(urth) Fuligin?

Jeffery Wilson clueland.com jwilson at clueland.com
Wed Jul 16 08:47:17 PDT 2014

On 7/16/2014 8:59 AM, Mo Holkar wrote:
> Hydrargyrum is the Latinized Greek name for mercury, hence its chemical
> symbol Hg. The 'gyr' is just part of 'argyros', Greek for silver.
> My understanding is that everything described about this liquid in the
> text is satisfied by mercury, so there seems no reason to consider it to
> be anything different.
> It's not the same (it seems to me) as where he calls a riding beast by
> the name of a prehistoric animal and so we must understand it's not that
> animal and nor is it a horse. Hydrargyrum is not an ancient substance
> predecessor to mercury; it's an archaic name for precisely contemporary
> mercury.

G.W. says, "Latin is once or twice employed to indicate that 
inscriptions and the like are in a language Severian appears to consider 
obsolete. What the actual language may have been, I cannot say."

In 3.37, it is writ, "Whatever had occurred, the mace was gone, and I 
held in my hands only the sword's hilt, from which protruded less than a 
cubit of shattered metal. The hydrargyrum that had labored so long in 
the darkness there ran from it now in silver tears."

If this substance is mercury, as known to the ancient Greeks and 
popularized in current science and left in dangerous quantities from the 
mid 20th century peak of its production and use, and suitable for 
Galilean vacuums, mercury switches, and driving hatters mad, it seems 
odd that there would be no current word for it encountered by Severian.

Jeff Wilson - < jwilson at clueland.com >
A&M Texarkana Computational Intelligence Lab
< http://www.tamut.edu/cil >

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