seeing that he was born in the season of drought

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seeing that he was born in the season of drought,

Original French:  veu qu’il naſquit on temps de alteration,

Modern French:  veu qu’il nasquit on temps de alteration,



Notes

De la nativité du tresredoubté Pantagruel. Cha.ii.

Gargantua en son aage de quattre cens quattre vingtz quarante & quattre ans engendra son fils Pantagruel de sa femme nommée Badebec fille du Roy des Amaurotes en Utopie, laquelle mourut de mal d’enfant: car il estoit si grand & si lourd, qu’il ne put venir à lumiere, sans ainsi suffocquer la mere. Mais pour entendre pleinement la cause et raison de son nom qui luy fut baillé en baptesme: Vous noterez que celle année il y avoit une si grand seicheresse en tout le pays de Affricque, pour ce qu’il y avoit passé plus de xxxvi. moys sans pluye, avec chaleur de soleil si vehesmente, que toute la terre en estoit aride. Et ne fut point au temps de Helye plus eschauffée que fut pour lors. Car il n’y avoit arbre sus terre qu’il eust ny feuille ny fleur, les herbes estoient sans verdeur, les rivieres taries, les fontaines à sec, les pauvres poissons delaissez de leurs propres elements vagans et cryans par la terre horriblement, les oyseaulx tumbans de l’air par faulte de rosée, les loups, les regnars, cerfs, sangliers, daims, lievres, connils, bellettes, foynes, blereaux & aultres bestes l’on trouvoit par les champs mortes la gueule baye. Et au regard des hommes, c’estoit la grande pitié, vous les eussiez veus tirans la langue comme levriers qui ont couru six heures. Plusieurs se gettoient dedans les puys, d’aultres se mettoient au ventre d’une vache pour estre à l’umbre: & les appelle Homere Alibantes. Toute la contrée estoit à l’ancre: c’estoit pitoyable de veoir le travail des humains pour se guarantir de ceste horrificque alteration. Car il y avoit prou affaire de saulver l’eau benoiste par les esglises qu’elle ne feust desconfite: mais l’on y donna tel ordre par le conseil de messieurs les cardinaulx & du sainct pere, que nul n’en osoit prendre qu’une venue: Encores quand quelqu’ung entroit en l’esglise, vous en eussiez veu à vingtaines de pauvres alterez qui venoient au derriere de celluy qui la distribuoit à quelqu’ung la gueulle ouverte pour en avoir quelque petite goutelette: comme le maulvais Riche, affin que rien ne se perdit. O que bienheureux fut en ceste année celuy qui eut cave fraische & bien garnie.

Rabelais, François (1494?–1553), Les horribles et espouvantables faictz & prouesses du tresrenommé Pantagruel Roy des Dipsodes, filz du grand geant Gargantua, Composez nouvellement par maistre Alcofrybas Nasier. Les horribles et espouvantables faictz & prouesses du tresrenommé Pantagruel Roy des Dipsodes, filz du grand geant Gargantua, Composez nouvellement par maistre Alcofrybas Nasier. Lyon: Claude Nourry, 1532. Chapter 2. Bibliothèque nationale de France

alteration

Alteration: An alteration, change, or changing; also, thirst, or drouth.
Alteré: Altered, changed, varied, different from what was; falsified, sophisticated; also, drie, athirst, almost dried up; also, extremely passionat, exceedingly angered, or moved; in a chafe, in a flame.
Alterer. To alter, change, varie, turne from what was; also, to adulterate, falsifie, sophisticate; also, to breed, or increase thirst, or drouth; to make drie, or adrie; to drie up.
s’alterer. To grow drie, or athirst; also, to fall in a chafe, or grow into choler.

Cotgrave, Randle (–1634?), A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongue. London: Adam Islip, 1611. PBM

CHAPTER II Of the Nativity of the very redoubted Pantagruel

GARGANTUA at the Age of four hundred fourscore forty and four Years begat his Son Pantagruel on his Wife, named Badebec, Daughter of the King of the Amaurots in Utopia, who died in Childbirth ; for he was so wonderfully big and heavy that it was impossible for him to come into the World without thus suffocating his Mother.

But to understand fully the Cause and Reason for his Name, which was given him at Baptism, you will note that in that Year there was so great a Drought throughout all the Land of Africa that there passed thirty-six Months, three Weeks, four Days, thirteen Hours and some little more without Rain, with the Sun’s Heat so vehement that all the Earth was parched up by it ; neither was it more burnt up in the Days of a Elijah than it was then, for there was no Tree on the Earth that had either Leaf or Flower.

The Grass was without Verdure, the Rivers drained, the Fountains dried up ; the poor Fish abandoned by their own Element, straggling and crying horribly along the Ground, the Birds falling from the Air for want of Dew; the Wolves, Foxes, Stags, Boars, Deer, Hares, Conies, Weasels, Martins, Badgers and other Beasts were found in the Fields dead with their Mouths agape.

With respect to Men, the Case was most piteous ; you might have seen them lolling out their Tongues like Greyhounds that had run six Hours ; many threw themselves into Wells; others put themselves into a Cow’s Belly to be in the Shade ; these Homer calls Alibantes.

Smith’s notes:

1 Amaurots (ἀμανρὸϚ) dimly seen, invisible = non-existent. There is a city of that name in Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, published 1516.
2 Alibantes. This is hardly exact. Homer speaks (Od. vi. 201) of διεροἰ βροτοἰ, that is, moist, juicy, vigorous men, but not of the opposite, dried up. It is a word used by Eustathius in his explanation of διερὀϛ. But probably Rabelais owed both his information and his error to Plutarch (Quaest. Conviv. viii. 10, 11-12), who first speaks of διερὀϛ as used in Homer, and then proceeds to speak of ἀλβαϛ. The word also occurs in Plato, Rep. iii. 387 c. Also ἀμέλει τοὺς ἀποθανόντας “ἀλίβαντας” καλοῦσιν ὡς ἐνδεεῖς “λιβάδος,” τουτέστιν ὑγρότητος, καὶ παρὰ τοῦτο στερουμένους τοῦ ζῆν (Plut. Mor. 956 A) [ That, of course, is the reason why the dead are called alibantes, meaning that they are without libas, “moisture,” and for lack of that deprived of life. Man has often existed without fire, but without water never. ]

Rabelais, François (1494?–1553), The Five Books and Minor Writings. Volume 1: Books I-III. William Francis Smith (1842–1919), translator. London: Alexader P. Watt, 1893. p. 218. Internet Archive

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Posted 10 February 2013. Modified 27 December 2020.

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