made election of a King of Woods



made election of a King of Woods to rule and dominate them,

Original French:  feirent election d’un Roy de boys pour les regir & dominer,

Modern French:  feirent election d’un Roy de boys pour les regir & dominer,


Le Réveil des Plantes

Le Réveil des Plantes

Grandville, J. J., Un Autre Monde. 1844. p. 60. Ptak Science Books

king of the forest

(You recall the prophet on the subject — I mean the author of Judges, Samuel, Hezekiah or Esdras, who reports Jotham as telling the following parable to the men of Shechem. The trees assembled to appoint a king: the olive, the fig, the vine and the shrub were successively nominated. The last-named accepted, provided those who would not rest under his shade be devoured by the fire emanating from him.)

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Complete works of Rabelais. Jacques LeClercq (1891–1971), translator. New York: Modern Library, 1936.

King of wood

121    It will have blood; they say, blood will have blood. 
122    Stones have been known to move and trees to speak; 

Shakespeare, William (1564-1616), Macbeth. 1606. Act 3 Scene 4.

Roy de boys

Raconté par Joathan, cet apologue est un livre de Juges, IX, 8-15. Sollicités d’accepter la royauté, l’olivier, le figuier et la vigne, arbres productifs, se récusant; c’est le buisson d’épines, inutile, qui accepte. Peut-être ne faut-il pas, dans le texte de Rabelais, donner trop de sens à cet apologue, mais n’y voir que la reconnaissance de la suprématie incontestable du Pantagruélion. Chasseneuz qui le cite (Catalogus gloirae mundi, XII, 89) l’interprète au pied de la lettre: «Inter omnes alias arbores, quæ obtinent principatum, et quæ fruit electa in regem lignorum [«Roy de boys»] est Ramnus»; et il reproduit le texte biblique, pour conclure: «Ex quo concluditur, quod tanquam rex extolli debeat ultra omnia alia ligna.»

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Le Tiers Livre. Edition critique. Jean Céard, editor. Librarie Général Français, 1995. p. 462.

King of Wood

Very early in its history, Germanic developed the syncretism ‘child’/’wood’. Compare, for example, Engl. chit ‘young of a beast, very young person’ (as in chit of a child, chit of a girl, and the like) and ‘potato shoot’ recorded in the seventeenth century on the one hand and OE cīþ ’shoot, sprout, seed, mote in the eye’ on the other; Germ. Kind ‘child’ and Old Saxon cîthlêk ‘tax on bundles of wood’. The association could have been from ‘offshoot’ to ‘child’, as in imp, scion, stripling, slip, or from ‘chip off an old block’, or even from ‘stub, stump’ (something formless, “swollen”) to ‘child’. In studying the history of German words for ‘boy, lad’, one constantly runs into nouns designating ‘peg, stump, bundle’, etc. (see the etymology of Bengel, Knabe, Knecht, Knirps, and Striezel in etymological dictionaries). The most complete list of such words can be found in Much 1909. In the Scandinavian picture of the world, the descent of human beings from trees (Askr and Embla) finds the well-known complement in skaldic kennings for ‘man’ and ‘woman’. Outside Germania, the Pinocchio myth points in the same direction.

Liberman, Anatoly, “Ten Scandinavian and North English etymologies”. Alvíssmál, 6, 1996. p. 79.



Posted 10 February 2013. Modified 12 April 2018.

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