Typhon & Piaton some thoughts and questions

Wok the One Eyed

forgives everyone
Feb 28, 2007
zomg ræv!!! heaps ræv!!! heaps.

contains spoilers as well as some rambling thoughts.

I have been reading Gene Wolfe since the early 80’s and at the time didn’t have the benefit of the arphaweb to answer my idle questions, or even pose them. I recognised the name Typhon as being of Greek origin, but was never near a suitable reference work when I could recall the name. Piaton was a name I had never encountered.

The whole episode before the marvels of g00gle used to annoy me, being an obvious allegory. There seemed to be no need for the whole episode, there was not enough explanation of who this Typhon character is supposed to be. Add to that the lack of any further enquiry regarding such an amazing event by Severian, the whole episode seems unnecessary, merely smoke and mirrors to brush away the memory of little Severian, but then why not just have the alzabo kill the child?

The allegory is unmistakable, and (so I initially thought) a little clumsy. Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, like Severian, Jesus had been fasting, Satan told him to turn stones into bread to feed himself. Satan then challenged Jesus to throw himself from the top of the temple, some 450 foot, saying that God would save him. Satan then shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and promises them to him.

In keeping with this formula, Typhon also commands Severian to give up the claw and swear fealty to him.

At the end of the temptation episode, Jesus tells Satan to “begone”, and angels then ministered to his needs. Severian employed a more violent solution to his tempter, and had to make his own way down from the heights. The analogies are unmistakable and unlike the unholy communion of the alzabo, do nothing to move the story forward.
Later on in the book, Severian has a dream where the whole scene is played out again, benevolently this time with Master Malrubius (also named for a saint) and Triskele. Severian even wonders if the whole encounter with Typhon/Piaton was a dream.

New depths are revealed when one understands who Typhon and Piaton are. I am still considering the implications of Typhon the chthonic god of volcanoes being grafted onto the body of Piaton, an obscure saint.

Would it be safe to assume that Piaton was attempting to help Severian the whole time? Also, by killing Piaton his seeming ally, Severian destroys Typhon – what are the implications/meanings of this? Have I missed any references? Does any know what method of excruciation was used to martyr Saint Piaton?

(Perhaps they utilised the method we call two apricots? LOL)

your thoughts/comments?