Chapter 51

Why it is called Pantagrelion, and the admirable virtues thereof.

In these manners (except the fabulous, because of the fable God is not pleased to be used in this so veritable history) is called the herb Pantagruelion. Because Pantagruel was the inventor of it. I speak not of the plant, but pertaining to a certain usage, which is more abhorred and hated by thieves, more to them is contrary and enemy, than is the teigne and cuscute to flax, than the reed to the fern, than horse-tail to mowers, than orobanche to chickpeas, ægilops to barley, hatchet fitch to lentils, antranium to beans, darnel to wheat, ivy to walls, than the nenuphar and Nymphaea heraclia to ribald monks, than is the ferule and the boulas to the scholars of Navarre, than is cabbage to the vine; garlic to the lodestone; onion to the sight; the seed of fern, to pregnant women; the seed of willow, to vicious nuns; the shade of yew, to those sleeping under; aconite, to leopards and wolves; the smell of the fig, to mad bulls; hemlock to goslings; purslane to teeth; oil to trees. Because due to it [we] have seen by such usage finish their life high and short: by the example of Phyllis, queen of Thrace; of Bonosus, emperor of Rome; of Amate, wife of king Latin; of Iphis, Auctolia, Lycambes, Arachne, Phaedra, Leda, Acheus king of Lydia, and others; by this sole indignity, without being otherwise sick, by the Pantagruelion one obstructs the conduits by which exit the good words, and enter the good morsels, more villainously than ever did the bad angina and mortal quinsy.

Others have been heard on the instant Atropos was cutting the thread of life, to grievously complain and lament that Pantagruel held them by the throat. But (alack) it was never Pantagruel. He did not once break on the wheel, it was Pantagruelion, doing the office of a halter, and serving them for a scarf. And [they] spoke improperly and in solecism. Unless one excuses them by the figure of a synedoche, taking the invention for the inventor. As one takes Ceres for bread, Bacchus for wine. I swear to you here by the good words which are within this bottle here which is cooling in this tub, that the noble Pantagruel never took anyone by the throat unless it were those who are negligent in preventing the imminent thirst.

Otherwise [it] is called Pantagruelion by similitude. Because Pantagruel when born into the world was as tall as the herb of which I speak to you, and one could take the measure easily, seeing that he was born in the season of drought, when one gathers the said herb, and when the dog of Icarus by the baying that he makes at the sun, renders all the world troglodytic, and constrained to live in caves and subterranean places.

Otherwise it is called Pantagruelion by its virtues and singularities. Because as Pantagruel has been the idea and example of all joyous perfection (I believe that none of you other drinkers are in doubt) so in Pantagruelion I recognize so many virtues, so much energy, so much perfection, such admirable effects, that if it had in its qualities been recognized when the trees ( by the relation of the Prophet) made election of a King of Woods to rule and dominate them, it would without doubt have carried the plurality of votes and suffrages. Shall I say more? If Oxylus son of Orius had begotten it on his sister Hamadryas, more in the sole value of it he would have delighted, than in all those eight children so celebrated by our mythologists, who have their names placed in eternal memory. The eldest daughter was named Vine. the son born next was named Fig, another Walnut, another Oak, another Sorb-apple, another Fenabregue, another Poplar, and the last was named Elm, and was a great surgeon in his time.

I forgo telling you how the juice of it expressed and instilled in the ears kills all kinds of vermin, which are bred there by putrefaction, and all other animals which have entered there. If of its juice you put in a bucket of water, suddenly you will see the water thicken, as if it were curds, so great are its virtues. And the water thus curdled is the immediate remedy for horses with colic, and which strike their flanks. The root of it cooked in water mollifies shrunken nerves, the contracted joints, sclerotic gout of the feet, and gout of the joints. If [you] promptly would heal a burn, be it from water, or be it from fire, apply to it of Pantagruelion crude, that is to say such as it is borne of the earth, without other preparation or composition. And be on guard to change it as soon as you see it drying on the hurt. Without it would the kitchens be disgraceful, the tables detestable, though they were covered in all exquisite viands, the beds would be without delight, though they were done up in abundance of gold, silver, amber, ivory, and porphyry. Without it the millers couldn’t carry grain to the mill, nor bring back flour. Without it how would the pleadings of advocates be brought to the hearing? Without it how would plaster be carried to the workshop? Without it how would water be drawn from the well? Without it what would do the notaries, the clerks, the secretaries, and writers? Wouldn’t perish the toll-rates and rent-rolls? Wouldn’t perish the noble art of printing? Of what would be made the chassis? How would one ring the bells? With it are the Isiacques adorned, the Pastaphores clad, all human nature covered in the first position. All the wool-bearing trees of the Seres, the cotton trees of Tyle in the Persian Sea, the swans of the Arabs, the vines of Malta, do not attire so many people, as this herb alone. Covers armies against cold and rain, more certainly commodiously than formerly did skins. Covers the theaters and amphitheaters against the heat, encircles the woods and copses for the pleasure of hunters, descends into water fresh and marine to the profit of fishers. By it are boots, buskins, high-lows, spatter-dashes, brodkins, shoes, pumps, slippers, clouted shoon put in form and usage By it are the bows strung, the cross-bows bended, the slings made. And as if were a sacred herb, of the nature of Vervain, and revered by the Manes and Lemures the deceased human body without it is never buried.

I will say more. By means of this herb the invisible substances visibly are arrested, taken in detention, and as in prison put. At their capture and arrest are great and heavy millstones easily turned to the notable profit of human life. And I marvel how the invention of such usage was for so many centuries hidden from the ancient philosophers, in view of the priceless utility which proceeds from it, and in view of the intolerable labor which without it they underwent in their mills. By its means, by the retention of gusty air are the great ships, the ample sleeping barges, the mighty galleons, the ships of a thousand and ten thousand hands from their stations launched, and propelled at the discretion of their commanders. By means of it, are the nations, which nature seemed to hold hidden, impermeable, and unknown, come to us, us to them. Something which birds couldn’t accomplish, however light of plumage that they are, and whatever liberty of swimming in the air is given them by Nature. Taprobana has seen Lapland; Java has seen the Riphean mountains; Phebol shall see Theleme; the Icelanders and Greenlanders will drink the Euphrates. By it Boreas has seen the manor of Auster; Eurus has visited Zephire. In a manner that the celestial intelligences, the marine gods as well as the terrestrial, became by it all frightened seeing that by the usage of this blessed Pantagruelion, the people of the Arctic, in plain view of the Antarctic, jumped the Atlantic Ocean, pass the two Tropics, toss under the Torrid Zone, measure all the Zodiac, disport under the Equinoctial, having the one and the other Pole in view on the level of their horizon. The Olympic gods were in the same fright saying, Pantagruel has put us in thoughts new and painful, more then ever did the Aloides, by the usage and virtues of his herb. He will soon be married, from his wife will come children. This destiny we cannot contravene; because it has passed by the hands and spindles of the fatal sisters, daughters of Necessity. By his children (perhaps) will be invented an herb of similar energy: by means of which humans may visit the sources of the hail, the floodgates of the rains, and the workshops of the thunderbolts. [They] will be able to invade the regions of the Moon, enter the territory of the celestial signs, and there take lodging, some at the Golden Eagle, others at the Ram, others at the Crown, others at the Harp, others at the Silver Lion; sit at table with with us, and our goddesses take to wife, which are the only means to become deified. Finally they put the remedy of obviating it in deliberation, and to council.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *