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John James Audubon (Photo credit: Wikiart) 

I have neglected my blog this week. Illness.

Two days ago, London was attacked. Britain’s Magna Carta and its Parliament are symbols of democracy.

At times, such events can be expected. Why did the attacker convert to Islam? Why did he become radicalized? We will never know, but he may have felt rejected. How else does one feel when US President Donald Trump bans Muslims from entering the United States?  The attacker committed a horrible crime, but why?

Canada’s anti-Islamophobia motion

Yesterday, the Canadian government passed an anti-Islamophobia motion. The vote was not unanimous. The problem may be with the term. But Muslims are being denied access to the United States which may explain the choice of the term Islamophobia. Many Canadians are afraid, but I believe our new Canadians: Muslims, Syrians, Iraqis, Armenians, Afghans, Syriacs and Yazidis, will be fine citizens, which will reassure everyone. A few members of Parliament voted against the motion, but it was passed. Migrants and survivors of a genocide who might perish, such as the Yazidis, must be given a home.

Current Activity

I am creating a page listing my posts on Beast literature. I retrieved most of the posts on this subject, but something went wrong with the page. If one has no list, one is lost. New posts will be written, but I would prefer not to be too repetitive.


I would like to express my condolences to the family and friends of the dead and wounded.

Love to everyone

Alfred Deller – Ode for the Birthday of Queen Ann – Handel

John James Audubon (Wikiart)

© Micheline Walker
24 March 2017

The Sick-Lion Tale as Source


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The Lion, the Wolf and the Fox (Site officiel)

Perry Index 258
Aarne-Thompson-Üther type 50 (The Sick Lion)

Let me take you back to the darkest, yet not so dark, early middle ages, or, to be precise, the three or four centuries preceding the first millennium. This period of history is often referred to as the monastic age. Monks copied books by hand in various scriptoria, indentations in the walls of monasteries, or an actual room, a scriptorium, ensuring the survival of the many masterpieces of antiquity and the dissemination of more recent works.

Interestingly, as monks kept alive the literature of antiquity, including Hesiod (8th century BCE) and Horace (8 December 65 BC – 27 November 8 BC), beast fables became a source of entertainment for copyists who not only copied these poems and reworked them, but who also created beast fables of their own. Anthropomorphism (talking animals) was an effective way of speaking anonymously, a satirist’s delight. Among beast fables, two tellings of the Sick-Lion tale would lead to Nivardus of Ghent’s 12th-century Ysengrimus and to the Roman de Renart, written in Roman, the vernacular, by Pierre de Saint-Cloud and other authors. 


St. Benedict delivering his rule to the monks of his order, Monastery of St. Gilles, Nïmes, France, 1129 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Paul the Deacon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Paul the Deacon’s Ægrum fama fuit

The Sick-Lion tale would be an inspiration to two authors. The first is Paul the Deacon, or Paulus Diaconus (720s – 13 April 799 CE), a Benedictine monk, a scribe, the renowned historian of the Lombards, and the author of the Ægrum fama fuit, a fable identified by its first words.

Professor Jan M. Ziolkowski translated the first words of Paulus Diaconus’ Ægrum fama fuit as follows:

“Once upon a time there was a report that the lion had lain ill and that he had already reached almost his final days.”[1]

Yet the title of Paul the Deacon’s Ægrum fama fuit is also “Leo æger, vulpis et ursus” (The sick lion, the fox and the bear), which could be the title 1st-century Roman fabulist Phædrus gave his Sick-Lion tale when he translated and put into written form his collection of Æsopic fables. George Fyler Townsend translated his beast fable as “The Lion, the Fox and the Wolf,” which would be consistent with his view that 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.” (Preface [EBook #21]). It was Townsend’s opinion that beasts should be stock characters. George Fyler Townsend’s translation of Æsopic fables is the Gutenberg project publication [EBook #21]. The Sick-Lion tale is fable number 258 in the Perry Index and type 50 in the ATU (Aarne-Thompson-Üther) classification system.


Reynard Art and Picture Collection / The New York Public Library (Photo credit: the New Yorker)

The Ecbasis captivi

Also culminating in the Ysengrimus and the Roman de Renart is the anonymous 11th-century Ecbasis captivi, a beast tale containing an inner tale. The outer fable is about the escape of a certain captive, a calf, and the inner fable is the Sick-Lion tale. The two narratives are linked because the calf escapes when the flayed wolf / bear shows himself, catching everyone’s attention. So, how did the Wolf / Bear lose his coat?

The Sick Lion tale

Here is our tale. A sick lion, believing that one could cure old age, called various doctors asking for a remedy. The Lion and the Wolf arrived promptly, but the Fox, suspecting that the Wolf / Bear was doing him in (lui faisait son affaire), went to Court concealed and quiet, “clos et cloi.” He heard the Wolf / Bear planning his demise. The Wolf / Bear told the Lion that the Fox wasn’t at Court: treason! At the Lion’s bedtime, the king demanded that the Fox / Bear be smoked out of his home (sa demeure) and brought to court.

When the Fox arrived at Court, he told the king that he feared someone was lying about him and scorning him. He explained that he had been on a pilgrimage: “mais j’étais en pèlerinage[,]” (but I was on a pilgrimage), and claimed he was dutifully praying for the Lion, as he had vowed. He also said that he had sought experts and told them to what extent the ailing Lion was suffering. The Lion lacked warmth, said the experts. That was the Lion’s problem! In order to cure the lion, one had to wrap him up into the skin of a Wolf/ Bear whose description fit the Wolf Ysengrin / Isengrin. Given the lion’s age, wrapping him up did help him.The Lion recovered and “courtiers sing songs comparing the Lion’s suffering to the passion of Jesus Christ, and the fox supplants the wolf as regent.” (See Ecbasis captivi, Wikipedia.) The flayed Wolf’s coat, or the Bear’s coat, would be the Lion’s dressing gown (sa robe de chambre).

My favourite version of the Sick-Lion tale is Paul the Deacon’s. The Fox arrives at the Lion’s Court carrying a bag filled with the many shoes he has worn out searching for a cure.[2]

In La Fontaine’s “Le Lion, le Loup et le Renard” FR  (The Lion, the Wolf and the Fox EN), the moral is that courtiers are forever harming one another when they should “think of giving.”

“Beware you courtiers, lest you gain,
By slander’s arts, less power than pain;
For in the world where we are living,
A pardon no one thinks of giving.”


