Monday, October 5, 2009

"Shadow", Chapter 10, Part 2

"Look here," she held up the brown book. "Here it says, 'It was the thought of Thalelaeus the Great that the democracy' - that means the People - 'desired to be ruled by some power superior to itself, and of Yrierix the Sage that the commonality would never permit one differing from themselves to hold high office. Notwithstanding this, each is called The Perfect Master.' "
Interesting that she has to explain what democracy means, and that she doesn't explain that it also means a form of government. I wonder how long democracy would have to be out of fashion before the word itself lost all meaning to everyone but historians? Thalelaeus and Yrieix (note - one "r") are both saints. Thalelaeus is also the name of a professor of law who wrote a Greek commentary on the Code of Justinian, and Yrieix was a chancellor (a word that used to mean a legal scribe, sometimes with judicial power) before converting to Christianity. Justinian ordered the uniform rewriting of Roman law, and he is also considered a saint by some Christians (not sure why, maybe for ordering the construction of the Hagia Sophia). So even within Wolfe's self-imposed restriction that he has to use names of saints, he uses the names of lawyers in a quote about government, and obliquely refers to a ruler and possible saint - crazy. When I write a sentence, I'm focusing on keeping the grammar correct enough to convey my one meaning. This quote is Thecla trying to explain that it's hard to tell who rules the Commonwealth, or what they'll do. It's also a little joke, because the Autarch actually does fulfill both requirements for a ruler (as you'll find out three books from now). The Perfect Master is probably a reference to a satguru of Hinduism. This is "an enlightened [sage] whose life's purpose is to guide initiated [disciples] along the spiritual path, the summation of which is the realization of the Self through realization of the God." Thecla's name means "glory to God," "fame of God," or "heavenly glory," and she is teaching Severian about "ancient knowledge," so she may be his satguru. Her name also fits her imposing beauty.

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