Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Mors deliciarum III

Och så, en sista dödad darling:

Rabelais extended treatment, found in the hilarious third book of his series La vie de Gargantua et de Pantagruel (1546) is well known. In the midst of a long and erudite discussion between Panurge and Pantagruel regarding the advisability of marriage for the former the conversation turns to the sortes vergilianae; aussi par sors Virgilianes ont esté congneues anciennement et preveues choses insignes et cas de grande importance.

The passages from Historia Augusta are reviewed, and it sould be noted that Rabelais quotes no medieval instances, but says he has mille autres, thousand of other instances, and detailing one contemporary drawing of sortes. A friend of his, a brother in the Franciscan order, as was Rabelais, and also in trouble over his enthusiastic esteem for pagan literature, when divining if he should leave the order received the following line (3.44); heu fuge crudeles terras, fuge litus avarum, Polydorus advice to the fleeing Trojans, and promptly left.

After a brief discussion and digression on the wickedness of dice as omens of the future, the decision is made to combine the methods and by throw of the dice select the line on the randomly opened page of Virgil, and by using three dice they are given the number sixteen which points to the line 3.63 of the Eclogues; nec dues hunc mensa, dea nec dignata cubili est.

This verse does not please Pantagruel since he says it indicates that Panurge will be cuckold by his future wife, but the prospective groom believes it points to the opposite. A lengthy and amusing discussion follows, both using mythological examples, but they are finally forced to try the sortes again, this time with this result from the Aeneid(3.30): membra quatit gelidusque coit formidine sanguis.
This is seen by Pantagruel as evidence that the lady will batter his friend, bur Panurge sees himself as the violent one. In the third try the answer is once again given from the Aeneid (11.782); femineo praedae et spoliorum ardebat amore.

At which Pantagruel exclaims “Vous serez coqu, vous serez batu, vous serez desrobbé”, but once again Panugre has a more benign interpretation, explaining that this references the well known female practice of taking a token of clothing from the beloved. The friends then turn to other methods of divination to settle the question.

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