Reynard’s Triumph. Scene from the famous medieval fable “Reynard the Fox” (10th canto). Hand-colored steel engraving after a drawing by Heinrich Leutemann (German painter, 1824 – 1905) from the book “Reineke Fuchs (Reynard the Fox)” by Julius Eduard Hartmann (after the medieval poem). Published by Albert Henry Payne, Leipzig and Dresden, 1st edition, c. 1855


The Ægrum fama fuit and the Ecbasis captivi are forerunners of Nivardus’ Ysengrimus and the more popular Roman de Renart, written in the vernacular, or Roman. The importance of the Sick-Lion tale stems, to a large extent, from the literary fortune of the Roman de Renart. The medieval bestiary differs from the Roman de Renart. It is allegorical. Fables, however, were used in schools, and the main collection was the Ysopet-AvionnetMarie de France wrote mostly Æsopic fables. So did Gualterus Anglicus (Walter of England, Gautier d’Angleterre).

In Beast fables, irony is our primary figure of speech. Talking animals do not talk despite their eloquence. Their inability to talk, except “en son langage” (La Fontaine), allows them to say what they haven’t said. In fact, the anthropomorphic Ecbasis captivi  is all the more eloquent since the Beast poem is also a fable within a fable, as are Vishnu Sharma’s Sanskrit Panchatantra and Kalīlah wa Dimnah, its Arabic reworking by Persian scholar Ibn al-Muqaffa.

In short, these Beast fables are all the more ironic because the animal world is a world- upside-down. For instance, the animals live at court. The Fox is a regent the Wolf / Bear wants to vilify. La Fontaine’s epimythium refers to courtiers. These are courtiers who should inhabit the basse cour, the barnyard where farmers keep hens and chickens. Anthropomorphism has clever twists.

Another reversal is the farcical “trompeur trompé,” the deceiver deceived. The Wolf attempts to elevate himself to the fox’ rank, that of regent, but circumstances, the Fox, damn him,  Let us note, moreover, that the Ecbasis captivi is written in hexameters with Leonine internal rhyme. (See Ecbasis captivi, Wikipedia.) The author of the Ecbasis  writes well, but the tale is about animals. That discrepancy is another source of irony, comic irony.

Therefore, although the Sick-Lion tale prefigures the Ysengrimus and the Roman de Renart, the weight of tradition is such that the medieval bestiary does not deprive the Lion, the Wolf and the Fox of their function, at least not altogether. The Lion is king and the Fox, wily, but they no longer talk and are allegorical. Yet, the Roman the Renart, a masterpiece of medieval literature, has been described as a fabliau, which is, to a large extent, grotesque literature. Fabliaux are not literature for children and most misericords are repulsive. The progeny of the Sick-Lion tale, the Roman de Renart in particular, could be seen as the underside of the Roman de la Rose, “courtly” literature.

There is more to discuss, such as fox doctors and the Christian spirit of the Ecbasis captivi, but I will comment no further.

I apologize for the delay.

Love to everyone 


Sources and Resources

[1] Jan M. Ziolkowski, Talking Animals: Medieval Latin Beast Poetry, 750- 1150 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), p. 295.

[2] Op. cit. pp. 295-297.

Reineke Fuchs pictures by Wilhelm von Kaulbach


© Micheline Walker
19 March 2017

Fables: varia


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The Treasures of the Orient

  • The Panchatantra
  • Kalīlah wa Dimnah

Beast fables have been told or written since the dawn of times and in various societies. The same is true of beast epics, that may be called Beast fables. Ironically, colonialism, one of the darker moments  in the history of mankind, led to the discovery of some of the world’s most fundamental texts. Many of these were discovered during the British Raj and many were beast fables, such as the Panchatantra and the Hitopadesha. Scholars learned Sanskrit and translated the masterpieces of India. The Bahgavad Gita, which is not a beast fable, was translated into English by Sir Charles Wilkins. It was Mahatma Ghandi‘s “spiritual dictionary.” (See Bahgavad Gita, Wikipedia.)

However, beast literature begins with Vishnu Sharma‘s Sanskrit Panchatantra. Recent scholarship has situated the creation of the Panchatantra between 1,200 BCE and the 3rd century BCE. Given that the Panchatantra is probably rooted in an extremely old oral tradition, I doubt that it was much or most written before the 3rd century BCE. The Panchatantra‘s sage is Bidpai or Pilpay and, to a large extent, the purpose of the Panchatantra is the education of the prince, or worldly wisdom. These books are referred to as mirrors for princes. Eleven Panchatantra tales were used by 17th-century French fabulist Jean de La Fontaine.

The best-known Arabic analog of the Panchatantra is the work of Persian scholar Ibn al-Muqaffa’. His translation and adaptation of the Panchatantra (meaning: five books) is entitled Kalīlah wa Dimnah, dated 750 CE. Other earlier translations or analogs were published, one of which is Borzūya‘s Middle Persian (PahlaviKalīlah wa Dimnah, dated 570 CE. That translation is lost. Vishnu Sharma’s Panchatantra also inspired the Hitopadesha, a text where beasts and animals interact. It was translated into English by Charles Wilkins. The sage in the Panchatantra and Kalīlah wa Dimnah is Bidpai, or Pilpay. French Orientalist G. Gaulmin‘s Livre des lumières, ou la Conduite des roys was published in 1644, several years after The Morall Philosophie of Doni (English, 1570). Both books were the Fables of Pidpai. (See Panchatantra and Anton Francesco Doni, Wikipedia.)[1]

La Fontaine’s source, however, was 17th-century French Orientalist Gilbert Gaulmin, the author of the Livre des lumières, ou la Conduite des roys (The Book of Lights or the Conduct of Kings). (See Panchatantra, Wikipedia.) La Fontaine’s first collection of fables reflects Æsop. But his second collection (books 7 to 11), published in 1778, was influenced by Orientalist Gilbert Gaulmin’s 1644 Livre des lumières, ou la Conduite des roys. La Fontaine acknowledges indebtness to Pilpay:  “Seulement, je dirai par reconnaissance que j’en dois la plus grande partie à Pilpay, sage Indien” (Only, out to gratitude, I will say that I owe most of my fables to Pilpay, an Indian sage” (Avertissement . II.7).

