Guido Reni & Tomas Luis de Victoria

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Guido Reni, Charity, 1604 – 1607 (Photo credit: WikiArt.org)

For Catholics, Charity is the most important of the three theological virtues: faith, hope, charity. The events of the past week brought the word charity to my mind. I faced several obstacles because I could not provide a credit card number.

But let us turn to Marian HymnologyGuido Reni‘s art and Tomás Luis de Victoria‘s compositions. We will call it a pause.

Marian Hymnology: Four Antiphons

By clicking on the titles below, you will be at Notre-Dame de Paris. On the left side of the page are the titles of the four Marian Antiphons. Choose the antiphon you wish to listen to. You will also be provided with the words.

Hermann der Lahme

Hermann der Lahme (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Extraordinary Hermann of Reichenau

The Salve Regina is one of the four Marian Antiphons. It was composed (Gregorian Chant) by Hermann of Reichenau (18 July 1013 – 24 September 1054) who was severely crippled and spent most of his brief life at the Benedictine Abbey of Reichenau. Hermann “the lame” became a monk. He was a scholar, a composer, a music theorist, a mathematician, an astronomer, and a linguist.

However, the composition, I have inserted at the foot of this post is not Gregorian chant, but a setting by prominent Spanish composer Tomás Luis de Victoria (c. 1548 – 27 August 1611) of the lyrics of the Salve Regina. It is a combination the French would call heureuse, happy.

Guido Reni

Guido Reni (4 November 1575 – 18 August 1642) was born in Bologna. He is a high Baroque artist remembered for his use of luminous colours. The painting shown above does not reveal this characteristic. It is somewhat and successfully monochromatic. His themes were biblical and mythological and therefore consistent with the subject-matter of painters of his era. The little children he depicted resemble puttibut putti (plural for putto) have wings.

Apprentice to Denis Calvaert: Franco-Flemish School

Reni was an apprentice to Flemish artist Denis Calvaert (1540 – 16 April 1619), often called Il Fiammingo due to his origins. In the very late Middle Ages, just prior to the Renaissance,[1] Flanders was the cultural hub of Europe. Adrian Willaert of the Franco-Flemish school taught music to students in Venice who were very gifted and whose love for music was exceptional. In turn, the Italians created the French Overture. It was introduced in France by composer Jean-Baptiste Lully, born Giovanni Battista Lulli. Lulli was also a dancer and choreographer who worked with French playwright Molière (1622 – 1673).

Early Recognition

Guido moved to Rome in 1601 and his first commission was an altarpiece of the Crucifixion of St. Peter. During this period of his life, Guido’s patron was Paolo Emilio Sfondrati (1560 – 14 February 1618). According to Britannica, Reni was later influenced by the novel naturalism of the Carracci, a family of artists: Annibale, Agostino and Ludovico.

Guido was soon recognized as a master. He was a painter to Pope Paul V (Borghese). We owe him many frescoes.­­

Guido’s Style: “serene”

According to Britannica,

The mood of his paintings is calm and serene, as are the studied softness of colour and form. [2]

Britannica also states that Guido’s compositional choices in 

Atalanta and Hippomenes” (1625) show his preference for gracefully posed figures that mirror antique ideals. [3] 

Hippomenes won the race dropping apples.

Atalanta and Hippomenes

Atalanta and Hippomenes, 1625 (Photo credit: WikiArt.org)

The Adoration of the Shepherds (Photo credit: WikiArt.org)

The Adoration of the Shepherds (Photo credit: WikiArt.org)

Guido went to Naples to complete a commission to paint a ceiling in a chapel of the San Gennaro, but it appears competitors attempted to poison him, which emphasizes his talent as an artist. In 1625, Polish Prince Władysław Sigismund Vasa visited Reni’s studio in Bologna, which led to the purchase by the Prince of several works by Guido Reno. Guido survived the plague of 1630 that claimed many lives in Bologna. He was then painting the Pallion del Voto “with images of St. Ignatius and Francis Xavier,” produced during the plague of 1630 that befell Bologna. (See Guido Reni, Wikipedia.)

Guido died in 1642 and is buried next to Elisabetta Sirani (1638 – 1665) in the Rosary Chapel of the Basilica of San Domenica. Elisabetta Sirani’s story is told by Germaine Greer, in chapter XI, entitled The Bolognese Phenomenon, of The Obstacle Race.[4]

RELATED ARTICLES

My kindest wishes to all of you.

____________________

[1] “Western music.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 18 Oct. 2014. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/398976/Western-music>.

[2] “Guido Reni”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 18 Oct. 2014. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/498122/Guido-Reni>.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Germaine Greer, The Obstacle Race (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1979).

Salve Regina, Tomás Luis de Victoria (c. 1548 – 27 August 1611)
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Beatrice Cenci, oil painting by Guido Reni; in the Galleria Nazionale, Rome Alinari/Art Resource, New York (Britannica)

© Micheline Walker
18 October 2014
WordPress

The United States’ Electoral Campaign

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"Frostbitten, 1962" is on exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in an exhibit "Andrew Wyeth: looking Out, Looking In" (National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Charles H. Morgan, © Andrew Wyeth)

Frostbitten, 1962″ is on exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in an exhibit “Andrew Wyeth: looking Out, Looking In” (National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Charles H. Morgan, © Andrew Wyeth) (Photo credit: McClatchy DC)

I am writing a post – nearly finished – on a different subject than the United States, but wish to take a moment to write about the crisis in the Middle East and the electoral campaign.

President Obama

President Obama

The Crisis in the Middle East

I could be very wrong, but as you know from previous posts, it would be my opinion that the current strikes in Syria will not help solve the present crisis in the Middle East.

  • The drone strikes may lead to the death of several civilians, including a large number of children.
  • The drone strikes are a form of retaliation, and retaliation invites retaliation. It never ends. The crisis could spiral out of control.
  • Moreover, the drone strikes will no doubt be seen as further meddling on the part of the United States in the Middle East, which it isn’t. It is a mission to save detainees and disable the militants.
  • They may endanger the lives of Americans on their native soil: retaliation.
  • They may endanger the life of the detainees and cause the militants to torture them.
  • They harm the environment.
  • But, most importantly, retaliation is what Isis wanted. Isis can use the drone strikes as their lame excuse for beheading innocent detainees.

