who prayed well for the voyage of his son



who prayed well for the voyage of his son

Original French:  luy bien priãt pour le voyage de ſon filz,

Modern French:  luy bien priant pour le voyage de son filz,

“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 the Timaeus 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.

The voyage to Ogygia was suggested to Panurge while he was continuing his discussing with Epistemon about 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, 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’s 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. The outcome of the voyage is the subject of Books Four and Five of Gargantua and Pantagruel.

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’ star, which we call Saturn and the Ogygians call Night Watchman, enters the sign of the Bull, the inhabitants of the isles of Ogygia send forth expeditions to settle in foreign lands.


Comment Pantagruel & Panurge delibèrent visiter l’oracle de la Dive Bouteille.

Voy cy bien un aultre poinct, lequel ne consyderez. Est toutesfoys le neu de la matière. Il m’a rendu en main la bouteille. Cela que signifie? Qu’est ce à dire?

Par adventure (respondit Pantagruel) signifie que vostre femme sera yvroigne.

Au rebours, (dist Panurge) car elle estoit vuide. Ie vous iure l’espine de sainct Fiacre en Brye, que nostre Morosophe l’unicque non Lunaticque Triboullet me remet à la Bouteille. Et ie refraischiz de nouveau mon veu premier, & iure Styx & Acheron en vostre praesence, lunettes au bonnet porter, ne porter braguette à mes chausses, que sus mon entreprinse ie n’aye eu le mot de la Dive Bouteille. Ie sçay homme prudent & amy mien, qui sçait le lieu, le pays, & la contrée en laquelle est son temple & oracle. Il nous y conduira sceurement. Allons y ensemble, ie vous supply ne me esconduire. Ie vous seray un Achates, un Damis, & compaignon tout le voyage. Ie vous ay de long temps congneu amateur de peregrinité & desyrant tousiours veoir, & tousiours apprendre. Nous voirons choses admirables, & m’en croyez.

Voluntiers, (respondit Pantagruel) Mais avant nous mettre en ceste longue peregrination plène de hazard, plène de dangers evidens.

Quelz dangiers? dist Panurge interrompant le propous. Les dangiers se refuyent de moy, quelque part que ie soys, sept lieues à la ronde: comme advenent le prince, cesse le magistrat: advenent le Soleil, esvanouissent les tenèbres: & comme les maladies fuyoient à la venue du corps sainct Martin à Quandé.

A propous, dist Pantagruel, avant nous mettre en voye, de certains poincts nous fault expedier. Premierement renvoyons Triboullet à Bloys (Ce que feut faict à l’heure: & luy donna Pantagruel une robbe de drap drop frizé). Secondement nous fault avoir l’advis & congié du Roy mon père. Plus nous est besoing trouver quelque Sibylle pour guyde & truchement.

Panurge respondit que son amy Xenomanes leurs suffiroit, & d’abondant deliberoit passer le pays de Lanternoys, & là prendre quelque docte & utile Lanterne, laquelle leur seroit pour ce voyage, ce que feut la Sibylle à Aeneas descendent es champs Elisiens. Carpalim passant pour la conduicte de Triboullet, entendit ce propous, & s’escria disant, Panurge ho, monsieur le quite, pren Millort Debitis à Calais, car il est goud fallot, & n’oublie debitoribus, ce sont lanternes. Ainsi auras & fallot & lanternes. Mon prognostic est (dist Pantagruel) que par le chemin nous ne engendrerons melancholie. Ià clairement ie l’apperçois. Seulement me desplaist que ne parle bon Lanternoys.

Ie (respondit Panurge) le parleray pour vous tous, ie l’entends comme le maternel, il m’est usité comme le vulgaire.

Brifzmarg d’algotbric nubstzne zos
Isqubfgz prusq, albortz crinqs zacbac.
Misbe dilbarlkz morp nipp stancz bos.
Strombtz Panrge walmap quost grusz bac.

Or devine Epistemon, que c’est?

Ce sont (respondit Epistemon) noms de Diables errans, diables passans, diables rampans.

Tes parolles sont brayes (dist Panurge) bel amy. C’est le courtisan langaige Lanternoys. Par le chemin ie t’en feray un beau petit dictionnaire, lequel ne durera guères plus qu’une paire de souliers neufz. Tu l’auras plus toust aprins, que iour levant sentir. Ce que i’ay dict translaté de Lanternoys en vulgaire, chante ainsi.

Tout malheur estant amoureux,
M’accompaignoit: oncq n’y eu bien.
Gens mariez plus sont heureux,
Panurge l’est, & le sçait bien.

Reste doncques (dist Pantagruel) le vouloir du Roy mon père entendre, & licence de luy avoir.

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Le Tiers Livre des Faicts et Dicts Heroïques du bon Pantagruel: Composé par M. Fran. Rabelais docteur en Medicine. Reueu, & corrigé par l’Autheur, ſus la cenſure antique. L’Avthevr svsdict ſupplie les Lecteurs beneuoles, ſoy reſeruer a rire au ſoixante & dixhuytieſme Liure. Paris: Michel Fezandat, 1552. Chapter 47. Les Bibliotèques Virtuelles Humanistes

CHAPTER XLVII. How Pantagruel and Panurge determine to visit the Oracle of the Holy Bottle

“HERE is yet another Point, which you do not consider; and yet it is the Knot of the Matter. He gave me back the Bottle into my Hand. What does that signify ? What is the Meaning of that?”

“Perchance,” answered Pantagruel, “it signifies that your Wife will be a Drunkard.”

