Fragment 490618

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there are two sexes,

Original French:  ſont deux ſexes:

Modern French:  sont deux sexes:



Notes

Two sexes

Some Critticks will perhaps my writing tax
With falshood, and maintaine their shirts are flax,
To such as those, my answer shall be this,
That Flax the male and Hemp the female is,
And their engendring procreatiue seed
A thousand thousand helpes for man doth breed.
And as a man by glauncing vp his eye
Sees in the aire a flocke of wilde Geese flye :
And ducke, and woodcocks, of both sexes be
Though men doe name but one, for breuity.

John Taylor
The Praise of Hemp-Seed. With the Voyage of Mr. Roger Bird and the Writer hereof, in a Boat of browne-Paper, from London to Quinborough in Kent.
Folio Part III, page 62
1630
Renascence Editions

deux sexes

On voit que Rabelais connoissoit les deux sexes des plantes; mais qu’il parle ice du chanvre comme le peuple, qui appelle mâle le pied qui porte la graine, parcequ’il a une tête plus grosse que le chanvre qu’il appelle femelle, tandis que c’est le contraire.

François Rabelais [ca. 1483–1553]
Œuvres de Rabelais (Edition Variorum). Tome Cinquième
p. 263
Charles Esmangart [1736-1793], editor
Paris: Chez Dalibon, 1823
Google Books

deux sexes

Rabelais reconnoissoit les deux sexes chez les plantes; mais il suit l’opinion vulgaire en prenant pour le mâle la femelle qui porte la graine.

François Rabelais [ca. 1483–1553]
Œuvres de F. Rabelais. Nouvelle edition augmentée de plusieurs extraits des chroniques admirables du puissant roi Gargantua… et accompagnée de notes explicatives…
p. 305
L. Jacob (pseud. of Paul Lacroix) [1806–1884], editor
Paris: Charpentier, 1840

deux sexes

On a attribué à tort à Rabelais le mérite d’avoir parlé le premier de la sexualité chez les plantes. Si Aristote écrit que les végétaux mâles ne se distinguent point des végétaux femelles, par contre Théophraste écrit : « Arborum universarum… plures sane differentiæ intelliguntur… qua foemina masque distinguuntur » (Hist. Plant. III, 9). Et Pline parle couramment d’espèces mâle et femelles. Encore faut-il noter que ces mots, dans la langue des anciens botanistes, ne caractérisent le sexe que pour les plantes dioïques (palmier, figuier), Autrement, ils désignent seulement certaines différences morphologiques : mas signifie géneralement fort, vigoureux, ou moins fécond; foemina, faible; ou plus fécond. Ces mots s’inspirent encore de la similitude de certains végétaux avec les organes sexuels animaux; ou enfin ils constituent un simple expédient de nomenclature. Cf. Saint-Lager, Remarques hist. sur les mots plantes mâle et plantes femelles, Paris, Baillière, 1884, 48 p. in-8°. — Rabelais n’a certainement pas approfondi cette question, encore non résolue de son temps. Césalpin nie l’existence d’organes sexuels chez les plantes. Clusius est le premier à soupçonneur leur rôle.
Si Rabelais a véritablement voulu parler de la sexualité végeetale, la liste des plante qu’il donne comme pourvues de sexes distincts (dioïques) n’est pas impeccable, puisqu’elle range à côté du chanvre, du palmier, du térébinthe (dioïques), le chêne, l’yeuse, le cyprès (monoïques), le laurier, l’asphodèle, la mandragore, l’aristoloche, le pouliot, la pivoine (hermaphrodites), sans compter l’agaric qui a un mode de reproduction asexuè et les fougères, dont la génération compliquée ne fut élucidée qu’au XIXe siècle par Lesczyc-Suminsky et Hofmeister. (Paul Delaunay)