Having said the above, I need acknowledge that I lack detailed information on the crisis in the Middle East. Leaders cannot divulge all the facts and their strategy to civilians. 

The American Arsenal 

I should note that the American arsenal is so large that this can lead to rather false demands on the American people and its President. I should also note that the military respects the President, which may be a factor in the decision to use blind strikes. This matter is complicated, but when one has had to dodge attacks for six years, a small degree of erosion is to be expected.

With respect to the crisis in the Middle East, personally, I would use the best  intelligence available and send in the dog squad. Dogs can sniff the clothes of the detainees and then find their whereabouts. Isis militants are little more than rebels who have found a “cause.” They are giving Islam a bad reputation. Nothing justifies the terror Isis spreads.

See “The Dog Squad,” The New Yorker http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/video-the-dog-squad

Wolf Dog, Jamie Wyeth, 1976

Wolf Dog, Jamie Wyeth, 1976

The Electoral Campaign

Myopic and systematic opposition
ignoring the decision of the American people
 

The Republicans have more money than the Democrats and there is, on the part of hardline Republicans, a significant degree of systematic and myopic opposition, bordering on hatred, towards President Obama and his administration.

Ignoring the American People’s Choice

In this respect, hardline Republicans have been ignoring the choice of the American nation. Barack Obama was voted to the Presidency of the United States on 4 November 2008, and President Obama was re-elected to the Presidency on 6 November 2012.

Moreover, the cause of these hardline Republican representatives is cancellation of the Affordable Care Act, voted into law on 23 March 2010, four years ago. Hardline Republicans are anti-tax extremists.

Respecting the Voice of the People

  • Given that the citizens of the United States voted Barack Obama to the Presidency of their Country, hardline Republicans have been ignoring the decision of the people.
  • Given also that President Obama is the President of the United States, he and members of his administration should be allowed to play their role.
  • President Obama must listen to the Republicans, but first and foremost, he must listen to the voice of the people and respect policies he announced.
  • Suing President Obama is picayune and, dare I say, mean. Nor is it legitimate to impeach him for frivolous reasons: tax cuts for the wealthy and the revocation of the Affordable Care Act.
  • A country is dysfunctional if its citizens do not pay their fair share of taxes in return for social programmes that protect them and other essential services. There are means of keeping costs lower. In short, American citizens should not forfeit their right to a reasonable degree of security at all times.

Buying one’s way to office, including the Presidency

  • Political Parties cannot conduct a campaign without the money to travel, to stay in a hotel, to buy meals on the campaign trail and to advertise to a reasonable degree.
  • However, money should not be the chief tool leading to political office. One should not be able to buy his or her way into office.

Voter Suppression

  • Moreover, in no way should hardline and greedy Republicans engage in voter suppression. Has the United States ceased to be a democracy?

The Minimum Wage & Debt Bondage

Mr. Boehner has stated that he would commit suicide if the minimum wage was raised. When determining the minimum wage, the cost of living is the standard one uses.

Forcing people into debt is creating a form of bondage: debt bondage. Mr. Boehner’s language is that of a potential slave-owner. Mr. Boehner may therefore need to commit suicide, which, metaphorically speaking, is a fait accompli.

Allow me to close by quoting the American Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (The American Declaration of Independence drafted by Thomas Jefferson.)

Snow , by Andrew Wyeth

Snow, by Andrew Wyeth (Photo credit: mhsartgallery)

andrew_wyeth_snow_5

Snow, Andrew Wyeth (Photo credit: mhsartgallery)

Conclusion

If I were an American citizen, I would still support President Obama fully. He could not foresee Isis, as these are rebels who have seized on what they saw as an opportunity to kill. Isis is a group of bloodthisty terrorists.

With kindest regards to all of you.

Sources

—ooo—

Adagio for Strings
Samuel Barber (9 March 1910 – 23 January 1981)
 
"Wind from the Sea, 1947" is on exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in an exhibit "Andrew Wyeth: looking Out, Looking In" through November 30, 2014. (National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Charles H. Morgan, © Andrew Wyeth)

“Wind from the Sea, 1947″ (National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Charles H. Morgan, © Andrew Wyeth)

© Micheline Walker
October 12, 2014
WordPress

A Letter to WordPress

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Basket of Fruit, Caravaggio, 1596 (Photo credit: WikiArt.org, both paintings)

Dear WordPress,

You are asking for my Credit Card number. The Credit Card, MasterCard, was cancelled a few days ago, for security reasons. I’m a target.

Yesterday, 10 October 2014, a MasterCard employee phoned me. A new card — a sixth card — has been reissued. It is in the mail. However, when I receive it, I may not use it online. The moment I use my card, the number is stolen.

MasterCard will not be at liberty to reissue a seventh card. When the card arrives, I will telephone you. I have provided you with my telephone number and I am certain you can provide me with a telephone number.

I will owe you 15 dollars to keep a second domain, the name of which I must change. It may be that I will receive my new card early next week, before my second domain expires, but there could be a slight delay. I have no control over Canada Post.

My MasterCard is my only credit card. I do not want a second one and I consider the company’s request reasonable. If you wish to speak to a representative, I will give you a phone number, but not online. We may have to give my site a name other than its current name.

Last night, I filled out several identical forms you sent me. There did not seem to be anyone reading what I was writing. Hence this post.

I thank you in advance for your support in this matter.

Respectfully,

Micheline Walker

P. S. I should add that I was sent requests, a few months ago, to bail out a colleague who was supposedly stranded in Britain. I was asked to send money to Western Union, in Britain. Yesterday (10 October 2014) the MasterCard employee mentioned Western Union. I will have to get in touch with them. They used my colleague’s WordPress identity, a pseudonym, nothing more.

Caravaggio

no title Caravaggio

no title Caravaggio

© Micheline Walker
October 11, 2014
WordPress

The Versatile Blogger: the Rules

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A. J. Casson

A. J. Casson (Photo credit: the National Gallery of Canada)

Dear Colleagues,

As I wrote yesterday, I am not requiring people whose schedule does not allow further activities to follow rules.

