(urth) resurrecting a 2002 thread that posits an alternative lineage for Sev
severiansola at hotmail.com
Thu Oct 2 05:37:29 PDT 2014
>On Wed, Oct 1, 2014 at 7:35 AM, David Stockhoff <dstockhoff at verizon.net> wrote:
>I agree. Marc's position has a point, in that incest which is neither intended nor known can't
>be much of a symbol.
I disagree. For me, what is being missed is that the incest taboo applies to human beings. But for the
pagan gods, incest was the norm and sexual activity outside the family, (with humans) was the
more shameful act.
The origin of these incestuous god myths may well derive from the incestuous dynasties which ruled
the Mediterranean empires. The principle remains the same: it is morally proper for superior beings
to only mate among themselves and not with the rabble of humanity. (hence Apheta's distaste at
having to mate with Severian).
Severian is a (pagan) god. He has a presentiment of it at the beginning of his story but by the end
of Citadel, we are meant to understand that he was The Conciliator and he will be The New Sun.
By the end of Urth of the New Sun we also understand that in addition to his superhuman healing
powers, he was also worshipped as Apu Punchau, he can breathe underwater, he can travel through time
he is immortal (though not invulnerable), and at the very end he once again finds himself worshipped as
The first person style of narrative is a strong temptation for the reader to put him/herself into Severian's
shoes and to think "he is like me". Just like Severian we have all had our share of life's ups and downs and
we all sometimes think "why me?" when something unusual happens to us. During the course of the story
Severian never really acknowledges the constellation of god features he possesses. So it is easy for the
reader to follow along and also think of Severian as a normal human, though clearly he is not.
Oedipus plucked his eyes out on finding out about his incestuous marriage to his mother. Severian seems
to harbor no level of guilt which even approaches that. As I see it, Severian's incest does carry a large
symbolic burden. It, among many other things, helps establish his essential pagan godhood.
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