The Oral and the Learned Tradition

  • Phaedrus
  • Babrius

I wrote about the “oral tradition” elsewhere and mentioned it above. Æsop’s fables were transmitted orally from generation to generation, as would be the case with the Sanskrit Panchatantra. Æsop’s fables did not enter literature until Latin author Phaedrus, who lived in the 1st century CE, published a written collection of Æsop’s fables, as did the Greek-speaking author Babrius (2nd century CE). Once Æsop’s fables were in written form, they had entered a “learned” tradition, but could nevertheless be retold, just as fairy tales could be retold.

La Fontaine’s sources

Several collections of Æsop’s Fables were based on either Phaedrus or Babrius or both. Jean de La Fontaine used a 1610 Latin collection of Æsop‘s Fables, entitled Mythologia Æsopica, put together by Isaac Nicolas Nevelet. However, before publishing his second collection of fables, in 1678, which contains L’Ours et l’amateur des jardins (The Bear and the Gardener), La Fontaine had become familiar with Gilbert Gaulmin 1644 Le Livre des lumières, ou la Conduite des roys, a collection of Bidpai’s fables (Pilpay) can be read it is entirety by clicking on the link (Gallica BnF). Bidpai is a sage whose fables were learned by future kings. He is the sage in the Sanskrit Panchatantra and Persian (Arabic) Kalīlah wa Dimna. His wisdom is worldly wisdom, as noted above.


The Panchatantra. An illustration from a Syrian edition dated 1354. The rabbit fools the elephant king by showing him the reflection of the moon (Caption and photo credit: Wikipedia)


  • Æsop, Æsopic & Æsopian
  • Æsopic, Lybistic & Sybaritic

In recent years, much has been written about fables and beast epics. As a result, scholars now point to differences between Æsop’s fables. The term Æsopian refers to an oblique language. It was first used by Russian satirist Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin (27 January  1826 – 10 May 1889). As for Æsopic, it may refer to Æsop’s fables. One can speak of Æsopic fables.

Æsopic however has another meaning. It refers to fables that feature animals only. Fables that mix animals and human beings, such as La Fontaine’s L’Ours et l’amateur des jardins, and Æsop’s “The Bald Man and the Fly,” are called Libystic. In ancient Greece, if a fable’s dramatis personae were humans only, the fable was called Sybaritic.[2]

Isidore of Seville

Isidore of Seville (c. 560 – 4 April 636), an eminent  Father of the Church and the author of Etymologiae (origins), divided fables into Æsopic (animals) and Libystic (beasts and human beings). Isidore’s Etymologiae could be considered an aetiological text consistent with the teachings of the Church.

Fables are either Æsopic or Libystic. Æsopic fables are those in which dumb animals are imagined to have spoken with each other, or in which the speakers are things which have no soul, as cities, trees, mountains, rocks, and rivers. In contrast, Libystic fables are those in which there is verbal interchange of men with animals with men.
(Etymologiae 1.40.2) [3]

The consensus, however, is that fables are inhabited mainly by talking animals whose words may be dismissed, but have nevertheless been heard. The Church took an interest in the origins of animals. There had to be a Christian account of the creation of animals, so members of the clergy were at times naturalists. All animals had been put aboard Noah’s Ark but, in children’s literature, the Hebrew/Christian Unicorn missed the boat.

Animals belonging to the Medieval Bestiary are allegorical. They are not talking animals, except  “en son langage.”  They are allegorical rather than anthropomorphic animals.


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 Components of a Fable

The fable is a story, an exemplum, and the moral is the distinguishing element of fables. The moral may be an epimythium and follow the example, or story. It may also precede the story, in which case it is called the promythium. However, some fables do not have a moral, except the fable itself. Finally, one can give a fable a moral other than the moral ascribed by the fabulist.

Love to everyone

[1]  See a review of Sir Charles North‘s The Morall Philosophy of Doni (Project Muse, University of Toronto.) 

[2] Jan M. Ziolkowski, Talking Animals: Latin Beast Poetry, 750 – 1150 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), pp. 18-19.

[3] Loc. cit.


Isidore of Seville (Pinterest)

© Micheline Walker
10 March 2017

Anthropomorphism and Zoomorphism


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knossos_fresco_in_throne_palace1Griffin fresco in the “Throne Room,” Palace of Knossos, Crete, Bronze Age. (Photo credit:  Wikipedia)
The Griffin  
The red Griffin “rampant” was the coat of arms of the dukes of Pomerania and survives today as the armorial of West Pomeranian Voivodeship (historically, Farther Pomerania) in Poland.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When the griffin or other mythical/mythological animal is featured on a crest in a climbing position, he is called “rampant” (ramping, crawling). 


  • fables
  • beast epics
  • speaking animals

Animals in literature are, for the most part, humans in disguise, or anthropomorphic. As Jan M. Ziolkowski writes, “beasts override genre.”[1] Fables and fairy tales are genres, but beast literature is not.

Fables and Beast Epics

However, although beasts override genre, speaking animals are associated first with fables, such as Æsop’s Fables and Jean de La Fontaine’s, and, second, with beast epics, such as Reynard the Fox, or Le Roman de Renart, which narrows a much broader area of knowledge. Anthropomorphic animals are humans in disguise. In the Roman de Renart, all animals have a name. In fact, Renart was so popular that foxes ceased to be called goupils in French. They became renards. Reynard the Fox is entitled Le Roman de Renart, where renard is spelled with a “t.” Renart is a trickster whose nemesis is the wolf named Ysengrin.

Le Roman de Renart, a French beast epic, is rooted in the Ysengrimus, a lengthy––6,574 lines of  elegiac couplets––Latin mock epic written in 1148-1149 and attributed to Nivardus of Ghent. In the Isengrimus, Renart is Reinardus and will become the most famous and beloved animal in European beast literature. Renard is the fox of the “Fox and Crow” and other “fox” fables. In fact, the Roman de Renart, the first “branches” of which were written in the late twelfth century by Pierre de Saint-Cloud, is an outer fable containing inner fables (Ausserfabel and Innerfabeln), including Æsopic fables.[2] Æsopic fables preceded the Roman de Renart by a more than a thousand years.


  • “dire sans dire”
  • Aesopian
  • George Orwell

The main characteristic of anthropomorphic animals is their ability to speak a human language. Animals are very useful to writers because, when all said and done, animals have not said a thing. Jean de La Fontaine’s (1621-1695) fables have been described as a “dire-sans-dire” (to say without saying). They are “enveloped” tales, writes German scholar Jürgen Grimm. Therefore, anthropomorphism is an oblique literary discourse, a fiction within a fiction.