However, I was remiss in not providing the rules, as you may wish to take advantage of this opportunity to nominate colleagues. It was a pleasure for me to do so. In fact, I would have liked to nominate more of my colleagues, but followed the rules.

versatile_blogger_award

The Rules

The rules are simple. In theory, you are expected

  • to nominate 15 colleagues;
  • to notify these colleagues;
  • to provide the rules;
  • to insert a link to my blog: http://michelinewalker.com

Allow me to thank Mr. Andrés Cifuentes once again. His website is very informative and interesting. It allows me to read posts written in Spanish. I once worked in Spanish exporting flour from Canada to Latin America. My task was to acknowledge receipt of an order, to place the order, and to make sure the order was shipped from a North-American port. In other words, once a customer had placed an order, I looked after the details.

Four months later, I returned to University. It had been a summer job. We worked on the docks in Vancouver and whenever a ship came, we socialized with the Captain and his crew. They always prepared a dinner for us. It was very pleasant. We were a team of four and we never spoke of word of English. I then took courses in Spanish literature.

Two of my nominees are specialists, but in areas that combine expertise in at least two fields.

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March Morning, A. J. Casson

André Gagnon plays his Nelligan


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The Versatile Blogger

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Delphiniums, A. J. Casson

versatile_blogger_award

I wish to thank WordPress author Andrés Cifuentes for nominating me for the above prize. I am most thankful for this nomination. I have discovered little treasures on Mr. Andrés’ site, a site he shares with colleagues.

There are rules attached to premios (prizes) one of which is to nominate other colleagues. Whom does one chose? Every text unveils a vision that is both unique and universal.

I will nominate persons whose posts I follow, or try to. However, I will not ask that you to nominate anyone for this prize unless you wish to do so. Some of you haven’t the time to nominate 15 colleagues. I hope I am not offending Mr. Cifuentes. Days go by at an alarming rate.

I had a birthday in July, on the same day of the month as Jean de La Fontaine. He will live forever in the fables to which he imparted eternity. As for me, on that particular birthday, I realized that my life was a peau de chagrin (shrinking shagreen).

—ooo—

The painting featured above is by A. J. Casson, a Canadian artist who was a member of the Group of Seven.

At the foot of this post, I have inserted a video showing Yehudi Menuhin playing the violin with his friend French-Canadian fiddler Jean Carignan. You will notice that Canadian fiddlers have been influenced by the music of Ireland and Scotland. The belt worn by Jean Carignan is the traditional ceinture fléchée, a belt with arrows. The music was composed by Québec composer André Gagnon. It is not a very good recording, but the event is memorable.

My nominees are:
 
Aquileana
Lino Althaner
AshiAkira
Naomi Baltuck
Bite Size Canada
Colltales 
Gallivanta
Hands on Bowie
Kaligrafi Nusantara
Barbaramonier
yvonprefontaine
Antonio de Simone
Stefania 
Mélanie Toulouse
Unclerave
 
 

My best regards to all of you.

a-j-casson
 

The Death Of a Great Country

Originally posted on Cbcburke9's Blog:

I may not have a political degree but surely I am not blind or stupid, but watching politicians jostled amongst each other for power instead of working together to keep the poor working class citizens in good stead, they listened to their millionaires backers who don’t care one hoot about anything other than their big bank account.
Our politicians ever so threatened by these millionaires about withdrawing their asset and moving elsewhere, why should our politicians be subject to these threat? How can a country survived without the taxes that needed to keep stability?.
I for one only hope that there is some honest politician out there who is willing to stand up for the majority and say to hell with those minority who are only in it for themselves.

View original

It’s no skin off my nose

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Le Roman de Renard

The animals at Noble’s court
Noble the lion is king
Renart is the Fox
Ysengrin is the Wolf
Brun (Bruin) is the Bear
the rape of Dame Hersent, Ysengrin’s wife
Aarne-Thomson classification system (ATU) type 2
Perry Index number 17
Perry Index number 24
 

The picture featured above shows the Lion king, Noble. In Branch I, of the Roman de Renart, Le Jugement de Renart[1], the various animals, barons, meet at Noble the Lion’s court, a king’s court that doubles up as a court of justice. Ysengrin tells about his wife Hersent who has been raped when she got stuck in a hole in the wall of her home. (The Roman de Renart is not in chronological order.)

The Lion does not think he can charge Renart with rape as the charge might not “stick.” There is a “history” between Dame Hersent and Renart, which is known. Nevertheless, when she gets caught in a wall and Renart takes advantage of Dame Hersent, it is rape. It is in Renart’s “nature” (character) to avail himself of every opportunity.

Although a charge of “rape” might not “stick,” the other animals gathered at the Lion’s court come forward to tell Noble that Renart has wronged them time and again. For instance, he has eaten many of their relatives. Hearing their complaints, the king, Noble the lion, decides he now has sufficient reasons to have Renart brought to court, the king’s court of law. Renart’s trial and the discussion that precedes his being brought to trial is masterful. Renart’s trial is a building block in the development of European jurisprudence and has been identified as such.[2]

Renart et Dame Hersent

Renart et Dame Hersent, br. II (Photo credit: BnF)

Le Jugement de Renart: Reynard’s Judgement

Bruin the bear is the first ambassador
Maupertuis: Renart’s fortress
Renart the trickster
Bruin’s “nature”
Bruin loses the “skin off [his] nose”
 

Bruin the bear is the first “ambassador” to travel, on horseback, to Maupertuis, Renart’s, fortress. As you may suspect, Renart is not about to follow Bruin to court. Our red fox is the trickster extraordinaire, so he tells Bruin to put his snout down into a slit in a log that is secured by wedges. According to Renart, that is where Lanfroi the forester keeps his honey.

As it is known “by universal popular consent,” bears love honey. Our modern Winnie-the-Pooh gets stuck in a house because he has eaten so much honey he cannot get out the way he came in. He is like Æsop’s swollen fox (“The Fox and the Weasel.” Perry Index 24). To get out, Winnie-the-Pooh must first lose weight. Similarly, Bruin cannot resist looking down the opening in the oak tree. That is in his “nature.”

By now, Renart is at a distance to protect himself from Lanfroi, but Bruin puts his nose inside the opening in the tree at which point the wedges are removed and he gets caught, or “coincé” (coin = wedge and corner). He sees Lanfroi and “vilains,” villagers, rushing to attack him. Therefore, knowing that he will lose his life if he does not flee, Bruin sacrifices the skin “off [his] nose,” gets on his horse, and travels back to court. When he arrives at court, he is bleeding profusely and faints. “Renart t’a mort” (Renart killed you,” (br. I, l. 724) says the king.

