrion's helm---whether it's the same death's head mask or not---and
> this is of course a clue that it's him. The wearing of masks points to the
> warlocks. I don't think the ribbons need to be painted on---such behavior
> does not correlate with anything.
>   ------------------------------
>  *From:* Lee Berman <severiansola at hotmail.com>
> *To:* "urth at urth.net" <urth at urth.net>
> *Sent:* Wednesday, May 1, 2013 10:54 AM
> *Subject:* (urth) Agilus and Agia
> >aaron: I have always wondered about the ribbons above Agilus' ears,
> though. And
> >Borski's explanation doesn't satisfy.
> I don't remember Borski's explanation on the ribbons but I think there are
> a number
> of subtle hints to be found in the various attributes and acoutrements of
> these two.
> For example, Agia mentions inheriting a "misericorde" from her mother.
> This is a slim
> blade used for the purpose of battlefield mercy killings. This is enough
> for me to
> conclude that their mother was a Pelerine, though I'm sure not all would
> concur. For
> me these clues plus others help me place the twins within Severian's
> family tree.
> Agia is observed scratching out a depiction of a "jurupari". This is the
> name for a
> certain S.A. fish whose name translates to "demon eartheater" and also a
> S.A. mythical
> monster that swallows its human prey whole so that they think they are in
> a cave. I think
> this is a foreshadow of the man-ape cave to which Agia leads Severian and
> helps explain
> the enormous being Severian senses below it. (it connects to the Fish
> Mouth/Fomalhaut
> theme also)
> With regard to Agilus' apparently painted on head stripes, my best guess
> is that this
> foreshadows and connects to the face and body painting of the Jungle
> Sorcercers. They,
> like Agilus, use trickery in an attempt to take Terminus Est from Severian.
> Moreover these clues plus others (e.g. the black bean or seed) seem to
> connect these twins,
> like the Jungle Sorcerers, to an anti-New Sun cult which is likely
> connected to the
> megatherians curently ruling Urth. As the caloyer of Saltus tells us, such
> beings will
> be swept away by the coming of the New Sun. Agia and Agilus are part of a
> series of traps
> or tests which have been set for Severian to encounter on his journey.
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Aaron Singleton
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