Of this we had an instance several days before the decease of the heroic soul of the learned and valiant Chevalier de Langey, of whom you have already spoken. I remember it, said Epistemon; and my heart still trembles within me when I think on the many dreadful prodigies that we saw five or six days before he died. For the Lords D’Assier, Chemant, one-eyed Mailly, St. Ayl, Villeneufue-la-Guyart, Master Gabriel, physician of Savillan, Rabelais, Cohuau, Massuau, Majorici, Bullou, Cercu, alias Bourgmaistre, Francis Proust, Ferron, Charles Girard, Francis Bourre, and many other friends and servants to the deceased, all dismayed, gazed on each other without uttering one word; yet not without foreseeing that France would in a short time be deprived of a knight so accomplished and necessary for its glory and protection, and that heaven claimed him again as its due. By the tufted tip of my cowl, cried Friar John, I am e’en resolved to become a scholar before I die. I have a pretty good headpiece of my own, you must own. Now pray give me leave to ask you a civil question. Can these same heroes or demigods you talk of die? May I never be damned if I was not so much a lobcock as to believe they had been immortal, like so many fine angels. Heaven forgive me! but this most reverend father, Macroby, tells us they die at last. Not all, returned Pantagruel.
The Stoics held them all to be mortal, except one, who alone is immortal, impassible, invisible. Pindar plainly saith that there is no more thread, that is to say, no more life, spun from the distaff and flax of the hard-hearted Fates for the goddesses Hamadryades than there is for those trees that are preserved by them, which are good, sturdy, downright oaks; whence they derived their original, according to the opinion of Callimachus and Pausanias in Phoci. With whom concurs Martianus Capella. As for the demigods, fauns, satyrs, sylvans, hobgoblins, aegipanes, nymphs, heroes, and demons, several men have, from the total sum, which is the result of the divers ages calculated by Hesiod, reckoned their life to be 9720 years; that sum consisting of four special numbers orderly arising from one, the same added together and multiplied by four every way amounts to forty; these forties, being reduced into triangles by five times, make up the total of the aforesaid number. See Plutarch, in his book about the Cessation of Oracles.
This, said Friar John, is not matter of breviary; I may believe as little or as much of it as you and I please. I believe, said Pantagruel, that all intellectual souls are exempted from Atropos’s scissors. They are all immortal, whether they be of angels, or demons, or human; yet I will tell you a story concerning this that is very strange, but is written and affirmed by several learned historians.
How Pantagruel related a very sad story of the death of the heroes.