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Le siège de Maupertuis (br. Ia) (The Siege of Maupertuis) (Photo credit: BnF)
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Renart assiégé dans sa forteresse (Reynard besieged in his fortress) (Photo credit: BnF)

The Comic Text, or the Steamroller

Bruin seems to be suffering. However, according to Dr. Jill Mann,[3] the translator (into English) of the Ysengrimus, written in 1149 -1150, the birthplace of both Reinardus (Renart) and Ysengrimus (Ysengrin the wolf), the various animals of the Ysengrimus do not suffer.

The Ysengrimus, a 6,574-line fabliau written in Latin elegiac verses, is the Roman de Renart’s (1274 – 1275) predecessor. Dr. Mann compares the fox and other animals to cartoons where a cat is flattened by a steamroller, but fluffs up again (Jill Mann, p. 11).

“The recrudescent power of the wolf’s skin [bear's skin] is reminiscent of the world of the cartoon, where the cat who is squashed flat by a steam-roller, is restored to three dimensions in the next frame.” (Mann, p. 11)  

In other words, Reynard the Fox is a forgiving comic text, which allows for devilish pranks that do not harm animals and human beings. They may scream, for appearances, but they return to their normal selves.

The Roman de Renart is translated

Authorship of Ysengrimus has been challenged, but the Ysengrimus exists and it was rewritten in various European languages, the languages of the Netherlands and German, in particular. At any rate, it is of crucial importance that famed translator and printer William Caxton (c. 1415 – c. March 1492) wrote an English version of Reynard the Fox. (See William CaxtonWikipedia, the free encyclopedia.) (This translation is available online: The History of Reynard the Fox.)

From “goupil” to “renarT” and “Renard”

Reynard the Fox had to be popular in England as otherwise the expression “it’s no skin off my nose” could not be traced back, albeit hypothetically, to the Reynard cycle. In France, the Roman de Renart was so popular that goupil, the French word for fox, was replaced by Renart, but La Fontaine uses the modern spelling: renard. Now, if the fox lost his name goupil to become Renart, the Roman de Renart may also have influenced the English language.

Given the popularity and wide dissemination of Reynard the Fox, crediting a linguistic element to Reynard the Fox makes sense. In fact, crediting a linguistic element to a popular fable often make sense. Those stories were in circulation. Persons who could not read were told about Reynard, just as they were told Jacobus de Voragine‘s Golden Legend.

The Roman de Renart as a satire

According to Wikipedia,

Ysengrimus is usually held to be an allegory for the corrupt monks of the Roman Catholic Church. His [Ysengrimus'] greed is what typically causes him to be led astray. He is made to make statements such as “commit whatever sins you please; you will be absolved if you can pay.”[4] 

One could buy indulgences and do penance in purgatory:

purgatory, the condition, process, or place of purification or temporary punishment in which, according to medieval Christian and Roman Catholic belief, the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for heaven.[5]

Obviously, the Roman de Renart was not written for children, but there are children’s adaptations of its many tales. In such versions, Renart does not rape Dame Hersent and when the wolf loses his tail to escape “vilains” who will kill him, he feels no pain. The Roman de Renart includes the tail-fisher motif (ATU type 2; Perry Index 17 and (“The Fox with the Swollen Belly) (Perry Index number 24). (See RELATED ARTICLES)

—ooo—

Conclusion

ATU type 2: The Tail-Fisher (Aarne-Thompson-Üther classification system)
Perry Index 17 (“The Fox without a Tail”)
Perry Index 24 (“The Fox with the Swollen Belly”)
 

In A. A. Milne‘s[6] Winnie-the-Pooh, Eeyore loses a tail, which may remind one of the Tail-Fisher Motif (ATU 2), but the tail is not severed or caught in the ice. In current children’s literature, Bruin’s nose would grow back instantly and Jean de La Fontaine‘s Renard ayant la queue coupée (V.5) (The Fox whose tail has been cut off), would not look repulsive when he turns his back to the other foxes, inviting them to have their tail removed.

Bruin the bear’s nose will grow back. He has not suffered. Moreover, as we have just seen, Bruin’s sad encounter with Renart and Lanfroi the forester may also have helped shape, hypothetically, the English language: “It’s no skin off my nose.”

Let this be our conclusion.

Wishing all of you a good week.

Winnie-the-Pooh

Winnie-the-Pooh

RELATED ARTICLES

Sources and Resources

____________________

[1] Jean Dufournet & Andrée Méline (traduction) et Jean Dufournet (introduction), Le Roman de Renart (Paris: GF Flammarion, 1985), pp 72-79.

[2] Jean Subrenat, “Rape and Adultery: Reflected Facets of Feudal Justice in the Roman de Renart,” in Kenneth Varty, ed. Reynard the Fox: Social Engagement and Cultural Metamorphoses in the Beast Epic from the Middle Ages to the Present (New York & Oxford: Berghahn, 2000), pp. 16-35.

[3] Jill Mann “The Satiric Vision of the Ysengrimus,” in Kenneth Varty, ed. op. cit, pp. 1-15.

[4] Ysengrimus, Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia.

[5] “purgatory”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 04 oct.. 2014

<http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/483923/purgatory>.

[6] “A. A. Milne”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 05 oct.. 2014 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/383024/AA-Milne>.

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© Micheline Walker
October 5, 2014
WordPress

Natural Histories

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m_03

Livre d’images de madame Marie Hainaut, vers 1285-1290 Paris, BnF, Naf 16251, fol. 22v. La naissance du Christ est annoncée aux bergers, aux humbles. “Et voici qu’un ange du seigneur leur apparut [.]. Ils furent saisis d’une grande frayeur. Mais l’ange leur dit : “Ne craignez point, car je vous annonce une bonne nouvelle [.]” (The Birth of Christ announced to the Shepherds) (Photo credit: the National Library of France [BnF])

 —ooo—

Introduction

I am providing you with a list of natural historians. There are other historians than those I have listed. Moreover, some of the authors of Medieval Bestiaries were historians. My sources are the Medieval Bestiary and Wikipedia.

The Contents of Natural Histories

Nature included not only animals, plants, flowers, but “the moon, stars, and the zodiac, the sun, the planets, the seasons and the calendar[.]” (Vincent de Beauvais). I have already noted that our humble calendars were cultural monuments. Jean de France’s Livre d’heures (Book of Hours) is probably the chief example of humanity’s need to chronicle its hours and the labours of the monthsLes Très Riches Heures de Jean de France, Duc de Berry and the Book of Kells are genuine treasures. The beauty of the Book of Kells never ceases to amaze me. It is always new. As for Jean de France, Duc de Berry’s Livre d’heures, it is also an extremely beautiful book and it features the zodiac, thereby attesting to continuity between “paganism” and Christianity.

