On the tenth black night the gods brought me to the isle, Ogygia, where the fair-tressed Calypso dwells, a dread goddess.” So Odysseus recalled the seven years he spent on Ogygia, after his ship and all his comrades were lost in a sudden storm—the first thunderbolt brought the mast down on the helmsman’s head. Odysseus placed the isle “far off in the sea;” Plutarch, in On the Face in the Moon, said that the island was in the vicinity of Atlantis, about five days west of Britain; Kepler, sniffing geographical clues in theTimaeus of Plato, identified Ogygia with Thule, or Greenland; Brewer locates it in Upper Egypt, near Cathay; Barbeau thinks it was fast by Canada; Panurge, who prompted the expedition there, said the group of islands was near the port of Saint-Malo; others locate Calypso’s island in the Carribean, where lampoon and doggerel echo off tin roofs into the tropical night.
The voyage to Ogygia was suggested to Panurge while he was discussing with Epistemon his fancy to get married, and his fear of being made a cuckold. Epistemon pined for the advice of the ancient oracles, those of Jupiter in Ammon, those of Apollo in Delphi, Præneste, and elsewhere. But he feared they had all been “struck dumber than fish by the coming of our Saviour and King.” Besides, he warned, many people were deceived by the oracle’s reply.
Panurge knew of an oracle which predicted, in plain and unambiguous language, what destiny the Fates had spinning. In the Ogygian Isles, on the westernmost of the four, lies Cronus, bound by his son Zeus to the hollow of a rock with fine golden chains—a fit fate for old Father Time, who mercilessly shaved off the balls of his own father before him. Cronus was fed on ambrosia and divine nectar, brought to him daily by the same crows which fed the apostle Paul in the desert. Learned Epistemon called the story of Cronos an obvious imposture, a fabulous fable, and a hoax; he vowed not to go on the journey; but go he did.
Panurge urgency to visit the oracle was redoubled after his audience with Triboulet, the court fool of François I of France. Among the offerings which Panurge brought to Triboulet was a bottle of wine. Taking hold of it, Triboulet started to shake and his head started to wobble, which reminded Panurge of the Pythoness at Delphi, shaking her laurel branch. Without warning, the fool gave Panurge a great punch between the shoulders and a tweak on the nose—“That will signify some little fooleries my wife and I will get up to, as all newly married couples do,” thought Panurge When Triboulet shoved the bottle back into Panurge’s hand, Panurge renewed his vow to “wear spectacles on my cap and no codpiece in my breeches, until I have the Holy Bottle’s answer to my question.” Panurge knew a discrete fellow, a close personal friend, who knew the place, the land, and the country where this temple and oracle were. Those interested in the outcome of the voyage are referred to Books Four and Five
Some Doctors of the Sorbonne charge that the affair of the bottle is a disguised satire on the Church, the celibacy of the clergy being a moot point of great difficulty, and the holy bottle or cup to the laity causing the great schisms from the Roman Catholic Church. The crew setting sail for the bottle refers to Anthony, Duke of Verdome, afterwards King of Navarre, setting out in search of religious truth. The anthem sung before the fleet set sail was “When Israel went out of bondage,” and all the emblems of the ships bore the proverb, In vino veritas.
Every thirty years, when Cronus’s star, which we call ‘Saturn’ and the Ogygians call ‘Night Watchman’, enters the sign of the Bull, the inhabitants of the fragrant isles of Ogygia send forth expeditions to settle in foreign lands.
Le quatrième livre est rempli tout entier par le voyage de Pantagruel et de ses compagnons à la recherche de la Dive Boutille. Quel est ce voyage? M. Abel Fefranc, professeur au Collège de France, croit pouvoir répondre avec certitude: «C’est celui qui a tant occupé les esprits des géographes et des navigateurs depuis le temps de la Renaissance jusqu’au nôtre: le voyage de la côte d’Europe à la côte occidentale d’Asie par le fameux passage du Nord-Ouest, au nord de l’Amérique, tant de fois vainement cherché et dont on n’a constaté définitivement l’impossibilité pratique qu’i y a peu d’années.»
Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1928
Il faudra la consultation du fou Triboullet pour qu’enfin Panurge prenne l’initiative d’une consultation, celle de la Bouteille. Le chapitre XLVII, où il formule ce dessein, mérite l’attention. Curieusement la critique l’a peu remarqué, alors qu’on y voit les rôles s’inverser, et Panurge jouer, jusque dans le détail, le rôle jusque-là dévolu à Pantagruel, tandis que ce dernier a maintenant toutes les lenteurs et les timidités dont auparavant son élève faisait montre. On dirait que Pantagruel endosse le vêtement de son élève, tandis que Panurge prend la place du maître. Nous ne savons pas, au terme du Tiers Livre, quelle sera l’issue de la consultation décidée par Panurge, mais peu importe : l’essentiel est que cette décision soit venue de lui. Le chapitre XLVII s’intitule encore : « Comment Pantagruel et Panurge deliberent visiter l’oracle de la Dive Bouteille », et, dans cette expédition, Panurge promet d’être le meilleur des compagnons de voyage, l’Achate de ce nouvel Enée ; mais, quand Gargantua, au chapitre suivant, donne son consentement, il dit à son fils : « Apprestez vous au voyage de Panurge » (p. 443). Panurge a bien désormais la première place. Education réussie : l’élève a appris à se passer du maître.
Présentation du Tiers Livre
We find ample proof that every one, in the entourage of François I shared their king’s belief that Cathay and the Kingdom of Saguenay were second to none in riches and marvels, not even to the land of the Montezumas and the Incas then fallen to the hands of Cortes and the Spaniards.
[the Desceliers Mappemonde of 1546] draws from information given by the Stadacona chief Donnacona and other natives captured by Cartier and kept for a few years until their death, in France.
Pantagruel in Canada
Ottawa: National Museums of Canada, 1984