Fragment 510160



the seed of willow, to vicious nuns;

Original French:  la ſemence de Saule, aux Nonnains vitieuſes:

Modern French:  la semence de Saule, aux Nonnains vitieuses:

Among the examples of pairings whose antipathies are not as vehement as the hatred thieves have of a certain usage of Pantagruelion.




Schöffer, Peter (ca. 1425–ca. 1502.), [R]ogatu plurimo[rum] inopu[m] num[m]o[rum] egentiu[m] appotecas refuta[n]tiu[m] occasione illa, q[uia] necessaria ibide[m] ad corp[us] egru[m] specta[n]tia su[n]t cara simplicia et composita. Mainz: 1484. Plate 136. Botanicus

Willow-seed to vicious Nuns

Pliny xvi. 26, § 46. Homer, Od. x. 510.

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. Internet Archive

la semence de Saule, aux Nonnains vitieuses

But when in thy ship thou hast now crossed the stream of Oceanus, where is a level shore and the groves of Persephone— tall poplars, and willows that shed their fruit—there do thou beach thy ship by the deep eddying Oceanus, but go thyself to the dank house of Hades.

Homer (8th Century B.C.), Odyssey. A. T. Murray, translator. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1909. 10.510. Perseus

seed of willow

ocissime autem salix amittit semen, antequam omnino maturitatem sentiat, ob id dicta Homero frugiperda; secuta aetas scelere suo interpretata est hanc sententiam, quando semen salicis mulieri sterilitatis medicamentum esse constat. sed in hoc quoque providens natura facile nascenti et depacto surculo incuriosius semen dedit

But it is the willow that loses its seed most quickly, before it approaches ripeness at all. This is the reason why Homer gives it the epithet ‘fruit-losing’; but succeeding ages have interpreted the meaning of the word in the light of its own wicked conduct, inasmuch as it is well known that willow seed taken as a drug produces barrenness in a woman. But Nature, showing her foresight in this matter also, has been rather careless about bestowing seed on a tree that is propagated easily even from a planted sprig.

Pliny the Elder (23–79 AD), The Natural History. Volume 4: Books 12–16. Harris Rackham (1868–1944), translator. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1945. 16.26.46. Loeb Classical Library

la semence de saule aux nonnains vitieuses

«Semen salicis mulieri sterilitatis medicamentum esse constat», dit Pline, XVI, 46. «L’écorce, les feuilles et la semence du Saule sont astringentes et rafrîchissantes, dit Lemery; on en fait prendre la décoction pour arrêter les ardeurs de Vénus». (Dict. les drogues simples, p. 770.) La pharmacopée emploie encore comme antispasmodique le Salix nigra. (Paul Delaunay)

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Oeuvres. Édition critique. Tome Cinquieme: Tiers Livre. Abel Lefranc (1863-1952), editor. Paris: Librairie Ancienne Honoré Champion, 1931. p. 360. Internet Archive


Encore une fois, la plupart de ces exemples se retrouvent dans le De latinis nominibus de Charles Estienne. Le nenufar et la semence de saule sont des antiaphrodisiaques. La ferula servait, dans l’Antiquité, à fustiger les écoliers (cf. Martial, X, 62-10).

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

la semence de Saule, aux Nonnains vitieuses:

Considérée comme antiaphrodisiaque.

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Œuvres complètes. Mireille Huchon, editor. Paris: Gallimard, 1994. p. 506, n. 2.



Posted 8 February 2013. Modified 10 June 2017.

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