The Testimonial of Explorers: Marco Polo

The authors of the Natural Histories relied to a large extent on the testimonial of earlier natural historians, which did not make for accuracy, but was acceptable in the Middle Ages. Predecessors were masters one strove to equal. Marco Polo‘s (15 September, 1254 – 8–9 January, 1324) Book of the Marvels of the World (Le Livre des merveilles du monde), c. 1300, was also a source for natural historians who lived during Marco Polo’s lifetime and afterwards.

Marco Polo, however, did not have a camera and it would appear that few artists accompanied him. His descriptions could therefore be edited. Discovering trade routes, the silk road, was a more important mission for him than cataloging animals. Last September (2014), it was suggested that Marco Polo discovered America. (See The Telegraph.)

The Bestseller of the Middle Ages: The Golden Legend

Although Natural Histories listed mythical animals and much lore, I would not dismiss the accounts of the natural historians of Greece, Rome, early Christianity, and the Christian Middle Ages. Their books reveal various steps in our history. For instance, the bestseller of the Middle Ages was Jacobus de Voragine’s (c. 1230 – 13 or 16 July 1298) Golden Legend, which contained mostly inaccurate hagiographies (lives of saints). Although it was rather fanciful, it served as a mythology and humans need mythologies. They need to trace their roots.

Claudius Alienus’ On the Characteristics of Animals is available in print: Book 1, Book 2. But it may be read online at Internet Archive (Book 1, Book 2, Book 3). So are other books. For my purposes, On the Characteristics of Animals (EN) was extremely useful. It is the natural history I used when I prepared my course on Beast Literature.

lat_8878_014

Beatus de Saint-Sever. Manuscrit copié à Saint-Sever, XIe siècle, avant 1072 BnF, Manuscrits, Latin 8878 fol. 14 (An “historiated” letter: note the “eternal” knots and Renart standing on its back legs.(Photo credit: the National Library of France [BnF]) 

Guillaume de Machaut, Rondeaux. Manuscrit copié à Reims, vers 1373-1377.  BnF, Manuscrits, Français 1584 fol. 478

Guillaume de Machaut, Rondeaux. Manuscrit copié à Reims, vers 1373-1377.
BnF, Manuscrits, Français 1584 fol. 478 (Renart sits inside an historiated initial.) (Photo credit: BnF)

Natural Histories

Among historians, we can name:

  • Aelian (Claudius Alieanus) (c. 175 – c. 235 CE);
  • Æsop’s Fables (620 and 560 BCE);
  • Saint Ambrose (c. 340 – 4 April 397), Bishop of Milan;
  • Augustine of Hippo or St Augustine (13 November 354 CE – 28 August 430);
  • John Chrysostom c. 347 – 407);
  • Gervaise (end of 12th century), Bayeux, a Bestiaire);
  • Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales, Gerald of Wales or Gerald de Barri) (c. 1146 – c. 1223);
  • Guillaume le Clerc (early 13th century), Anglo-Norman, Bestiaire divin, written around 1210 or 1211);
  • Hugh of Fouilloy (early 12th century), Anglo-Norman, Livre des Créatures, or Liber de Creatures, c. 1119, De avibus [birds]); 
  • Hugh of Saint Victor
  • Hrabanus Maurus (c. 780-856), Archbishop of Mainz, De rerum naturis (On the Nature of Things), or De universo, an encyclopedia in 22 books, written between 842 and 847);
  • Isidore of Seville (St. Isidore) (c. 560 – 4 April 636 CE), Archbishop of Seville, Etymologiæ;
  • Lambert of Saint-Omer (c. 1061 – 1250), Liber floridus (“book of flowers”), Le Livre fleurissant en fleurs;
  • Lucan (3 November 39 CE – 20 April 65 CE), Roman, Pharsalia (unfinished);
  • Jacob van Maerlant (c. 1235 – 1291), greatest Flemish poet of the Middle Ages, Der Naturen Bloeme, a translation in Middle Dutch of Thomas of Cantimpré’s Liber de Natura Rerum;
  • Konrad von Megenberg (early 14th century), Bavaria, studied in Paris, Das Buch der Natur, his source was Thomas of Cantimpré;
  • Ovid (20 March 43 BC – 17/18 BCE), the author of the Metamorphoses;
  • Philippe de Thaon (early 13th century), Anglo-Norman writer, Livre des Créatures, or Liber de Creatures;
  • the author of the anonymous Physiologus;
  • Pliny the Elder (23 CE – 24 or 25 August 79 CE), Naturalis Historia (mentioned below);
  • Strabo (63/64 BCE – c. 24 CE), Greek, Geographica;
  • Theophrastus (c. 370 – 285 BCE), Enquiry into Plants (9 books), On the Causes of Plants (six books) (Theophrastus will be discussed separately);
  • Thomas of Cantimpré (early 13th century, Brussels), Liber de Natura Rerum (19 books in 1228, 20 books in 1244);
  • Vincent of Beauvais (c. 1190 – 1264?), a French Dominican friar, Speculum [mirror] naturale (His Speculum Maius was the main encyclopedia used in the Middle Ages.).

Bestiary.ca

My list is the Medieval Bestiary‘s list. It can be found by clicking on Bestiary.ca. The following authors are fascinating:

  • Pliny the Elder (23 CE – 79 CE) wrote a Naturalis Historia, a History of Nature. Pliny died in the eruption of Vesuvius, on 24 August 79 CE. Accounts differ. Pliny the Elder may have been studying the eruption, but he was also trying to rescue friends. Pliny the Younger, Pliny the Elder’s nephew, wrote two letters on the eruption of Vesuvius that he sent to Tacitus. Pliny the Younger was a witness to the eruption of Vesuvius, but survived. (See Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger, and Tacitus, Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia.)
  • Claudius Alienus (c. 175 – c. 235 CE) known as Aelian, is the author of On the Characteristics of Animals. Aelian, however, used written sources, one of which was Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia. Aelian told how beavers castrate themselves to escape hunters. As mentioned above, Aelian’s On the Characteristics of Animals is an Internet Archive publication Book 1, Book 2, Book 3. (See Claudius Alienus, Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia.)
Vincent de Beauvais (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vincent de Beauvais (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Sources and Resources

My kindest regards to all of you.