Russian satirist Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin (27 January  1826 – 10 May 1889) first used the word aesopian to describe a language unclear to outsiders, thereby allowing authors to say what they please with relative impunity. In 1945, George Orwell wrote an allegorical novella entitled Animal Farm. His animals are humans in disguise, hence their saying what they will not have said. Their own tongue is a language, but it is not a human language. Babe, the protagonist, a piglet, of a 1995 Australian film directed by Chris Noonan and produced by George Miller, is an anthropomorphic animal. The film is an adaptation of Dick King-Smith‘s 1983 novel: The Sheep-Pig.

The Story

La Fontaine did make each of his animals speak, but he also emphasized the power of fiction, in which he may have further distanced his speaking animals. In the Preface to his first collection of fables, books one to six, La Fontaine notes that Jesus of Nazareth spoke in parables. Parables are stories and, as such, they empower speech. To illustrate the power of stories, La Fontaine’s wrote a fable entitled Le Pouvoir des fables (2.VIII.4). It contains an inner fable about a speaker the people of Athens would not listen to until he turned to fiction, a story about Cerēs, the Roman goddess of agriculture. The moral of the “Power of Fables” is that we are all Athenians. La Fontaine writes that if Donkeyskin, a fairy tale, were told to him, it would give him enormous pleasure. The world is old, writes the fabulist, yet it is like a child we must amuse.

Moreover, a story is pleasurable and is not easily forgotten.

Nous sommes tous d’Athène en ce point, et moi-même,
Au moment où je fais cette moralité,
Si Peau d’âne m’était conté,
J’y prendrais un plaisir extrême.
Le monde est vieux, dit-on, je le crois; cependant
Il faut l’amuser encor comme un enfant.

Le Pouvoir des fables ” (2.VIII.4)
The Power of Fables (2.VIII.4)

It should be noted, however, that La Fontaine believed in a “boundless universe,” where tout parle, everything speaks, which is anthropomorphism.

Car tout parle dans l’Univers;
Il n’est rien qui n’ait son langage.

For in this boundless universe
Ther’s none that talketh, simpleton or sage
More eloquent at home than in my verse.

Everything does speaks. For instance, Milo Winter‘s illustrations for “The North Wind [Boreas] and the Sun” (“Phoebus and Boreas”) constitutes an example of elements, the wind and the sun, who speak as though they were humans. In short, anthropomorphism resembles a form of personification, which it is in Phoebus and Boreas .”


The North Wind and the Sun by Milo Winter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Phébus et Borée, Site Officiel

Zoomorphism: les Hybrides

  • composite animals or hybrid creatures
  • mythological and mythical animals
  • aetiological texts
  • symbolism
  • giving animal features to anything (e. g. furniture)

Zoomorphism is a more complex concept than anthropomorphism and may be the reverse of anthropomorphism. Mythologies and myths are home to zoomorphic animals that combine the features of a human and an animal or the features of many animals. The centaur of Greek mythology is part human and part beast. Centaurs have the lower body of a horse, but the upper body of a human.

The Minotaur is the offspring of Pasiphaë, the wife of Cretan king Minos and the Cretan bull. He is part human and part bull and so evil a creature that he is kept in a labyrinth built by Daedalus. He is slain by Theseus who finds his way through the labyrinth using Ariadne‘s thread. These two hybrid creatures, the centaur and the Minotaur, may hold a mirror to mankind’s duality. Humans possess a mortal body and an immortal soul.

However, mythology also features composite animals. Cerberus, the vigilant dog guarding the gates to the Underworld is a three-headed dog. J. K. Rowling used Cerberus in her Harry Potter series. Her fifth book in the Harry Potter series is entitled Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Mythological animals have long inhabited the human psyche and are therefore somewhat familiar to readers. To my knowledge, no one escapes Cerberus’ attention, except Psyche. (See Cupid and Psyche, Wikipedia.) Pegasus, the winged horse, is also a well-known mythological being.

Mythologies are origin myths or aetiological. The Bible itself, the Scriptures or “the Word,” could be described as an aetiological text. It features fanciful angels who are human-like but have wings. In Greek mythology, for instance, animals have a lineage or a pedigree, as is the case with the above-mentioned Minotaur. In the growingly popular area of children’s literature, aetiological tales are called “pourquoi” tales. The most famous example of a “pourquoi” tale is Rudyard Kipling‘s (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936) Just so stories.

Zoomorphic beasts may also be symbols. As mentioned above, those who mix the features of a human being may reflect the fall of mankind. Besides, an anthropomorphic serpent talked to Eve.

Mythologies and Myths

J. K. Rowling used not only Cerberus, but the Phoenix, a symbol of rebirth.  Symbolic beasts are mostly mythical rather than mythological, but readers and scholars tend to blur that line. The distinguishing criterion would be lineage. By and large, mythological beasts, such as the above-mentioned Minotaur and centaurs have a pedigree.

Mostly mythical animals are the phoenix, the unicorn, the dragon, the griffin and the irresistible Sirens, mermaids mostly. Mermaids have the upper body of a woman and the lower body of a fish. These legendary beings may make an appearance in mythologies, but they are somewhat ubiquitous and often transcultural. The phoenix has often been described as a mythological animal and he has a story as does the Unicorn, but he does not possess the Minotaur’s lineage.

The dragon is our most ubiquitous imaginary animal and may be good or bad depending on his environment. In the West he is bad, but not so in the East. Unicorns and Sirens are also transcultural. These mythical animals are zoomorphic, but, in Medieval Bestiary, they are symbols.

  • The dragon‘s characteristics change from culture to culture. He is feared in the West, but not in China.
  • The griffin, shown at the top of this post, a lion mostly, with the head of an eagle, is a guardian. In antiquity, he was a symbol of divine power and a guardian of the divine.
  • The unicorn has one horn and plays various roles from culture to culture. In Western culture, he is emblematic of chaste love and faithful marriage.
  • Given that he rises from his own ashes, the phoenix is a symbol of rebirth and very popular.

