Pantagruelion asbeste is rather renovated and cleansed



Pantagruelion asbeste is rather renovated and cleansed, than consumed or altered. Therefore

Original French:  Pantagruelion Asbeſte plus toſt y eſt renouuelé & nettoyé, que corrumpu ou alteré. Pourtant

Modern French:  Pantagruel Asbeste plus tost y est renouvelé & nettoyé, que corrumpu ou alteré. Pourtant

See Pantagruelion.
Some relationship to Piémont, a recurring allusion in these chapters.


Toutes les arbres lanificques des Seres,

116. divisae arboribus patriae. sola India nigrum
fert hebenum, solis est turea virga Sabaeis.
quid tibi odorato referam sudantia ligno
balsamaque et bacas semper frondentis acanthi?
quid nemora Aethiopum molli canentia lana,
velleraque ut foliis depectant tenuia Seres?

trees have their allotted climes. India alone bears black ebony; to the Sabaeans alone belongs the frankincense bough. Why should I tell you of the balsams that drip from the fragrant wood, or of the pods of the ever blooming acanthus? Why tell of the Ethiopian groves, all white with downy wool [molli lana, i.e. cotton], or how the Seres comb from leaves their fine fleeces [In Virgil’s time the Romans, knowing nothing of the silkworm, supposed that the silk they imported from the East grew on the leaves of trees] ?

Virgil (70 – 19 BC), Eclogues. Georgics. Aeneid: Books 1-6. H. Rushton Fairclough, translator. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1916. Georgic 2.116, p. 145. Loeb Classical Library


And therefore Merchants, Marriners, people all
Of all trades, on your marrow bones downe fall:
For you could neither rise, or bite or sup,
If noble Hempseed did not hold you vp. 

Taylor, John, The Praise of Hemp-Seed. With the Voyage of Mr. Roger Bird and the Writer hereof, in a Boat of browne-Paper, from London to Quinborough in Kent. 1630. Folio Part III, page 63. Renascence Editions


Le Tiers Livre se termine avec une allusion à Virgile (Géorgiques, II, 109; 114 seq.) :

Nec vero terrae ferre omnes omnia possunt…
Adspice et exremis domitum cultoribus orbem,
Eoasque domos Arabum, pictosque Gelonos.
Divisae arboribus patriae. Sola India nigrum
Fert ebenium ; solis et turea virga Sabeis.
Quid tibi odorato referam sudantia ligno
Balsamaque et baccas semper frondentis acanthi ?
Quid nemora Aethiopum, molli canentia lana ?
Velleraque ut foliis depectant tenuia Seres ?

Rabelais, François (1483?–1553), Le Tiers Livre. Edition critique. Michael Andrew Screech (1926-2018), editor. Paris-Genève: Librarie Droz, 1964.


The book ends with an unforeseeable patriotic flourish, awakening a distant echo of the Prologue and its account of the contemporary fortification of France. Pantagruelion’s only serious rival in incombustibility was apparently the Piedmontese larch, which enabled the good folk of Larigno to obstruct Julius Caesar’s march into Transalpine Gaul. Now that another Caesar (one of Charles V’s courtesy titles) is threatening the kingdom, Rabelais shouts defiance, not least in the huitain that rounds off the book, where Pantagruelion outshines the fabled riches of the Indies, source of Charles V’s wealth. Happy the kingdom that is blessed with the miraculous herb! The episode makes perfect sense as a mock eulogy, but as usual Rabelais drops that teasing hint of allegory. Pantagruelion has been identified as the scientific optimism of the Renaissance, the unlimited potential of humankind, the weapon of covert Evangelism and even as Indian hemp, the substance that unlocks the imagination— so it is said— and that made life in Theleme so infinitely blissful in Jean- Louis Barrault’s hippy stage version. The least that can be said is that the liberating plant provides a transition from the static world of the Tiers Livre to the endless adventure of the Quart Livre.