—ooo—

Guillaume de Machaut – Complainte: Tels rit au matin qui au soir pleure (Le Remède de Fortune(He laughs in the morning who cries when evening comes)   

 

Beatus de Saint-Sever. Manuscrit copié à Saint-Sever, XIe siècle, avant 1072  BNF, Manuscrits, Latin 8878 fol. 14

© Micheline Walker
October 3, 2014
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Animal Lore, or “Beasts Override Genre”

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Physiologus      Cambrai, vers 1270-1275      Douai, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 711, fol. 17
Physiologus, Adam nomme les animaux (Adam names the animals)
Cambrai, vers 1270-1275
Douai, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 711, fol. 17 (Photo credit: BnF) (click)

The Fable

One particular collection of fables, the Ysopet-Avionnet, was used in the schools of medieval France and continued to be published for centuries (see “The Cock and the Pearl,” La Fontaine cont’d). The word “Ysopet,”[1] was a diminutive for “a collection of fables by Ésope,” or Æsop. The term Ysopet, or Isopet, was first used to describe a collection of 102 fables by Marie de France (late 12th century), written in Anglo-Norman in octosyllabic couplets. As for the word Avionnet, it was derived from Avianus (c. 400 CE), the name of a Latin writer of fables whose fables belong to the Babrius (Greek) tradition and “identified as a pagan.” (See Avianus, Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia). The goal of fabulists was the Horatianto inform or delight.” Horace advocated a mixture of both: information and pleasure.

Beast Literature and Christianity

Medieval Bestiaries
the Moral
legendary or mythical animals
St. Augustine
 

Bestiaries differ from fables in that they contain a Christian moral/ allegory, but like fables, they are a form of instruction. The fox is the devil, and the lamb, Christ, etc. However, Bestiaries closely resemble fables because both genres feature animals and are more or less a form of teaching. The presence of animals sets a distance between the reader and the teaching provided by a fable or a bestiary. The moral is instructive in both genres, but not directly. The animal functions as a buffer.

Moreover, as we have seen, the attributes of animals were defined by “universal popular consent.” Such was particularly the case with Medieval Bestiaries. Animals dwelling in fables and Bestiaires are not zoological animals. They are literary figures and they are allegorical, especially in Christian Medieval Bestiaries. (See The Medieval Bestiary, David Badke, ed.)

Interestingly, Medieval Bestiaries feature a large number of legendary or mythical animals. The better-known are the Unicorn, the Dragon, the Griffin and the Phoenix, but Christian Medieval Bestiaries featured several other fantastical beasts, now mostly forgotten. It would be my opinion that Christianity had its prerogatives and that the relatively new Church needed several animals to exemplify human and sinful conduct.

Moreover, many Natural Historians were Christians. At any rate, the Bonnacon shown below was not exactly real and its manners were questionable.

img155

Kongelige Bibliotek, Gl. kgl. S. 1633 4º, Folio 10r

“A beast like a bull, that uses its dung as a weapon.” (F 10r) (Photo credit: The Medieval Bestiary)

St. Augustine and Truth

Allow me to quote Book 21, Chapter 5 of  Augustine of Hippo‘s City of God. Augustine of Hippo was St. Augustine and he writes “[t]hat There are Many Things Which Reason Cannot Account For, and Which are Nevertheless True.” Augustine of Hippo published his City of God in 426 CE. (See City of God, Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia.)

This kind of truth is what I have grown to describe as “poetical” truth (my term).

Bestiaires d’amour

However, some Medieval Bestiaries were love Bestiaries and were therefore associated with courtly love and the very popular  Roman de la Rose. The Roman de la Rose, authored by Guillaume de Lorris (c. 1200 – c. 1240) and Jean the Meun(g) (c. 1240 – c. 1305), was allegorical:

“At various times in the poem, the “Rose” of the title is seen as the name of the lady, and as a symbol of female sexuality in general. Likewise, the other characters’ names function both as regular names and as abstractions illustrating the various factors that are involved in a love affair.” (See Roman de la Rose, Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia)

In my last post, I featured a lion belonging to a Bestiaire d’amour. It was breathing life into dead offspring. This is what a lady was to do to revive a man after lovemaking, or “petite mort.Petite mort is an orgasm. The symbolism attached to Beasts dwelling in Love Bestiaries (Bestiaires d’amour) was, therefore, less Christian than the symbolism of animals inhabiting other Bestiaries. The most famous Love Bestiary is Richard de Fournival‘s (1201 – ?1260).

Bibliothèque Nationale de France, fr. 1951, Folio 18r

Bibliothèque Nationale de France, fr. 1951, Folio 18r (Richard de Fournival)

“‘le lyon [above] qui fait revivre ses lyonciaus’ – The lion revives its dead cubs. In the Bestiaire d’amour the man says that in the same way the woman can revive him from his love-death.” (fol. 18r) (Photo credit: BnF)

The courtly love traditional therefore incorporated animal lore, just as it included the lyrical poems of troubadours, trouvères, the Minnesingers, and lyric poets associated with movements such as trobadorismo or trovarismo. By the way, there were women troubadours: the Trobairitz.

Troubadours (Berlin) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vilém9

William IX of Aquitaine portrayed as a knight, who first composed poetry on returning from the Crusade of 1101(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Animal Lore

Jan M. Ziolkowski writes that “beasts override genre.”[2] He does so on page 1 of his Introduction to Talking Animals). Professor Ziolkowski is perfectly right. In Medieval Bestiaries, beasts were mostly the same from genre to genre: fables, Medieval Bestiaries and the satirical Roman de Renart. Beasts even override paganism and Christianity as well as the Old and the New Testaments. After all, Christmas replaced the pagan Roman Saturnalia. There had to be a feast on the day of the longest night.

To return to “beast literature” (Ziolkowski, p. 1), “The Dog and its Reflection” is included in the Æsopic corpus (Perry Index 133)[3] and is also a fable told in Kalīlah wa Dimnah, and, according to one source, it is also included in Le Livre des Lumières or Les Fables de Pilpay, philosophe indien, ou la conduite des rois (a 1698 edition), Æsop was a Levantin, i.e. from the Levant. With respect to fables, West meets East.