The word zoomorphic is also used to describe pieces of furniture and architectural elements. For instance, the legs of wing chairs often imitate the feet of an animal. Besides wing chairs have wings. Among architectural element, the animal-like Gargoyle is a favourite. He is a waterspout with an open mouth. Bas-reliefs (shallow carvings on a flat surface, such as a wall) may also contain animal-like architectural elements. They embellish buildings. All animal-like creatures inhabiting the medieval bestiary are allegorical or symbolic.


Diophos Painterwhite-ground  lekythos (500 BCE) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Order of the Dragon was created to defend Europe against the invading Ottoman Turks in the 15th century. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Other Beasts

  • metamorphosis
  • theriantropic beasts
  • lycanthropy

Both the terms anthropomorphism and zoomorphism include morphism. Morphism suggests a metamorphosis, or a transformation in a being’s appearance, which may be a wish human beings share, just as they share the wish to fly. Roman writer Ovid (20 March 43 BCE – CE 17/18) is the author of the extremely influential Metamorphoses and Berber  Latin writer Apuleius (c. 124 – c. 170 CE) wrote The Golden Ass, which contains the lovely tale of Cupid and Psyche. Lucius, the protagonist of The Golden Ass, is mistakenly transformed into an ass when attempting to be transformed into a bird. 

Beast literature features therianthropic animals, who are the victims of a curse. Beast in Beauty and the Beast is a therianthropic being. Enchantment is central to fairy tales. But shapeshifting animals bring to mind the werewolf (le loup-garou), a lycanthrope, rather than fairy tales.

Animals as Types

In the Preface to his translation of Æsop’s Fables, John Fyler Townsend writes that animals are types, much like the stock characters of the commedia dell’arte.

The introduction of the animals or fictitious characters should be marked with an 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. [EBook #21]

Zoomorphic animals are not types. However, there is commonality between animals and humans,  Darwinism is a subject we will not discuss. Mythical and mythological animals may be up to no good, but they are not mutating. Moreover, I consider totemism, animal ancestry, the preserve of anthropologists.


Beast literature is a huge topic. We cannot escape any of the categories mentioned in this post. Yet, anthropomorphism is its chief characteristics because of the prominence of fables and the Roman de Renart, Reynard the Fox. One could define the usefulness of anthropomorphic animals by using Gertrude Stein‘s a rose is a rose is a rose.

Well, at the end of the day, a fox is a fox is a fox, therein the wizardry of a large part of beast literature. However, we remember the story. Dear La Fontaine.



[I] Jan M. Ziolkowski, Talking Animals: Medieval Latin Beast Poetry, 750 – 1150 (The University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), p. 1.
[II] Jean Batany, Scène et coulisses du « Roman de Renart » (Paris: Cedes, 1989), p. 57.

The Unicorn
Photo credit: Wikipedia 
Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll and John Tenniel

© Micheline Walker
6 March 2017


Beast Literature


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Beauty dines with the Beast in an illustration by Anne Anderson (Photo credit: Wikipedia

My last two posts were an analysis of a fable by Jean de La Fontaine, “L’Ours et l’amateur des jardins,” “The Bear and the Gardener.” The corresponding fable by Æsop is entitled “The Bald Man and the Fly,”  but the fable reflects Le Livre des lumières ou La Conduite des roys, fables by Bidpai.

You may remember that I could not find the fable’s Perry Index number. I simply forgot that Aesop’s corresponding fable was entitled “The Bald Man and the Fly.”  Its number in the Perry Index is 525. For such information, Laura Gibbs’ Bestiaria Latina is the site to visit. Æsop and his numerous followers are Laura’s area of specialization.

Animals in Literature: a Project

This post is a progress report. Several years ago, I had to prepare a course on animals in literature during a sabbatical leave I was devoting to my book on Molière. It was too great an effort, so the course ended my career as a university teacher. I fell ill. However, I did prepare and teach the course assigned to me and continued researching the subject.

Yesterday, I realized I had written so many posts on Animals in Literature that they should be collated. I need a table of contents. Moreover, there are gaps to fill. As for the texts, many are on the internet, such as the collections of fables I listed on 2 March 2017. Would that there had been an entry on Beast Literature or Animals in Literature, when I prepared my course.

Pages on Fables and Fairy Tales

I will not remove my pages on various fables and fairy-tales. They will simply be updated each time I write a post on a fable, or myth, or fairy-tale. They are my reading material. The Gutenberg Project, Internet Archives, Wikipedia and various generous organizations have provided the curious with several complete eTexts.

Our starting-point will be a clarification of the concept of anthropomorphism. Animals in literature are human beings in disguise. I have already written a post on this subject, but it has been refurbished.

This post published itself before it was finished. I apologize.

Love to everyone



Cinderella by Anne Anderson



The Miller’s Daughter by Anne Anderson

© Micheline Walker
3 March 2017









La Fontaine & Aesop: Internet Resources


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Walter Crane, ill. Gutenberg #25433

Æsop & La Fontaine

The sites listed below may be very useful. Posts about a particular fable may contain classification or cataloging information, but not necessarily. The Project Gutenberg has published very fine collections of Æsop’s Fables, including illustrations. La Fontaine is also online, most successfully. These collections are old, but they are the classics.

1. Æsop’s Fables: a New Translation
V. S. Vernon Jones, (tr) G. K. Chesterton (intro),  Arthur Rackham (ill)
[EBook #11339]
2. Æsop’s Fables
George Fyler Townsend, translator
[EBook #21
3. Æsop’s Fables
Harrison Weir, John Tenniel and Ernest Griset, illustrators
[EBook #18732]
4. The Æsop for Children
Milo Winter, illustrator
[EBook #19994]
5. The Baby’s Own Æsop
Walter Crane, illustrator
[EBook #25433]

Jean de La Fontaine (1621 – 1695)

Musée La Fontaine, site officiel FR & EN (The complete fables of La Fontaine)
1. A Hundred Fables of La FontainePercy J. Billinghurst
[EBook #25357]
2. The Fables of La Fontaine, Elizur WrightJ. W. M. Gibbs, 1882 [1841]
[EBook #7241]
3. Fables in Rhyme for Little Folks, From the French of La Fontaine, 1918 
W. T. (William Trowbridge) Larned (tr), John Rae, illustrator 
[EBook #24108]
© Micheline Walker
1 March 2017

The Bear and the Gardener


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L’Ours et l’Amateur des jardins by J. J. Granville, 1838-1840 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 1586
La Fontaine (2.VIII.10; [collection 2, book VIII, number 10])
Perry Index of Æsop’s Fables 525 (The Bald Man and the Fly)
Æsop’s The Bald Man and the Fly
D. L. Alishman‘s The Foolish Man (ATU 1586)
Laura Gibbs’ Bestiaria Latina (
Nītiśāstra Oxford Reference


This fable by Jean de la Fontaine, was published in 1678, ten years after the publication of his first collection (recueil) of fables, 1668. His third and final collection was published in 1694, shortly before his death in 1695. We therefore have three collections (trois recueils) of fables by La Fontaine.

