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Rangifer Cochleae
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What an irony that the slave boy's Greek name was Eutyches 'he of good fortune', Nae luck to be a slave at such a tender age. His master's cognomen was 'Macer': probably ironic as they often were (such as Gaius Julius Caesar; 'Caesar' because he was bald (caesaries: 'a head of hair'). 'Macer' was probably some fat, greasy ogre: business type or landowner, controller of latifundia or mines.
Toggle Commented Oct 30, 2013 on Precious Papyri at Medieval manuscripts blog
This topic appeared recently in The Guardian and I became so intrigued by it that I posted a number of comments there. I am reproducing them here in the hope that they might contribute in some small way to speculation on this fascinating conundrum. Assuming,, that there is consistency in the motif of the snail despite the diversity of the scenes in which it appears, there do appear to be common features: 1) the snail is a hostile force; 2) it is fought against; 3) it is often surrendered to; 4) it is never depicted as defeated, wounded or killed. Admittedly after only a fairly cursory search around the web involving the inevitable wikipedia, it seems that as early as classical times, the snail could have been a symol of Cupid: Professor Ronald Chase of McGill University in Montreal has suggested the ancient myth of Cupid's arrows might be based on early observations of the love dart behavior of the land snail species Helix aspersa.] Many snails use the 'love dart' during courtship to fire into the other snail's body a hormone that causes the female parts of the snails' hermaphroditic genitalia to contract and thus increase sperm retention: Could the snail therfore have been a symbol of the invincible power of love during the middle ages? Many of the images involve knights fighting snails and this would have been consonant with the joust as a place in which to gain the lady's favour. The snail - Love - can be resisted, fought against, but never defeated. 'Omnia vincit amor' Theseus does observe in The Knight's Tale: "The God of love, a benedicite! How myghty and how greet a lord is he! Ayeyns his myght ther gayneth none obstacles, He may be cleped a god for his myracles, For he kan maken at his owene gyse Of everich herte as that hym list divyse. Lo heere, this Arcite and this Palamoun That quitly weren out of my prisoun, And myghte han lyved in Thebes roially, And witen I am hir mortal enemy, And that hir deth lith in my myght also; And yet hath love, maugree hir eyen two, Ybroght hem hyder bothe for to dye. Now looketh, is nat that an heigh folye? Who may been a fole, but if he love? Bihoold, for Goddes sake that sit above, Se how they blede! Be they noght wel arrayed? Thus hath hir lord, the God of Love, ypayed Hir wages and hir fees for hir servyse! And yet they wenen for to been ful wyse, That serven love, for aught that may bifalle! (1755 ff) Further on Love (Snail) as a force that does combat with us (and always wins): Et semeront des branches verdelettes Sur mon tumbel, et fleurs et violettes. Puis s'en iront comptant par mainte terre Comment Amours m'ont fait cruele guerre, por quoy sera mon bruit trop plus ouvert Que de Vert Cont ou de Chevalier Vert And they will strew verdant branches Upon my tomb, and flowers and violets, And then will go telling throughout the world How [The Divinities of] Love made cruel war against me; Wherefore my fame will be wider than That of the Green Count or the Green Knight' Jean Lemaire de Belges. Les Epitres de l'Amant Vert I. 261 ff - composed in 1505, first published 1511. The late medieval Copenhagen Chansonnier manuscript - an album of part songs on the subject of Love, is so utterly replete with images of snails that it would appear undeniable that the Snail is a symbol of all-conquering Love. In particular, the following illuminations (some very stylised) might well be worthy of being considered to settle the case: A fulll guide with online links to the Chansonnier can be found here: To say nothing of the illumination for the first Chanson in the album, which of itself gives the game away - a snail-man holding a heart and wearing a hat surmounted or consisting of a double snail sharing the same shell
Toggle Commented Oct 26, 2013 on Knight v Snail at Medieval manuscripts blog
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Oct 26, 2013