Kalīlah wa Dimnah is an Arabic rendition, by Persian scholar Ibn al-Muqaffa’, of the Sanskrit Panchatantra and Jean de La Fontaine, the author of Le Chien qui lâche sa proie pour l’ombre (VI.17), read fables by Pilpay. Yet, the Christian Medieval Bestiary tells that dogs leave the prey they have caught for a prey they may not catch. It may be a mere shadow.

When I was assigned a course on beast literature, I divided my material into the following genres, roughly speaking:

  • fables (Æsop and retellers),
  • beast epics (Reynard the Fox and fabliaux),
  • the Medieval Bestiaries (The Ashmole Bestiary, etc.),
  • and Natural Histories (The Physiologus, etc.), yet to be listed.

However, I had to mention mythological beasts, totemism, and also speak about children’s literature. Kenneth Grahame created a “reluctant dragon,” and the use of a toad as the protagonist of The Wind in the Willows made for an upside-down world, a mundus inversus.

Moreover Æsop, who lived in Greece, was a “Levantin.” There is an Eastern tradition to Æsop’s fables even though, according to some sources, there never lived an Æsop. Would that I could have changed the course into something like animals in Charles Perrault’s Contes de ma mère l’Oye and Madame de Villeneuve’s La Belle et la Bête, but someone else was teaching the course on fairy tales. Beast literature includes fairy tales.

I was on sabbatical writing a book on Molière when I was assigned my course on Beast Literature. I therefore joined the International Reynard Society and gave a paper at the next meeting of the Society. A Dutch colleague steered me in the right direction, but the course nevertheless ended my career as a teacher.

I have been very unwell for the last week, hence my not posting articles. Yet, there is so much to say.

My  kindest regards to all of you.

RELATED ARTICLES

Sources and Resources

—ooo—

[1] “Ysopet”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 29 sept.. 2014
<http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/654299/Ysopet>.

[2] Jan M. Ziolkowski, Talking Animals: Medieval Latin Beast Poetry, 750 – 1150 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), p. 1.

[3] Ben Edwin Perry (1892–1968) catalogued Æsop’s fables.

E, Dame Jolie & Douce Dame Jolie
Love song 13th-14th century
Chanson d’amour du Moyen-Âge.

Vilém9
 
© Micheline Walker
September 30, 2014
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The Fox, by “Universal Popular Consent”

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img4499

British Library, Sloane MS 278, Folio 53r

“A fox [above] pretends to be dead to deceive two birds into coming close enough to catch.” (fol. 53r) (Photo credit: The Medieval Bestiary) (Aarne-Thompson Classification Index, 56A)[1]

“The lion’s cubs [below] are born dead; after three days the father comes and roars over them, and brings them to life.” (fol. 96v) (Photo credit: The Medieval Bestiary)

Bodleian Library, MS. Douce 308, Folio 96v

Bodleian Library, MS. Douce 308, Folio 96v

In his Preface to Æsop’s Fables, its translator, George Fyler Townsend,[2] states that “[t]he introduction [in fables] of the animals or fictitious characters should be marked with an unexceptionable care and attention to their natural attributes, and to the qualities attributed to them by universal popular consent. The Fox should be always cunning, the Hare timid, the Lion bold, the Wolf cruel, the Bull strong, the Horse proud, and the Ass patient.” (Bold characters are mine.)

Bodleian Library, MS. Douce 366, Folio 71v

Bodleian Library, MS. Douce 366, Folio 71v

“A fox [above] runs off with a cock, while a woman carrying a distaff gestures angrily.” (fol. 71v) (Photo credit: The Medieval Bestiary)

Medieval Animal Lore

The Fox as the Devil, etc.

Townsend’s statement reflects an anthropomorphic vision of animals (humans in disguise), as in George Orwell‘s 1945 Animal Farm). In fables and in beast epics, such as Le Roman de Renart, animals are anthropomorphic. But Townsend’s comment also reflects a will to stereotype animals and transform them into allegorical creatures. In Medieval Bestiaries, they are symbols.

Medieval writers were fond of allegories, hence the questionable, but poetical, qualities bestowed on medieval beasts. The Lion is God and the Lamb, Jesus Christ. Only a virgin can catch the legendary or mythical Unicorn. (See Unicorn, Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia). The Beaver[3] eats its own testicles to avoid being caught by hunters. The fox is not only devious, but the devil himself:

“The fox represents the devil, who pretends to be dead to those who retain their worldly ways, and only reveals himself when he has them in his jaws. To those with perfect faith, the devil is truly dead.” (See David Badke or The Medieval Bestiary [bestiary.ca].)

British Library, Harley MS 4751, Folio 9r

British Library, Harley MS 4751, Folio 9r

“Hunted [above] for its testicles, it castrates itself to escape from the hunter.” (fol. 9r) (Photo credit: The Medieval Bestiary)

Exceptions to the lore, but…

There are exceptions to the lore. The real Dog is a very loyal animal. It can sniff out nearly anything or anyone. However, a real Dog does not let go of the prey it holds for the prey it might catch. In other words, the fanciful and the fantastic suffuse Medieval Bestiaries, such as the Aberdeen Bestiary or the Ashmole Bestiary (or Bestiaries). The same is true of several extraordinary medieval beasts, not to mention qualities attributed to birds, stones, and other aspects of nature. The merveilleux FR characterizes more than a thousand years of Natural Histories. It is often called le merveilleux chrétien, a Christian magical realism (the fantastic).

Writers of Medieval Bestiaries used Natural Histories such as Claudius Alienus‘ (170 CE – 235 CE) On the Nature of Animals (17 books) as their reference. Yet, these works were rooted in earlier texts, such as HerodotusHistories and Pliny the Elder‘s (c. 23 CE –  24 or 25 August 79 CE) Historia Naturalis.[4] However, as we have seen, the preferred source of writers of Medieval Bestiaries was the anonymous Physiologus, which cannot be considered “scientific.” (See Manuscript shelf.)

The Naming of Reinardus/Renart

This depiction of animals seems all the more anthropomorphic when the animal is given a name. In the Ysengrimus, the Fox is called Reinardus, a Latin form of Renart, the Fox’s name in the Roman de Renart, and La Fontaine’s Renard, the current spelling. The Fox is all too human. Professor Jan M. Ziolkowski[5] writes that animals featured in the Roman de Renart are

so highly individualized that they have names, like human beings.