La Fontaine’s first collection of fables (6 books) reflects Æsop. Æsop did not write fables; he told fables. His fables therefore belong to an oral tradition and did not enter literature until Roman and Greek writers: Phædrus (1st century CE) and Babrius (2nd century CE) wrote his fables in Latin and Greek respectively. Future collections of Æsopic fables are rooted in Phædrus’ Latin publication or Babrius’ Greek publication and were rewritten several times by various European fabulists of whom there have been a large number. La Fontaine differs from other fabulists because of the manner in which he used the story. For La Fontaine, the story is truly skeletal. As a French author, La Fontaine is second only to Victor Hugo.

La Fontaine’s second collection of fables differs of his first collection in that it reflects the influence of Le Livre des Lumières or “Le Livre des lumières ou la Conduite des rois, composé par le sage Pilpay, Indien (1644) : lettres persanes et fables françaises,” The Book of Lights or the Conduct of Kings, by Pilpay: Persian Letters and French Fables, by the wise Bidpai.

Nītiśāstra: the Conduct of Kings

The Hitopadesha is a collection of Sanskrit fables, dated 1373, but it finds its roots in Vishnu Sharma‘s Sanskrit Panchatantra (3rd century BCE) and its Arabic translation by Persian scholar Ibn al-Muqaffa’ (d. 756-759), entitled Kalīla wa Dimna. In both the Panchatantra and Kalīla wa Dimna, the sage Bidpai/Pilpay tells fables concerning the conduct, or the behaviour, of kings (la conduite des rois).

Bidpai is the story teller, not Vishnu Sharma, the author of the Panchatantra, nor Ibn al- Muqaffa’, the translator into Persian of the Panchatantra entitled Kalīla wa Dimna. Therefore, stories are told within a frame story. Moreover, the PanchatantraKalīla wa Dimna, and the Hitopadesha contain fables that are lessons for a future king (see nītiśāstra, Oxford Reference).


A 1663 Indian miniature of the story from Rumi’s “Mas̱navī” (Walters Art Museum)

The Bald Man and the Fly[1]

A fly settled on the head of a bald man and bit him. In his eagerness to kill it, he hit himself a smart slap.

But the fly escaped, and said to him in derision, “You tried to kill me for just one little bit; what will you do to yourself now, for the heavy smack you have just given yourself?”

“Oh, for that blow I bear no grudge,” he replied, “for I never intended myself any harm: but as for you, you contemptible insect, who live by sucking human blood, I’d born a good deal more than that for the satisfaction of dashing the life out of you!”

Translated by V.S. Vernon Jones in Gutenberg [EBook #11339]

Variants: Rumi’s “Mas̱navī

Wikipedia’s entry on La Fontaine’s “L’Ours et l’amateur des jardins” (See The Bear and the Gardener) mentions other variants. The most immediate would be Rumi‘s 13th-century poem Masnavi. Rumi was a Persian Sufi poet.

La Fontaine’s “L’Ours et l’amateur des jardins,” [FR text], The Bear and the Amateur of Gardens [EN text] juxtaposes a human being and an animal. Animal fables are the better-known fables. Fables feature animals and nature in general: the wind, trees, mountains, stone, etc., all of which are anthropomorphic. Anthropomorphism, humans in disguise, is a form of obliqueness and, in the case of fables, an indirect lesson. Fables flourish when speaking directly is dangerous. For instance, La Fontaine lived under Louis XIV. His lion is king, but Louis was not a lion.

Our story is about an older man and a bear called Bruin, as in Reynard the Fox. Both the older gentleman, a garden lover, and the bear are very lonely. They meet and start keeping one another company. The gardener tends to his garden and the bear goes hunting. All is well until the bear uses a large stone (un pavé) to kill a fly that lands on the nose of his friend, the gardener. He kills the gardener.

La Fontaine’s moral is:

Rien n’est si dangereux qu’un ignorant ami ;
Mieux vaudrait un sage ennemi.

A foolish friend may cause more woe
Than could, indeed, the wisest foe.


Several morals can be associated with the Bear and the Garden Lover.  La Fontaine’s moral is that a foolish friend is worse than an enemy. One could add that it is necessary to consider the consequence of one’s actions (ill-considered actions), a common moral. The moral also reflects the “Stoic” moderation in everything. (See The Bear and the Gardener, Wikipedia.)

The chief moral, however, is that we can hurt ourselves, and our friends, when we mean no harm. Bruin the bear kills the gardener who was his very best friend. Such was not his intention.

Anthropomorphism: a Twist

However, the moral can also be that animals differ from human beings, which is ironic because it seems a negation of anthropomorphism, or animals as humans in disguise. The bear cannot tell that the gardener is a human being that is not in disguise. The bear, however, is anthropomorphic. In this fable, the moral could be that humans are humans and beasts are beasts and the two shan’t mix, which is an ironic twist on the concept of anthropomorphism. Fables featuring human beings interacting with animals are called Libystic.[3]


“We used to see Androcles with the lion attached to a slender leash, making the rounds of the city”, a pen and wash drawing by Baldassare Peruzzi, 1530 (Hermitage Museum) (Androcles, Wikipedia)


Russian fabulist Ivan Krylov
Robert Dodsley‘s Select fables of Esop and other fabulists (1764), entitled “The Hermit and the Bear”
“The Seven Wise Men of Buneyr”
Androcles and the Lion
Mary Anne Davis’ Fables in Verse: by Aesop, La Fontaine, and others, first published about 1818
Jefferys Taylor’s Aesop in Rhyme (1820)
“The Seven Wise Men of Buneyr”
The Wise Men of Gotham
Giufà (Italy)
Foolish Hans (Austria)
Giovanni Francesco Straparola‘s tale of Fortunio in Facetious Nights (13.4), written about 1550
and others
(See The Bear and the Gardener, Wikipedia.)


