Agilus

Why is Agilus wearing a death mask when Sev first sees him in the rag shop?

Perhaps: Part of the bait and switch tactic;

throwing the customer off-balance with a loud neck tie; jokingly responding in kind to what the A/A twins thought was an armiger in grim costume; buying time for Agia's quick change from "bait" to "soldier." Stuff like that. Those cunning A/A twins. There are lots of masks in the Book, and they are all related to some sort of deception, benign or otherwise, beyond that implied by the mask itself. Hence Agilus's could be a clue to the reader that some deception is about to take place... and when Agia appears masked (although we don't know it's her), it's a double clue. That's actually extraordinarily generous by Wolfe's standards.

Apropos of nothing, how come the ribbon still showed after Agilus took off his mask?

I always assumed it's because he had another mask on underneath.

The line in question: "The ribbons that held your mask," I said. "They're still there."

We are taking this as literal. But it can also be Severian's laconic way of saying, "Look, you are still play-acting as though I were not the simple torturer that I am." (Agilus is acting, but he doesn't really grasp that Severian is a genuine torturer--Agilus assumes Severian to be an armiger or armiger-wannabe in costume for a party.)

And it can be metaphorical, saying that Agilus's real face is as much another mask as Doctor Talos's face is that of a stuffed fox.

But it cannot be literally true that Agilus is wearing a second mask--since the face Severian sees looks like Agia and the face he will later see when Agilus is a prisoner in the cell. Or if Agilus is wearing a second mask, it is unusual in that it looks exactly like his face, which leads back into the laconic and metaphorical readings.

I'll vote for "literal." The ribbon is still in place when Agilus (now masked in iron) arrives to duel with Severian, whose "perfect memory" apparently fails him in the excitement. My guess is that the ribbon is tied loosely to the mask with knots which release at a tug.

Character Synopsis

Onomastics

Physical Description

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