This comment reminds me of T. S. Eliot‘s “The Naming of Cats,” Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (1939). “The Naming of Cats” was a source for Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s   immensely successful musical entitled Cats (1981). (See Cats, Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia.)

Reinardus and Renart

The naming of the Roman de Renart‘s animal cast begins with the Ysengrimus (1148-1149), the birthplace of Reinardus (Latin) who becomes Renart beginning in 1274-1275, when the first “branches” of the Roman de Renartwritten in “Roman,” the vernacular, were published. Animals in the Medieval Bestiary are seldom presented with animal attributes, with the probable exception of illuminations (enluminures FR).

Intertextualité

In other words, beasts inhabiting the Medieval Bestiary are stereotypes, or archetypes. Deviousness is the Fox’s main attribute, but it is a literary attribute, by “universal popular consent.” In fact, Medieval Beast literature is an example of intertextuality EN, a term coined by Julia Kristeva in 1966. Intertextuality is a theory according to which texts are rooted in an earlier text or earlier texts. One could also use the word palimpsest.

“Bear cubs are born as shapeless lumps of flesh, so their mother has to lick them into their proper shape.” (fol. 21r) (Photo credit: The Medieval Bestiary)

“The lion is the king of beasts.” (fol. 6r) (Photo credit: The Medieval Bestiary)

Bodleian Library, MS. Bodley 764, Folio 22v

Bodleian Library, MS. Bodley 764, Folio 22v

“Bear cubs are born as formless lumps of flesh; here [above] the mother is licking the cub into shape.” (fol. 22v) (Photo credit: The Medieval Bestiary)

British Library, Harley MS 4751, Folio 15r

British Library, Harley MS 4751, Folio 15r

“A mother bear [above] licks her cub into shape.” (Photo credit: The Medieval Bestiary)

Bibliothèque Nationale de France, fr. 1951, Folio 18r

Bibliothèque Nationale de France, fr. 1951, Folio 18r

“‘le lyon [above] qui fait revivre ses lyonciaus’ – The lion revives its dead cubs. In the Bestiaire d’amour the man says that in the same way the woman can revive him from his love-death.” (fol. 18r) (Photo credit: BnF)

The Fox: “Licking into Shape”

natural histories
licking into shape (Pliny the Elder)
 

Pliny the Elder

In fables and the Reynard the Fox cycle, Renart’s main fictitious characteristic is his devious nature, an attribute bestowed upon him by humans and which he possesses in fables, beast epics, medieval bestiaries, and in Natural Histories, by “universal popular consent.”

Licking into Shape

Pliny the Elder, however, does not mention deviousness with respect to the fox. What Pliny reveals is the birth of incomplete offspring that have to be licked into shape. I have yet to find an image of the Fox licking its offspring into shape, but Bears and Lions also lick their incomplete progeny into shape. (See Fox, in The Medieval Bestiary.) Although this characteristic, i.e. licking into shape, was noted in Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia, or Natural History (published c. 77– 79 CE), it may have entered animal lore long before Pliny was born.

As noted above, I have not found an image of the Fox licking unfinished foxes into shape, but I have found images of Bears licking their cubs into shape and Lions breathing life into lions born dead.

fr_1580_048

Le Roman de Renart, Renart et Tiécelin le corbeau (Reynard and Tiécelin the crow), br.II, Bibliothèque nationale de France (you may click this link)

The Fox Playing Dead to Obtain Food

Renart et les anguilles (br. III) (Reynard and the eels)
Æsop’s “The Dog and the Fox Who Played Dead” (ATU 56A)
Laurentius Abstemius 146 
 

Animal “lore” also presents a second image of the Fox. We have seen that in “The Crow and Fox” (« Le Renard et le Corbeau, » (La Fontaine I.3) the fox flatters the crow into singing and dropping its dinner. But the literary fox also plays dead to catch food, which is yet another manifestation of the fox’s deceptive literary “nature.” The theft of fish is motif number 1 in the Aarne-Thompson-Üther classification system.

Previously, Isidore of Seville (7th century CE) had written about foxes that they were “deceptive animals.” As for Bartholomeus Anglicus (13th century), he had described the fox as “a false beast and deceiving” that “makes believe it is dead in order to catch food.” (ATU 105)

The fox also plays dead in Laura Gibbs’ Bestiaria Latina:

On Abstemius

Abstemius is the author of the Hecatomythium (A Hundred Fables). Abstemius’ real name was Lorenzo Bevilaqua. He was a professor of literature at Urbino in the 15th century. He published the Hecatomythium, (A Hundred Fables) in 1495, followed by 97 fables, the content of his 1499 Hecatomythium Secundum, published in Venice in 1499. Hecatomythium is a Greek word, but Abstemius wrote in Latin. (See Laurentius Abstemius, Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia.)

Conclusion

Several Natural Histories were written in Greco-Roman Antiquity, going back to HerodotusHistories. Herodotus described the crocodile, the hippopotamus and phoenix. Many Natural Histories were also published in the early Middle Ages.

However, animals dwelling in

  1. fables;
  2. in beast epics, such as the Reynard the Fox cycle;
  3. in Medieval Bestiaries;
  4. and in Natural Histories are not zoological creatures, but the denizens of literature.

They possess qualities attributed to them “by universal popular consent,” which, in the Middle Ages, may have been the consent of Christian “naturalists,” some of whom were monks and scribes.

The fox, a beloved rascal, was the devil himself. Besides, we owe fox “lore” at least two English expressions: to “lick into shape” and “sour grapes.”

I apologize for my tardiness and send all of you my kindest regards. ♥

RELATED ARTICLES

Sources and Resources

____________________

[1] The Aarne-Thomson classification system (motif index) was modified by Hans Jorge Üther, hence the initials ATU.

[2] George Fyler Townsend, Æsop’s Fables, Project Gutenberg [EBook #21]. Third paragraph.

[3] Æsop’s fables have been indexed by Ben Edwin Perry (1892–1968). “The Beaver” is Perry Index 118.

[4]  Pliny the Elder died in the eruption of Vesuvius.

[5] Jan M. Ziolkowski, Talking Animals: Medieval Latin Beast Poetry, 750 – 1150 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), p. 3.

 Museum Meermanno, MMW, 10 B 25, Folio 13v
Museum Meermanno, MMW, 10 B 25, Folio 13v
© Micheline Walker
September 25, 2014
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