Heath, Michael J., Rabelais. Tempe, Arizona: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1995. Internet Archive

fossil linen

fossil linen: a kind of asbestos. Obsolete

1797 Encyclopædia Britannica (ed. 3) X. 83/2 Fossile Linen is a kind of amianthus, which consists of flexible, parallel, soft fibres,… celebrated for the uses to which it has been applied, of being woven, and forming an incombustible… .


asbestos. Forms: asbeston, abeston, abiston, albeston(e; absistos, asphestus, asbestos, asbestus; abestos, -istos; abbest, asbest. [The modern form is adopted from Latin asbestos (modern Latin asbestus), adopted from Greek asbestoj, `inextinguishable, unquenchable,’ formed on a not + sbestoj, formed on sbennunai to quench. Old French had also adopted from Latin, asbestos, later abestos, whence an English form abestos; but the common Old French form was adopted from Latin asbeston, phonetically changed to abeston, and (by confusion with albus white) albeston; hence the earlier English forms asbeston, abeston, abiston, albeston, and (by assimilation to stone) albestone. Modern French is asbeste, formerly also abeste.]

As a substantive asbestos was applied by Dioscorides to quicklime (`unslaked’). Erroneously applied by Pliny to an incombustible fibre, which he believed to be vegetable, but which was really the amiantos of the Greeks. Since the identification of this, asbestos has been a more popular synonym for amiantus or amiant.

`The unquenchable stone’; a fabulous stone, the heat of which, when once kindled, was alleged to be unquenchable. (A distorted reference to the phenomena observed in pouring cold water on quick lime.) Obsolete

1387 John de Trevisa Higden (Rolls Series) 187 Asbeston þat wil neuere quenche, be it ones i-tend.

1398 John de Trevisa Bartholomeus De proprietatibus rerus xvi. xi. (1495) 558 Of albestone… was made a candyll sticke on whiche was a lantern so brennynge that it myght not be quenched wyth tempeste nother with reyne.

1567 John Maplet A green forest or a naturall historie, wherein may be seen … the most sufferaigne vertues in all … stones and mettals … plantes, herbes … brute beastes etc. 2 Albeston is a stone of Archadie.

1567 Maplet Green forest 2 b, The precious stone Absistos… being once heate, keepeth hote seauen whole dayes.

1610 Gwillim Heraldry iv. ix. (1660) 307 A certain Kind of Stone that is found in Arcadia… called Asphestus.

1627 Henry Burton Bait. Pope’s Bull 63 The stone Asbestos… once inflamed, cannot be quenched againe.

An alleged kind of incombustible flax. Obsolete (An erroneous notion of the mineral substance.)

A. 1661 Barton Holyday, translator D. J. Juvenalis and A. Persius Flaccus 207 A sheet made of a kind of flax, call’d asbestinum, and asbeston… of that nature, that it is not consum’d, but only cleans’d, by the fire.

1734 translator Rollin’s Ancient History, Pliny gives the first place to the asbeston, the incombustible flax.

A mineral of fibrous texture, capable of being woven into an incombustible fabric; amiant or amiantus. In mineralogy applied more widely than Amiantus, to all fibrous varieties of Hornblende or Amphibole, and of Pyroxene; Amiantus being specifically the finest Hornblende Asbestos, distinguished by its long silky fibres, usually pearly white.

1607 Edward Topsell The history of foure-footed beasts and serpents 749 This kinde of web rather cometh of a kinde of flax that Pliny writeth of, or rather of the Amiantus-stone, called the Asbest, which… being cast into a fire, seems to be forthwith all in a flame, but being taken out again, it shineth the more gloriously.

1609 Thomas Heywood Troia Britanica; or Great Britaines Troy i. lxviii, An abbest stone into the bole was brayed.

1667 Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society II. 486 Of Asbestus, that can be drawn and spun.

1783 Wedgewood Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society LXXIII. 286 Filaments… of asbestos, which suffer no change in a moderate red heat.

C. 1815 Robert Southey Yng. Dragon i. Wks. VI. 263 With amianth he lined the nest, And incombustible asbest.



Posted 25 January 2013. Modified 14 April 2020.

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