and in view of the intolerable labor which without it they underwent in their mills



and in view of the intolerable labor which without it they underwent in their mills.

Original French:  veu le labeur intolerable, ſue sans elle ilz ſupportoient en leurs piſtrines.

Modern French:  veu le labeur intolerable, que sans elle ilz supportoient en leurs pistrines.


On a Water-mill

Cease from grinding, you women who toil at the mill ; sleep late, even if the crowing cocks announce the dawn. For Demeter has ordered the Nymphs to perform the work of your hands, and they, leaping down on the top of the wheel, turn its axle which, with its revolving spokes, turns the heavy concave Nisyrian mill-stones. We taste again the joys of the primitive life, learning to feast on the products of Demeter without labour.

Antipater of Thessalonica (late first century B.C.), Epigrams. W. R. Paton, translator. 9.418. Atalus



Rabelais, François (1483?–1553), Le Rabelais moderne, ou les Œuvres de Rabelais mises à la portée de la plupart des lecteurs. François-Marie de Marsy (1714-1763), editor. Amsterdam: J.-F. Bernard, 1752. p. 161. Google Books


C’est-à-dire, vu la peine étonnante qu’on avoit à moudre le blé et le réduire en farine. Pistrines, de pistrina ou pistrinum, moulin, boulangerie, lieux où l’on piloit anciennement le blé.

Rabelais, François (1483?–1553), Œuvres de Rabelais (Edition Variorum). Tome Cinquième. Charles Esmangart (1736–1793), editor. Paris: Chez Dalibon, 1823. p. 282. Google Books


Boulangerie ou l’on pilot le blé.

Rabelais, François (1483?–1553), Œuvres de F. Rabelais. Nouvelle edition augmentée de plusieurs extraits des chroniques admirables du puissant roi Gargantua… et accompagnée de notes explicatives…. L. Jacob (pseud. of Paul Lacroix) (1806–1884), editor. Paris: Charpentier, 1840. p. 310.


Urquhart has a curious mistake here, taking pistrines (pistrinum) for pristines: “and the immense labour, which without it, they did undergo in their pristine elucubrations.”

Rabelais, François (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


Moulins; du Lat. pistrinum.

Rabelais, François (1483?–1553), Oeuvres. Édition critique. Tome Cinquieme: Tiers Livre. Abel Lefranc (1863-1952), editor. Paris: Librairie Ancienne Honoré Champion, 1931. p. 367. Internet Archive


Latinisme: moulins. L’invention du moulin à eau a été un progrès énorme; les moulins antiques etaient actionnés pas les esclaves; c’était le châtiment le plus dur.

Rabelais, François (1483?–1553), Le Tiers Livre. Pierre Michel, editor. Paris: Gallimard, 1966. p. 577.

meules … pistrines

Les Anciens neconnaissaient pas le moulin à vent,qui sait capturer ces «substances invisibles» que sont les vents et, grâce à eux, faire tourner les meules («moles»).

Rabelais, François (1483?–1553), Le Tiers Livre. Edition critique. Jean Céard, editor. Librarie Général Français, 1995. p. 464.


The oldest reference to a water mill is by one of the three Greek poets called Antipater, around 85 BC, in which he celebrates the liverateion of toil of the maids who operated the querns (primitive hand mills) for grinding grain. In 65 bC Mithridates, king of Pontus in Asia, was using a hydraulic machine in a park, according to the Greek geographer Strabo; the reference is believed to be to a water mill.



1722 Sewel Hist. Quakers vii. (1795) II. 10 Committed to Bridewell and required to beat hemp.



Posted 10 February 2013. Modified 1 March 2019.

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