François Rabelais [ca. 1483–1553]
Oeuvres. Tome Cinquieme: Tiers Livre. Édition critique
p. 342
Abel Lefranc [1863-1952], editor
Paris: Librairie Ancienne Honoré Champion, 1931
Archive.org

two sexes

8. Taking, as was said, all trees according to their kinds, we find a number of differences. Common to them all is that by which men distinguish the ‘male’ and the ‘female,’ the latter being fruit-bearing, the former barren in some kinds. In those kinds in which both forms are fruit-bearing the ‘female’ has fairer and more abundant fruit; however some call these the ‘male’ trees—for there are those who actually thus invert the names. This difference is of the same character as that which distinguishes the cultivated from the wild tree, while other differences distinguish different forms of the same kind; and these we must discuss, at the same time indicating the peculiar forms, where these are not obvious and easy to recognise.…
9. The differences between other trees are fewer; for the most part men distinguish them merely according as they are ‘male’ or ‘female,’ as has been said, except in a few cases including the fir; for in this tree they distinguish the wild and the cultivated kinds, and make two wild kinds, calling one the ‘fir of Ida’ (Corsican pine) the other the ‘fir of the sea-shore’ (Aleppo pine); of these the former is straighter and taller and has thicker leaves, while in the latter the leaves are slenderer and weaker, and the bark is smoother and useful for tanning hides, which the other is not. Moreover the cone of the seaside kind is round and soon splits open, while that of the Idaean kind is longer and green and does not open so much, as being of wilder character. The timber of the seaside kind is stronger,—for one must note such differences also between trees of the same kind, since it is by their use that the different characters are recognised.
The Idaean kind is, as we have said, of straighter and stouter growth, and moreover the tree is altogether more full of pitch, and its pitch is blacker sweeter thinner and more fragrant when it is fresh; though, when it is boiled, it turns out inferior, because it contains so much watery matter. However it appears that the kinds which these people distinguish by special names are distinguished by others merely as ‘male’ and ‘female.’ The people of Macedonia say that there is also a kind of fir which bears no fruit whatever, in which the ‘male’ (Aleppo pine) is shorter and has harder leaves, while the ‘female’ (Corsican pine) is taller and has glistening delicate leaves which are more pendent. Moreover the timber of the ‘male’ kind has much heart-wood, is tough, and warps in joinery work, while that of the ‘female’ is easy to work, does not warp, and is softer.
This distinction between ‘male’ and ‘female’ may, according to the woodmen, be said to be common to all trees. Any wood of a ‘male’ tree, when one comes to cut it with the axe, gives shorter lengths, is more twisted, harder to work, and darker in colour; while the ‘female’ gives better lengths. For it is the ‘female’ fir which contains what is called the aigis; this is the heart of the tree; the reason being that it is less resinous, less soaked with pitch, smoother, and of straighter grain.

Theophrastus [c. 371-c. 287 BC]
Enquiry into Plants. Volume 1: Books 1 – 5
3.8
Arthur Hort [1864–1935], translator
Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1916
Loeb Classical Library

sexe des plantes

[Pantagruel] commenca à armer ses navires et il y fit notamment charger une grande quantité de l’herbe pantagruélion. Qu’est-ce que cette herbe pantagruélion? A en juger par la description que Rabelais nous en fait, s’est le chanvre. En quatre chapitres, l’autheur en définit les caractères, en expose les divers usages, en exalte les propriétés, en recommande les vertus. Et, dans ce morceau qui termine son troisième livre, il se montre botaniste exant autant qu’enthousiaste. Ce grand homme peut être cité parmi les créateurs de la botanique, car, le premier, il eut quelque idée du sex des plantes.

Anatole France [1844–1924]
Rabelais
p. 156
Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1928
Gallica

deux sexes

Les notions botaniques de R. sont, naturellement, celles de son temps. Mais cf. C. Estienne, Praedium rusticum, Paris, 1554, 436: «Mas ex flos versicolorium parit semen et oleosum: foemina albo est flore, marisque sterilitatem compensat.» [Male flower from seed and produces colored oily substance: the female is white flower, and air and sea compensates sterility.]

François Rabelais [ca. 1483–1553]
Le Tiers Livre. Edition critique
Michael A. Screech [b. 1926], editor
Paris-Genève: Librarie Droz, 1964

deux sexes

On trouve dans Cœlius Rhodiginus, Antiquae Lectiones, XX, 34, une large discussion sur la sexualité des végétaux. Un certain nombre de ses examples se retrouvent dans Rabelais. Le cas du palmier est particulièrement classique: c’est pour l’introduire que Pline, XIII, 4, fait cette remarque générale: «Tout ceux qui se sont estudiez à rechercher les secrets de Nature, disent qu’en tous les arbres, mesmes toutes choses qui procedent de la terre, y a masle et femelle.»