One finds a different savour to La Fontaine’s second collection (recueil) of Fables.  He had not abandoned his Æsopic source, but he had read Gilbert Gaulmin’s Le Livre des Lumières ou La Conduite des roys, a translation of Pilpay /Bidpai, published in 1644, as well as Rumi‘s Mas̱navī, a poem. Æsop told his fables in Greek, but if there ever lived an Æsop, he is called a Levantin and therefore originated from the Levant. Much of our worldly-wisdom is derived from the East.

Love to everyone


Sources and Resources 

[1] Gutenberg [EBook #11339]
[2] (Musée La Fontaine) Site Officiel
[3] Jan M. Ziolkowski, Talking Animals: Medieval Latin Beast Poetry, 750-1150 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), p. 18.

Saint-Saëns – The Carnival of the Animals – XIV. Finale


Musée La Fontaine

© Micheline Walker
28 February 2017




Yazidi Refugees: Children and Women


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Yazidi children at the Kabarto camp (ALICE MARTINS/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS) (video)

I was writing another post, but I had news to share. Canada will be welcoming 1,200 Yazidi children. Some of these children fled ISIL and walked alone to camps. Others were accompanied by their mother. Many, if not most, have been abused and women were used as sex-slaves.


Iraqi Yazidis


A Yazidi Child

  1. Survivors: Nadia Murad (left) and Lamiya Aji Bashar escaped Isis enslavement to become advocates for Yazidis, and were last month awarded the EU’s Sakharov human rights prize AP
  2. A Yazidi child (Google Images)

The Genocide of Yazidis

ISIL’s persecution of the Yazidis “gained international attention and it directly led to the American-led intervention in Iraq, which started with United States airstrikes against ISIL.” (See American-led intervention in Iraq (2014 – present), Wikipedia.)

Pan-Islamism was the main cause of the Armenian genocide which began in the mid 1890’s under Sultan Abdulhamid II. (See Hamidian Massacres, Wikipedia). It is dated 1915, when the men were disarmed and orders issued to rape, enslave and kill the rest of the population. Earlier, in 1892, Sultan Abdulhamid II had also ordered a “campaign of mass conscription or murder of Yazidis as part of his campaign to Islamize the Ottoman Empire, which also targeted Armenians and other Christians.” (See Genocide of Yazidis by ISIL, Wikipedia.)

Abdul Hamid II is pictured below as a Şehzade (Prince).


Abdul Hamid II as Prince in Balmoral Castle, Scotland, 1867 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Armin T. Wegner (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Spread of Islamization

Islamization/Arabization spread all the way to the Iberian Peninsula. (See Islam in Spain, Wikipedia.) The Moors were exiled, but Moriscos still live in Spain. To my knowledge they are not Muslims. However, several North-African countries converted to Islam (Morocco, Algeria, etc.).

After the fall or the Byzantine Empire, at Constantinople, in 1534, the Ottomans also conquered several countries in Eastern Europe, nearly reaching Vienna. The inhabitants of these countries did not convert and were persecuted. However, there are Muslim communities in Eastern Europe.


The Yazidis are not Muslims. They are an ethnoreligious group whose religion is rooted in “ancient Mesopotamian religions and combines aspects of Zoroastrianism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism.” (See Yazidis, Wikipedia.)

They inhabited Northern Iraq and, recently, they have been protected by the Kurds, which did not prevent a genocide resembling the Armenian genocide. The goal is the same: Pan-Islamism. The men who would not convert were killed. In 1915, male Armenians were disarmed, sent on long walks to nowhere or killed. Their wives and children suffered intolerable abuse and women who could do so jumped to their death. The scenario has not changed. Most male Yazidis were separated from female Yazidis and their children. Those who refused to convert to Islam were killed by ISIL.

ISIL’s persecution of the Yazidis gained international attention and it directly led to the American-led intervention in Iraq, which started with United States airstrikes against ISIL. “Additionally, the US, UK, and Australia made emergency airdrops to Yazidis who had fled to a mountain range” and provided weapons to the “Kurdish Peshmerga defending them alongside PKK and YPG forces. ISIL’s actions against the Yazidi population resulted in approximately 500,000 refugees and several thousand killed and kidnapped.”

I will spare you further details, as I would be quoting the Wikipedia entry: Genocide of Yazidis by ISIL.


  • help (US, UK, Australia, Turkey)
  • Armin T. Wegner
  • Extremism

The Yazidis are hiding in moutains. They have been helped through air drops of supplies. Kurdish Peshmerga were provided with weapons to protect them. Weapons of all abominations! At this point, they must be flown to safety. Now we know why President Obama led a coalition fighting ISIL. He answered a call for help. No one helped the Armenians, but German soldier Armin T. Wegner took photographs.


Individuals whose ancestors or ethnically-related groups have committed crimes against humanity are not guilty. As well, far-right extremism is a universal affliction. United States President Donald Trump is currently conducting a major “cleansing” operation. He is also condemning difference. His actions are governed by pathological fear. However, a large number of Americans are fighting him and the courts oppose him.

Many ISIL terrorists are rebels without a cause who have travelled to the Middle East. As you know, there have been incidents reflecting Islamophobia in Canada. The worst is the Quebec City shooting. Alexandre Bissonnette’s twin has been hospitalized since his brother killed Muslims at the Grande Mosquée. Canada is protecting its Muslims and welcoming new ones.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) or Gendarmerie royale du Canada, an élite corps of policemen, have been helping people cross the border into Canada because, if left on their own, these individuals could be deported indiscriminately. These refugees are illegal immigrants and they are arrested and investigated. The RCMP/GRC must make sure individuals crossing the border are not criminals. However, people fleeing to Canada are human beings who have rights.

The Yazidis are mostly children or young adults who have been persecuted and most have lost their father. They may require medical support.


“Europe’s Child-Refugee Crisis” (The New Yorker)

Love to everyone 


Genocide of Yazidis in broad daylight


Arrival of the good Samaritan at the inn by Gustave Doré (WikiArt)

© Micheline Walker
25 February 2017

Expulsions & Fear


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Many Canadians fear refugees and some politicians oppose our providing free medical care to refugees. However, Canada’s Prime Minister has reversed a decision not to pay for the medical treatment of refugees. Some lost fingers. Moreover, Canada cannot allow refugees to bring diseases into the country.