“Quite the Contrary,” said Panurge; “for the Bottle was empty. I swear to you by the Backbone [1] of St. Fiacre in Brie that our Morosoph, the unique [2], not lunatic, Triboulet, refers me to the Bottle, and I renew afresh my former Vow, and I swear by Styx and Acheron, in your Presence, still to wear Spectacles in my Bonnet, never to wear Cod-piece to my Breeches, until I have had the Word of the Holy Bottle on my Enterprise. I know a discreet Man and a Friend of mine, who knows the Place, the Land and the Country in which is its Temple and Oracle. He will conduct us there safely. Let us go thither together. I entreat you not to put me off. I will be for you an Achates, a Damis [3], and Companion throughout the Voyage. I have long known you to be fond of travelling and desirous of ever seeing and ever learning. We shall see wonderful Things, take my Word for it.”

“Willingly,” replied Pantagruel; “but before entering upon this long Peregrination, full of Hazard, full of evident Dangers — ”

“What Dangers ? ” said Panurge, interrupting. “Dangers fly from me, wherever I may be, for seven Leagues around, just as when the Prince comes the Magistrate surceases, when the Sun breaks forth the Darkness vanishes, and as Diseases fly at the coming of the Body of St. Martin of Quande.” [4]

“By the way,” said Pantagruel, “before setting forward there are certain Points we must despatch.

“First, let us send back Triboulet to Blois.” (This was done at once, and Pantagruel gave him a frieze Coat.)

“Secondly, we must have the Advice and Leave of the King my Father.

“Moreover, we must needs find some Sibyl, for Guide and Inter- preter.”

Panurge replied that his Friend Xenomanes [5] would suffice for them ; besides which, he intended to pass by the Country of a Lantern-land and there to take a learned and useful Lanterness, who for this Voyage would be for them what the Sibyl was to Aeneas in his Descent into the Elysian Fields.

Carpalim, as Escort to Triboulet, was passing by, and heard this Remark, and shouted, “Ho, Panurge, Master Freeman [6], take Milord Debitis [7] (Deputy) at Calais, for he is a good Fellow (goud fallot) ; and do not forget ‘our Debtors,’ that is, Lanterns ; so shalt thou have Torch and Lanterns too.”

” My Prognostication is,” said Pantagruel, ” that we shall not engender Melancholy on the Way; that I clearly see already; only it liketh me not that I cannot talk good Lantern-language.”

“I will speak it for you all,” answered Panurge. ” I understand it as my Mother-tongue. It is as familiar to me as the Vernacular.

Brizmarg d’algotbric nubstzne zos,
Isquebfz prusq alborcz, crinqs zacbac.
Misbe dilbarkz morp nipp stancz bos,
Strombtz, Panurge walmap quost grufz bac. [8]

“There, Epistemon, guess what that is.”

“It is,” answered Epistemon, ” the Names of Devils errant, Devils passant and Devils rampant.”

“Thy Words are true, my fine Friend,” said Panurge. ” It is the Court Language of Lantern-land. On our Journey I will make thee a pretty little Dictionary of it, which will not last thee much longer than
a Pair of new Shoes. For thou wilt have mastered it before thou perceivest the Sun rising next day. What I said, translated from Lanternese into the vulgar Tongue, runs thus :

I was in Love, and Ill-luck ever
Waited on me : Nought went right.
Happier those whom none can sever :
Panurge is, and knows it quite.”

“There remains then,” said Pantagruel, “to learn the Will of my Father and to obtain Leave from him.”

Smith’s notes to chapter 47.

1. This was a relic preserved in the cathedral at Meaux. There is an adjura-tion of this saint in ii. II. It was an innkeeper in the Rue St. Antoine, à l’image de Saint Fiacre, who invented fiacres at the beginning of the 18th century.

2. Bernardo d’ Accolti, at the court of Leo X., obtained the title of l’unique from his talent as improvisatore.

3. Achates, the well-known companion of Aeneas in Virgil. Cf. ii. 9. Damis, the constant companion of Apollonius of Tyana.

4. Cande is a town in Touraine where St. Martin died, and from whence his body was carried to Tours. Cf. Legenda Aurea, c. 166 sub fin.

5. Xenomanes = mad on foreigners. Some commentators identify Xenomanes withthe poet and historian Jean Bouchet, who took for his title Traverseur des votes perilleuses, a title given later on to Xenomanes by Rabelais, iii. 49 and iv. I (Lacroix).

6. Panurge had a horror of being quitte, ‘free of debts.’ Cf. iii. 5

7. Carpalim here makes a profane joke on Matt. vi. 12 : “Et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.” Cf. ii. I, n. 5. Henry Fitz-Alan, Earl of Arundel, was at this time Governor of Calais, Lord-Deputy. (Query: Should debitis in the text be read debita, which is nearer Deputy ?) There is also the play upon fallot, a torch, and the English fellow. There is probably an obscene allusion in lanternes.

8. Brizmarg, etc. This is one of the languages that Panurge speaks in ii. 9. A gibe is clearly intended here against the jargon of the Church-fathers who attended the Lateran Council.

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), The Five Books and Minor Writings. Volume 1: Books I-III. William Francis Smith (1842–1919), translator. London: Alexader P. Watt, 1893. p. 579. Internet Archive

Le voyage

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.»

France, Anatole (1844–1924), Rabelais. Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1928. p. 167. Gallica


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.

Barbeau, Marius, Pantagruel in Canada. Ottawa: National Museums of Canada, 1984.

Le voyage

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.

Céard, Jean, Présentation du Tiers Livre. 2006. Vox Poetica



Posted 9 February 2013. Modified 24 January 2019.

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