François Rabelais [ca. 1483–1553]
Le Tiers Livre. Edition critique
p. 448
Jean Céard, editor
Librarie Général Français, 1995

sexualité des végétaux

Arboribus, immo potius omnibus quae terra gignat herbisque etiam utrumque esse sexum diligentissimi naturae tradunt, quod in plenum satis sit dixisse hoc in loco, nullis tamen arboribus manifestius. mas in palmite floret, femina citra florem germinat tantum spicae modo. utrisque autem prima nascitur pomi caro, postea lignum intus; hoc est semen eius: argumentum quod parvae sine hoc reperiuntur in eodem palmite. est autem oblongum, non ut olivis orbiculatum, praeterea caesum a dorso pulvinata fissura, et in alvo media plerisque umbilicatum: inde primum spargitur radix.… cetero sine maribus non gignere feminas sponte edito nemore confirmant, circaque singulos plures nutare in eum pronas blandioribus comis; illum erectis hispidum adflatu visuque ipso et pulvere etiam reliquas maritare; huius arbore excisa viduvio2 post sterilescere feminas. adeoque est veneris intellectus ut coitus etiam excogitatus sit ab homine e maribus flore ac lanugine, interim vero tantum pulvere insperso femin

The most devoted students of nature report that trees, or rather indeed all the products of the earth and even grasses, are of both sexes, a fact which it may at this place be sufficient to state in general terms, although in no trees is it more manifest than in the palm. A male palm forms a blossom on the shoot, whereas a female merely forms a bud like an ear of corn, without going on to blossom. In both male and female, however, the flesh of the fruit forms first and the woody core afterwards; this is the seed of the tree—which is proved by the fact that small fruits without any core are found on the same shoot…
For the rest, it is stated that in a palm-grove of natural growth the female trees do not produce if there are no males, and that each male tree is surrounded by several females with more attractive foliage that bend and bow towards him; while the male bristling with leaves erected impregnates the rest of them by his exhalation and by the mere sight of him, and also by his pollen; and that when the male tree is felled the females afterwards in their widowhood become barren. And so fully is their sexual union understood that mankind has actually devised a method of impregnating them by means of the flower and down collected from the males, and indeed sometimes by merely sprinkling their pollen on the females.

Pliny the Elder [23–79 AD]
The Natural History. Volume 4: Books 12–16
13.07
Harris Rackham [1868–1944], translator
Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1945
Loeb Classical Library

deux sexes

Cette particularité était connue des Anciens. Une partie des exemples cités par Rabelais est estimée inexacte par les botanixtes d’aujourd’hui.

François Rabelais [ca. 1483–1553]
Le Tiers Livre
p. 554
Pierre Michel, editor
Paris: Gallimard, 1966

deux sexes

Pour les erreurs de Rabelais sur la sexualité des diverses plantes citées, voir Tier livre, éd. Lefranc, p. 342–344.

François Rabelais [ca. 1483–1553]
Œuvres complètes
p. 502, n 2
Mireille Huchon, editor
Paris: Gallimard, 1994

mercury, girl’s

Etymology:  < the genitive of girl n. + mercury n. (compare mercury n. 10), so called on account of the plant's supposed property of inducing the generation of female children. Compare Hellenistic Greek θηλυγόνον ( > classical Latin thēlygonon (Pliny)), use as noun (short for ϕύλλον θηλυγόνον ) of neuter of θηλυγόνος promoting the conception of females (compare quot. 1578).
 
The male of either of two plants of the genus Mercurialis, M. tomentosa and M. annua, formerly supposed to have the property of inducing the generation of female children.

1578   H. Lyte tr. R. Dodoens Niewe Herball i. lii. 78   Phyllon… The male is called ἀρρενογόνον, whiche may be Englished Barons Mercury or Phyllon, or Boyes Mercury or Phyllon. And the female is called in Greeke θηλυγόνον: and this kinde may be called in English Gyrles Phyllon or Mercury, Daughters Phyllon, or Mayden Mercury.

1886   J. Britten & R. Holland Dict. Eng. Plant-names,   Girl’s Mercury. The male plant of Mercurialis annua.., erroneously believed by older writers to be the female.


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Posted 10 February 2013. Modified 10 February 2017.

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