In other words, the RCMP (the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) is overworked at the moment and so are civil servants. Everyone entering Canada must apply, but given that they may be deported, border-crossers may apply after they have entered the country to avoid the risk of being deported. Refugees who are not “criminals” will have a home in Canada. They now live in shelters and are fed properly.


A deported immigrant paused while crossing back into Tijuana, Mexico, after being returned by the United States immigration authorities in 2013. Credit John Moore/Getty Images


Under President Obama, the first to be deported were “people who had been convicted of dangerous crimes.”[1] Matters differ at the moment. First, there is a large number of undocumented “aliens” in the United States, and as Amy Davidson writes, “[t]he Trump executive order starts with the idea that criminal aliens are the problem, but then widens the definition of criminality and blurs its edges.”[2]

Various incidents, such as vandalism, point to a degree of anti-Semitism in the United States, which Mr Trump condemning. Yet, anti-Semitism is a form of xenophobia, fear of foreigners, and xenophobia is what is driving Mr Trump to deport “aliens.” These are not necessarily criminal aliens. The refugees who cross the border illegally know that Canada does not allow criminals to enter the country.

Among refugees crossing the border, many are not Muslims, but Mr Trump is planning another ban. Islamophobia on the part of the United States could lead to acts of terrorism. So, ironically, President Trump is fostering the violence he fears.

At this point, we return to fairy tales and pretty pictures. I have a niece who would say: “Tante Micheline, just pour yourself a glass of very good wine and enjoy.”

Our unexpected refugees just love Montreal!

Love to everyone 


[1]   Amy Davidson, “President Trump’s Fear-Based Immigration Orders,” The New Yorker, 21 Feb 2017.

[2]  Amy Davidson, loc. cit.

José Lemos Countertenor “Se l’aura spira” (Frescobaldi)


The Good Samaritan by Ferdinand Hodler, 1885 (WikiArt)

© Micheline Walker
22 February 2017

Canada: Refugees and CETA


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Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers assist a child from a family that claimed to be from Sudan as they walk across the U.S.-Canada border into Hemmingford, Canada, from Champlain in New York. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi



slide_515870_7255010_free (video)

Crossing the Border

The picture above shows a topsy-turvy world. A Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer is helping a family cross the U.S.-Canada border. An American border patrol, not shown, is trying to prevent them from entering Canada. They had to go through a gully where they had thrown their belongings. Without the help of the police they could not have entered Canada.

Both the American border patrol and the RCMP officer were doing what they had to do. One should keep in mind that the United States has welcomed people fleeing persecutions and oppression for most of its history. One of our WordPress colleagues remarked that the United States had been a lighthouse, a beacon, to the world. It is inhabited by immigrants and descendants of immigrants, many of whom are or have become prominent Americans.

Matters will be remedied, because Mr Trump’s policies are not “American.” They are a violation of the American Constitution. I watched a video showing a man carrying signatures, a petition, from people who are asking that Mr Trump be impeached.

For the time being, Canadians have been asked to shelter refugees who could be the victims of a particularly harsh winter day. I doubt that this reflects a formal policy, but one rescues people who endangered by a harsh winter and could be deported. However, one also dials 9-1-1 and informs the police.


Many Canadians are protesting against President Trump’s Islamophobia. However, Canada has not escaped a degree of Islamophobia. One Canadian killed 6 Muslims and wounded 5. Investigators reported that Alexandre Bissonnette, the Quebec City shooter, could not be associated to a terrorist organization. He had been influenced by the media as his Facebook accounted reflected. He admired Donald J Trump, the President of the United States, and Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s Front National. The shooting was investigated immediately and the shooter could not be linked to an Islamic terrorist group. Certain individuals would have liked to link the brutal attack on Muslims in Quebec City to an Islamic terrorist group.

Justin Trudeau travels to Europe

  • CETA
  • NATO

On Thursday, 16 February 2017, Justin Trudeau was in Strasbourg, France, where he addressed the European Parliament, which had ratified the Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement (CETA). CETA had been discussed since 2013, when it was proposed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Mr Trudeau’s predecessor. The agreement had to be modified in order to be ratified by the European Union, hence the delay. CETA must now be passed by the Canadian Parliament (the House of Commons) and approved by Canada’s Senate.

President Trump is promoting protectionism, which places limits on free trade. Canadians promote free trade between Canada and the European Union. However, CETA was not negotiated to oppose President Trump. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Chancellor Angela Merkel

Chancellor Merkel will commit a larger financial contribution to NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (l’Organisation du Traité de l’Atlantique Nord, OTAN). However, Canada will not. It will contribute otherwise. NATO is a military alliance.  He met with German Angela Merkel on Friday morning.


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany Friday, February 17, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)

Chancellor Merkel was close to former American president Barack Obama. Whether or not she will be close to Prime Minister Trudeau remains to be seen, but they had a congenial meeting and she gave him of photograph showing Trudeau père and 10-year-old Justin during a trip to Germany. When leaders talk, ordinary citizens live in a safer world.

Later on Friday, Canada’s prime minister was honoured at Hamburg’s St. Matthew’s Banquet, a black tie and tuxedo event. The Prime Minister did not speak about Mr Trump. However, when asked about Mr Trump, he was reassuring. He has been labelled the Anti-Trump. Not quite. Canada, however, has become home to 40,000 refugees from the Middle East: Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans. (See European migrant crisis, Wikipedia.)


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, centre, Hamburg Mayor Olaf Scholz, right, and German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, left, pose for photographers at city hall in Hamburg, Germany, on Friday. Trudeau later gave a speech talking about warding off populist anger by addressing middle-class anxiety. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)


During the past week, there were attempts to build bridges. The European Union was weakened by the European migrant crisis, which began in 2015. Brexit showed that people tend to fold up if they feel threatened. Nativism arises. The more salient example of this kind of behaviour is the 2016 American Election. Barring Muslims from entering the United States invites further radicalization and terrorism.

ISIL is a reality, but ISIL is an Islamic terrorist organization. Saying that all Muslims are terrorists is false and it is dangerous. So is building a wall to keep Mexicans out. It is divisive. The better path could be to boost the Mexican economy.

Love to everyone

Homemade music video for Salve Regina by Arvo Pärt. Performed by The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. Conducted by Paul Hillier.
(Images: Sátántangó, 1994)


The Charitable Samaritan by Rembrandt, 1638 (WikiArt)

© Micheline Walker
20 February 2017